Paint with intuitive shapes in landscapes drawing. The signs we make as artists are our visual language, our way of relating to the world how we see objects so that others can see what we recognize. How do we get that word? Painting is both an impulsive response and a particular skill. The test combines our feelings about the chosen subjects with a level of pictorial competence that puts us on the path towards an artist-spectator connection.
Observe and absorb
How can I lay the foundation for my feelings for my subjects to find expression in my paintings? Fill sketchbooks with drawings. Go hiking in the mountains, sit on a granite slab, watch a shadow crawl off a cliff, and then paint the scene. Take my tripod out to the field and work outside. I take the scenery while driving and then paint the scenes that come to mind. In other words, you daydream. I absorb my surroundings so that I can emerge later in my studio work. I constantly establish the conditions that keep me on the path of artistic creation. Throughout a lifetime of artistic creation, artists acquire habits that propel us forward.
Take a road trip
Unfortunately, habits can also lead to obsolescence and repetition. When I feel that creativity stops coming, I make changes to lead me to a new vision. I recently took a trip to the southwest. Going east from my usual places in California’s Sierra Nevada and through Nevada and the Great Basin to southern Utah and northern Arizona. This journey led to the production of a range of paintings based on my notes and visual experiences. In the following demo, I detail by creating an image from my sketch during my travels.
Try a different point of view
Approaching my topic from a unique point of composition can also motivate my business. Vertical – Big Sur, over, in the event of a trip down Highway 1 along the California coast. The cliffs and the beautiful coastline have offered me new views and a new point of view; I drew and painted, looking at my subject. This top view broke the painting pattern of the typical foreground, mid-terrain, and sky view seen when looking directly at the horizon.
For Ranch, Big Sur, top left, I took the aerial view a step further and reloaded my design ideas with a narrow portrait format that accentuated the feeling of looking down from above. Perching on the ranch building and the cattle near the edge of the fall exaggerated the seasickness. Ranch, Big Sur told me that the most excellent and several crucial painting methods are its form.
I again choose the narrow vertical format and aerial point of view for Trail to an Ancient Sun, top right. Still, the effect is more distant than dizzying height because I set the horizon line high on the flat image, thus extending the foreground. I highlighted some abstract shapes in the center with ink lines drawn with Sakura Pigma Micron pens.
Try different materials
The trail to an Antique Sun is also a part of how editing or combining media can help different systems. In addition to watercolor, I used ink, colored pencil, and chalk combined with watercolor on this piece. Most notable are the ink lines that outline some of the abstract shapes. I spread black chalk over detailed watercolor and then layered cobalt blue mixed with chalk to bring back the lighter color and values in the blue section at the bottom of the article. I also used chalk mixed with watercolor to develop the sizeable tan shape in the lower half of the painting. The advantage I find with chalk is that it doesn’t lift easily when I paint over the area later.
Of course, working on new stuff, not just new tools, opens the gateway to creativity. Lately, I have been drawing on Ampersand Aquabord, a clay-coated hardboard ornament specifically designed to allow watercolors and other means. For me, the beauty of this surface lies in the opportunity it offers for bright or intense watercolors. Also, these panels don’t need mats or glass – I can only use spray paint as a fixer.
Embrace your creativity
We are creative beings by nature, and painting is a way of connecting with that nature. Integrate it with your daily activities instead of viewing artistic creation as a separate or parallel part of your life. In everything I do, I keep flowing with ideas about the possible content of new paintings and the methods I could use to create those paintings. When I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, I consciously take advantage of those ideas and find new ways to express my feelings about my world.
Intuitive shapes in western spaces
The artist’s toolbox
- Notebook: Canson hardcover, 11 × 14
- Drawing media: Sakura Pigma Micron pens in a variety of cells (for sketchbook); 2H Graphite Drawing Pencils
- Surfaces: arches 300 lbs. rough watercolor paper (555 pounds for huge paintings); Ampersand Aquabord
The view of the empty beach and the rock-strewn stream of the Great Basin inspired me a lot. As I drew on-site, I established my reaction to the landscape and made decisions about my butterfly drawing. I used a Sakura Pigma Micron pen as the drawing medium and a modified cross drawing technique.
- Beach: flat bottom desert basin
- stream: channel cut by water in an arid region
- Cross contour drawing: a method that uses curved and parallel lines that resemble a metal structure to indicate the surface of an object.
Also Read: Watercolor techniques