Thursday, June 24, 2010


Sunset, originally uploaded by Elizabeth Smith.
We had a particularly spectacular sunset last week filled with vivid blues and pinks. I took some reference photos and later tried to capture those glorious colorful soft clouds. Even though it looks like a simple subject, this is my third attempt to capture that fluid sky!

One of the joys of watercolor is its unpredictability. Trying to get pigments to flow and mix on the page without overworking them is a challenge. My advice: put the brush down, NOW.
Sometimes it even helps to walk away!

This quick sketch was painted with Daniel smith tube watercolors: Quinacridone Pink for the clouds, and a mix of Prussian, Manganese, and Ultramarine Blue for the sky. I did some thumbnail tests first to find the closest colors to the actual clouds and sky, especially those with semitransparent and clear, bright properties.

The colors were dropped and brushed onto a wet paper surface. After the wet washes dried completely, I painted the treeline with a dark mix of Indanthrone Blue, Raw Umber, and Undersea Green. The tree silhouettes are painted with quick calligraphic strokes – my aim was to capture the essence of the forms, not the specific details.

This view captures slash pine canopy and some understory shrubs and palmetto as I look to the west; the Gulf of Mexico is about 2 miles away (as the crow flies). Although BP has opened its Naples office here just this week, so far the oil spill hasn’t reached our shores.

You can click on the image above to view it larger on my Flickr photostream.