Okay, a clarification. My goal was to complete 50 paintings around my fiftieth birthday, not by my fiftieth. The deadline is my 51st birthday, October 19, 2012. So I have time. I actually expect to finish this series within the next few months and then I can start something new.
Working on a series has given a nice structure to the overall project, and it’s nice to have a feeling of a beginning and an end to a group of paintings, rather than a long, life-long stream of paintings. I’m thinking about the next series. Some ideas:
- Fifty-one at Fifty-one
- All northern Virginia
- Domestic scenes
I promised a few larger paintings, and here’s the first. This scene is at Miller Mesa, just outside Ridgway, Colorado, the photograph taken by my dad. I’m pretty happy with the finished painting. I took my time and worked in sections: First I masked the fence, then worked foreground and sky, mountains, midrange, and finally foliage detail. I worked the fence in three or four sessions, letting the layers dry in between and letting it “rest” so I could see it better. This is Fifty at Fifty painting number 27.
The key learning experience in this painting was that I waited till the entire painting except the fence was finished before I removed the mask. The patience paid off because it left me a clean, clear surface to work on.
"Miller Mesa," watercolor, 8x10"
Another little flower that turned out cute, based on a photograph that my dad took on the Sutton Trail in Ouray, Colorado. I tried a little different background here, thinking it would be more cheerful. Number 26 of 50.
Mountain Harebell, watercolor and India ink on paper 2 1/4" x 2 1/4"
Continuing with my miniature paintings, I’ve done a third version of the White (or “Wild”) Geranium. I’m much more comfortable now letting the paint and the water mingle on their own, and also not sticking slavishly to the reference photograph. When I mentally sit back and just draw (with the paint), I feel it ends up a better, more natural piece.
White Geranium No. 3, watercolor on paper, 2 1/4" x 2 1/4"
Number 25 in the 50 at 50 series.
My husband and I met in Austin, Texas and in our early years we took quite a few trips out to this remote, magical place. My mom suggested that I paint some prickly pear cactus, and I found a photograph that my dad took that was perfect as an inspiration. So these paintings are a family affair. How sweet!
"Big Bend Triptych No. 1 (Ocotillo)" Watercolor and india ink on paper
"Big Bend Triptych No. 2 (Prickly Pear)" Watercolor and india ink on paper
"Big Bend Triptych No. 3 (Creosote bush)" Watercolor and india ink on paper
I really felt inspired with these three (which are 22, 23, and 24 of “50 at 50″). I played with laying down small pools of clear water, then dropping color into the pools. The color would spread out naturally to make interesting patterns. The challenge to that strategy is to allow adjacent areas to dry completely, or you end up with a big mess. I also learned this time to make that pretty yellow ochre color, which works well for the creosote bushes.