Monday, February 8, 2016

Skying

Skying
watercolor
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

When I see a dramatic sky I think of John Constable's cloud paintings. And as he said, "I have done a good deal of skying." He would add notes to his sky studies on the weather conditions, direction of light, and time of day. This was painted for the second challenge that I submitted to Daily Paintworks. I was inspired by John Constable's cloud paintings and how he often painted unusual effects of lighting in the landscape by placing a light valued foreground against a dark sky. This painting is a scene from Edisto Beach, South Carolina, when there was a "Constable sky" happening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

in four steps

Landscape Study VII
watercolor
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This scene comes from the coastal marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry. I love the way the water in the marshes often mirrors the sky giving the landscape there a dreamy quality.

A little while ago a reader asked whether I sketched my compositions in pencil before going in with paint. The short answer is no. I just start in with paint. It is only with a complex image, or one that I feel requires more accuracy to the forms, do I sketch it in pencil first. However, I often find that having pencil lines, no matter how miminal, will cause me to tighten up with my painting. One of my goals with these little landscape studies if to paint more intuitively, with more emphasis on expression and less concern for detail. It is something that I hope to carry over into larger works as well.
To demonstrate, I snapped photos of the painting above during four stages to completion. Here is the first wash where I blocked in the major shapes and lifted areas for the clouds in the sky. There are still bits of the white paper showing here and there. I do like to get the sky established first as that has so much influence on the landscape.
Here you can see my photo reference, which is actually a cropped view from a larger photo. For this series of studies I want to keep the compositions fairly simple, so I zero in on the essence of a scene. And at this stage I began to establish some of the middle and darker values by defining the trees at the horizon and the edge of the marsh grasses. I also gave the sky a little more definition with another wash to deepen the blues.
This step shows where I went another step darker with the darkest values in the composition as well as added another wash to the water where the colors are more saturated, and was careful to save some of those white bits at the water's edge. I also defined the marsh grasses with a rich golden orange.
At this point all that remained was to articulate the grasses in the foreground. I used the same reds and browns to restate some of the cooler darks of the grasses at the water's edge as well and pulled the reflected grasses down into the water. It was here that I realized my grasses in the foreground needed a size adjustment. In my photo reference they are nearly the same size, so I brought the clump of grasses in the bottom right corner a little closer to the viewer by making them a bit larger.

And there you have my process for painting these little landscape studies. Each image presents its own challenges and I learn something new with each new painting. So as I move from one to the next, my process evolves a little as well. Which is all part of the journey!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

distance

Landscape Study VI
watercolor
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

My landscape exploration continues with this study of a view I often pass when going to and from town. I liked the light in the distance on this day,with clouds rolling in over the far ridges.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Escape the snow

Escape
watercolor
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This is a view from my favorite, Edisto Beach, SC., and where my thoughts go when I want to escape all of the snow I see outside  my window. It is in response to a Daily Paintworks challenge that I submitted. I am enjoying seeing all of the varied interpretations for the Escape the Snow Challenge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

snow challenge

Winter Sun
watercolor
6 x 8 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky
reference photo credit Carol Marine

Since joining Daily Paintworks I have participated in only a few of their weekly challenges. But with a "big snow" event predicted for us this weekend I decided it was a good time to paint the "Snow Challenge". The reference photo intrigued me as well. I loved those long diagonal shadows created by the low winter sunlight. And that bright glare of sunlight -  how to paint that? This was a fun challenge to paint. And now I better make sure we have enough bread and milk before the big snow arrives.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tree Line

Tree Line
watercolor
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This painting began with the idea of expressing those lines of trees we see punctuating hillsides. I like the linear rhythm of the trees in winter as they rise up an over the crest of the hills, backlit by a bright sky. There is a view such as this from our back deck, if you peer through the trees of our wooded yard. But travel down most any road around here and similar scenes can be found. These lines of trees are a testament to the rural roots of these Southern mountains, where farming was, and still is, quite challenging. That and grazing lands created these tree-articulated hillsides from their forested past.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

dramatic sky

Landscape Study V
watercolor
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

We sometimes see dramatic skies as clouds roll up and over our mountain ridges. This painting is a view near the Blue Ridge Parkway, not far from Bamboo Gap. It's a scene that I pass by often when traveling to and from town. The drama of the clouds inspired me to capture this moment.

Monday, January 11, 2016

sketchbook :: the winter view

My sketchbooks have become more working sketchbooks and less illustrated journals. Lots of notes and scribbles with painting plans, compositional studies, and working out motifs fill the pages. Yet every now and then I feel the need to capture a moment. I have been making an attempt to record the varying color of the sky during these winter months, which is what I set out to do yesterday. It was late in the afternoon and the light was fading fast as I sat at the table looking out our back door. With my previous sky sketches I edited out the trees, but yesterday I included the ridge on the horizon and some of the trees in our yard. Our yard is wooded with an understory of rhododendrons. There are so many trees that it is impossible to identify them all. We are used to looking through them, to see the light on the hills beyond.
Both sketches are watercolor only in a 7 x 10 Stillman & Birn Beta series sketchbook.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

this new year

Landscape Study IV
watercolor
6 x 6 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

Heading into this new year I am continuing with these small landscape studies. This painting is inspired by a view looking up toward Thunder Hill on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a spot where, if you hike to the top, you are rewarded with a nearly 360 degree view of the mountains. I liked the direction of the path in this scene, as it appears and then disappears over the rise of the hill. which seemed to make it a good metaphor for the start of a new year.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Waiting for Halcyon Days

Waiting for Halcyon Days
watercolor
11 x 14 inches
©Ann Thompson Nemcosky

This painting developed intuitively from my response to my initial mark making and paint application. I began with a resist of masking fluid in a big, sweeping, circular motion. Then with the paper randomly sprayed with water I applied washes of color. From there I considered what I wanted to happen in each area. I used a stamp inspired by a fossil shape that I created from a white plastic eraser as well as stencils to create some of the shapes. I have long been fascinated with mythology and folklore. As the painting began to suggest water I imagined the kingfisher from the Greek myth of Halcyon and its power to calm the waves. As our time of Halcyon Days ends for this year I wish you calm waters in the new year.

Halcyon days, now wars are ending.
You shall find where ere you sail
Tritons all the while attending
With a kind and gentle gale.

~Halcyon Days by Thomas Shadwell~


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