Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Most Important Step of All

The final step is the most important. After adding more color to the hill on the left and smoothing out some color on the mountains to the right, I did the most difficult thing in the entire painting process: I asked a trusted artist frien...d what she saw when she looked at the picture.

Her response suprised me. "Is it supposed to be raining?" she said. I looked at the painting again. Sure enough, my fog covered ocean had the verticals streaks of a rainstorm at sea. Using a top secret technique (it involves the kitchen sink and a big sturdy brush named "Mike" after Crocodile Dundee's knife) I gently scrubbed away the rain and left a smooth transition from sea to fog and clouds.

I don't always follow my trusted artist friend's recommendations, but that is why she is trusted. It is OK with both of us when we disagree.

I hope that you have a friend like that.

Stay tuned for my next painting. I have taken thousands of wildflower photos in the last month, so I suspect that the topic may lie there!
Nan Henke
Texas Hill Country Art

Making Fine Lines in Watercolor

When there are very dark lines in a photo, like the rock outcroppings on the hill to the left or in the half circles surrounding the tiny waterfalls, I will sometimes use a sharpie. But for this painting, I wanted to be 100% watercolor, so... I took the time to learn to use an old fashioned ink pen dipped in concentrated watercolor that comes in an ink bottle. As usual, I had trouble with the standard process and made up my own: using an eyedropper to put a drop of ink on hole in the pen nib before scratching it across the paper.
The pen gave me lots of nice dark squiggly rock lines and branches but it also made me wonder about the patience of the generations of folks who wrote with these cussed tools! They drag and skip and go dry and then dump all of their ink at once...
Nan Henke
Texas Hill Country Art

Friday, April 13, 2012


Glazing is a watercolor term that means adding a layer of paint over one that has already dried.  It is tricky, because if you have too much water and not enough pigment on your brush, you will wash away the first layer instead of adding to it.  I have done that a lot!  In this photo, you can see that darker greens have been added in many places to create shape and add depth.  Some browns were also added to draw your eye to the ridges in the valley, shadows and the branchy bits of brush. 
I use the black and white photographs that I showed you in the beginning of this process to decide where to do more glazing.  It is hard for me to see all of the variations in the color photo of this beautiful valley, but when I look at the enhanced black and white versions of the photo, I can easily see what are the lightest and darkest bits.  And of course, some places I glaze on more color just because my head tells me to!  Or maybe it is my artist's eye talking,  I am never sure!!!
Nan Henke
Texas Hill Country Art

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adding the greens

I'm still painting!  I just have not had much internet access lately...  
Here I have added the greens: different ones for the distant ridge, the ravines running down to the tiny waterfalls, the hill on the left and the bushes that drop away behind the ones in the foreground.   Then the dabbled green leaves on the bushes are all sorts of different greens because they look different depending on how much light or shade each one gets.   A little green grass and red-ochre (classic Kauai!) dirt in the foreground and it is time to let it dry a bit! 
Some people think that, since the paper now has paint all over it, I must be close to done.  Not true!  The next steps are the difficult ones, adding depth and detail without overdoing it.
Nan Henke
Texas Hill Country Art