Tag Archives: Yosemite

The 148th Annual International Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society

Borrowed Freedom

Borrowed Freedom

I am very honored and happy that my painting “Borrowed Freedom, Yosemite”, was selected for this year’s Annual International Exhibition of the American Watercolor Society in New York City

The Exhibition will be held April 6-25, 2015 at the Salmagundi Club, 47 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

Positives and Negatives

Subject matter like this stable scene is very inspiring to me, simply because I love horses. But from an artistic standpoint, there’s more to it that made me want to paint it.
We have a brightly lit backdrop and horses with riders in the deep foreground shadows which creates contrast and lots of positive and negative patterns.
As a painter, that’s what I am looking for. It is almost more important than the subject itself: Light, shadow, positives, negatives and pattern. What exactly do I mean by P&N?

If you have a shape, any shape, it has an outline thus creates the space that makes the shape. It is filled with a certain value and color. It distinguishes itself from other shapes by value, color and form. Most people see only positives, for instance the tree on a hillside or a vase on a table. Artists see differently. I look for patterns. I am more interested in what the shape does than what it actually is. Sure it’s a horse, a vase or a tree. But how does it interact with shapes around it? What is it’s overall effect on the compo, the design, the line work, the energy it creates.. These are the important parts!

A tree has lots of branches, foliage etc. and we can easily see the sky showing through all the gaps and openings. There’s your negative space!
Oil painters often layer the sky into the tree and get the branches like that. Watercolor painters paint the sky first and are careful to leave gaps within the tree to get the same results. Or else, you work a darker value around and get the branches to appear that way. If you have problems ‘seeing’ negative space, try to look at a picture in black and white. The values will be easier to spot as well!

So, the enclosed spaces and openings between the branches of a tree are ‘Negatives’. Negative space doesn’t mean ‘ no pigment there’. It just means there are gaps with a big value discrepancy. (foreground dark, background light or vise versa!) In painting, it often develops a focal point!

If you want to see a true master of negative painting in watercolor, go visit my friend Brenda Swenson’s blog, take a look at this post ( http://brendaswenson.blogspot.com/2013/05/negative-painting.html)
I posted her floral painting above. Can you see the negative space that makes the stems and petals? A great example of the art of negative painting!

Yosemite ranger’s horse stables

Yosemite horse stables2

This painting is a studio version of the one attempted outside. The August heat makes it very hard, if not impossible, to watercolor paint outside. My work depends on bigger washes with loads of water and it can’t be done if there’s super dry heat and a breeze that acts like a hair dryer.

The rim fire at Yosemite is, unfortunately, still burning. This location usually doesn’t have as many horses in the pens, but they were all moved out of harms way. In my attempts to go paint on location, I went there quite early and was lucky to see them get fed. I tried capturing the intense light at sunrise and the dust created by the movements of the animals. It was wonderful to be right there and study their expressions and graceful movement.

Yosemite horse stables
Media: original watercolor on paper
Image size:  approx. 14″x 21″
Unframed/ matted
SOLD

Yosemite valley

rangers horse stables, Yosemite valley P1030241

Last week I was teaching at Yosemite valley’s Art Center, operated by the Yosemite conservancy. This is a non-profit organization which means I didn’t get paid, but i think it is important to give back to the general community that helped me get where I am today. It wasn’t easy to tear myself away and not make any money for a whole week, but staying in Yosemite for free is a treat and I am happy I did it!

I want to thank Aline Allen at the Art Center for welcoming me and her efforts to fill up my classes. The only adverse conditions during the past week was the ongoing heat and extreme dryness that makes watercolor painting oh-so difficult!

Next year I will have to pick an earlier or later date!

Above paintings are sold at the Yosemite Art Center in the Yosemite village, California