Sunday, September 1, 2013

Grass Shadows

This morning I got up early to take my daily walk.  I could have slept late since it was Sunday but I knew I needed to get moving before the heat set in (it's been close to, is not over, 100 degrees here for months).  I hooked Dasher to his leash and set off. I was going to use this time to think about a 30 Day Blog Challenge and a 30 Day Painting Challenge, both of which I was starting today.  I planned on combining the two and writing about the intuitive painting process I use.  The sun was just starting to rise, promising another scorching day.  But as it rose it also revealed some beautiful images.  Once again my daily walk offered some inspiration.

The angle of the sun and the height of the grass cast this wonderful shadow on the side walk.  I just loved the landscape quality of the image and the cool blueness of the shadow against the sandy colored sidewalk.  It reminded me of the transparent quality of watercolors and inspired me to start my challenge with my favorite medium.

I took this picture with my Iphone and printed a copy when I got home.

140 lb watercolor paper
pencil & eraser
watercolor paint*
assorted brushes
rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
water & paper towels

1.   I lightly drew the basic shapes on the paper.  I drew the line a little more diagonal than the photo.
2.  I covered the paper with clear water then dropped in yellow paint covering the surface.  Dry completely.

3.  Next I mixed up a puddle of pthalo blue and a puddle of alizarin crimson.  I painted clear water over the area that represents the shadow then I dropped in blue, alizarin crimson and their purple mixture.  I let the paint move into the wet areas.

4.  For the green grass I mixed puddles of sap green, pthalo blue and yellow.  I wet the area with clear water and dropped in the colors.  I covered the purple area with a piece of paper and sprayed rubbing alcohol on the green area creating some textures.

5.  I completely dried the paper then repeated steps 3 and 4 twice.

Grass Shadows
Watercolor on paper
6.  After looking at my image I felt it need a "surprise" color so I painted a stripe of opera pink on the line between the shadow and the green.

When do I know that a painting is complete? It all depends on the subject matter and media I use. With this particular painting I stopped when I found that I'd created a nice balance with the contrast of line, value, color, shape and texture.

I wonder what I'll find on my walk tomorrow to inspire me.

*My palette usually consists of 2 yellows (cadmium yellow light & cadmium yellow medium), 2 reds (alizarin crimson & cadmium red medium), 2 blues (ultramarine & pthalo), burnt sienna & sap green.  Now and then I add other colors like opera pink, peacock blue and spring green.

 p.s.  My work that will be completed during the 30 Day Painting Challenge will be available for purchase by October 1st.


  1. How absolutely insightful and cool. Thank you so much.

    I am from UBC, so nice to meet you. Come and visit me some time

    Namaste with Unity "Love" Consciousness,
    Wendy Baudín
    Self-Love Sherpa and Wisdom Guide

    1. I enjoy your blog too!

      Thanks for your comment

  2. You are so creative, thank you for the demo.

  3. This is so beautiful, Karen!

    I love how you combined the "everydayness" of your walk with Dasher with practical tips on how to create such a beautiful watercolor. It's like a gentle, inspirational painting lesson. Lovely.

    What WILL you find tomorrow, to inspire you? I look forward to finding out! :-)

    Stay true to you,

  4. Karen, I found you through the UBC and loved your posts, so I subscribed. I love how you amplified the beauty of the grass shadows with your painting. One question: in #5, you say you dried the paper completely. Did you simply allow it to dry in its own time, or did you use another technique to dry it? Thanks! --Kebba Buckley Button

  5. I use a hair dryer if I'm in a hurry to get to the next step.

    Thanks for your comment.