June 4, 2016 Progress

I decided to try incorporating more color into my work now, as the previous things I produced seemed a little dull and washed out. This time, I read Herb Olsen’s book and decided to base a painting off of the composition of one of his own paintings. This one is a much more colorful and vibrant version of his painting of Central Park. I changed a few things, of course, but I got the inspiration from his Guide to Watercolor Landscape.

central park vibrancy


  • 9×12 Arches 140lb Cold Press
  • Hues
    • Phthalo Blue
    • Rose Madder
    • Yellow Deep
    • Viridian
    • Payne’s Grey

Things I like:

  • The blending of the various colors as I tried to mix almost all of the hues on the paper instead of on the palette. It certainly makes for a more interesting effect and work overall.
  • Little grassy details on the east embankment in shadow.
  • The color of the buildings in the background.
  • I succeeded in using a very limited palette.
  • Man in the closest boat, and his dog.
  • The shape of the closest boat.
  • Hiding a fisherman in the trees. (Can you see him? :))

Things I would like to improve:

  • Need more sky holes in the trees, near and far.
  • Shadows.
  • Reflections in the water.
  • Buildings and sky should be a little lighter in hue so that the foreground stands out a bit more. As it is, everything sort of blends together and the sense of depth is weak.
  • Figures.

I was thinking of hiding this one and chalking it up as an exercise, but my sister has already claimed it and decided where she wants to hang it. She just insisted that I sign it first.

Even though this did not turn out quite as I had planned, this one was a really fun exercise. It was my first painting in which I used some artist-grade paints (Phthalo Blue and Rose Madder) I had purchased to compare to all of my other various grades of student paint. Guess what – I noticed a big difference.

Needless to say, I ordered some more paints to complete my primary colors and a few extra. This time, they are artist grade. As soon as I finish up the student-grade colors, I will be filling up the wells in my palette with those. They are a bit more expensive, but I will think of them as an investment. By ordering the primaries, I will have a wide range of hues I can produce anyway, without buying each color individually.

Sometimes I think that I am not progressing as I would like, but whenever I look back to square one of this journey, I am quickly reminded of just how far I have come. Keep putting your brush to paper, everyone!


9 thoughts on “June 4, 2016 Progress

  1. Even though you would’ve liked the background to be lighter, I think it works very well in this painting because it adds to how congested NYC feels, with tall skyscrapers always looming near you no matter how immersed in nature you are. I also really like the tiny bike you included, nice touch!


    1. I understand what you are saying with the background. Chances are that once I mat it and let my sister hang it, it will grow on me over time. That’s often what happens when I walk by something I have painted for a couple of days.



  2. I do like this. The background looks great, and I love the colors. What artist-quality paints did you purchase? Like you, I’ve only recently “graduated” to artist-quality watercolors, and yes, there is a big difference! Your experiences sound very similar to mine…wanting to progress, wondering if I’m getting any better, then looking back and seeing how far I really have come. It was a year ago this month that I decided to learn to draw…which ultimately led me on to watercolor and other media. I love this journey I’m on, and I can sense that you’re loving it too. So glad I found your blog!


    1. I decided to try M. Graham paints because the honey intrigued me. I also have a tube of Winsor Newton Rose Madder I got for very cheap on eBay. They are both very nice, but I purchased the M. Graham paints because they seem to cost less per mL, especially with their sale price at CheapJoes.

      I am so happy that you like my blog. I do try to include what I learn during my practice and from outside sources and organize it here, somewhat. I try to stay on top of it with at least one post a week. Stay tuned. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 I was going to suggest M Graham paints if you were using something else. I love them! I only have a few, but as I use up my older paints, I will be replacing them with M. Graham’s watercolors. I also bought my first W & N watercolor recently — opera rose. I think I’d like their paints, too. The closest art store does sell W & N, so I’m sure I’ll pick up a few more. And, oh, yes, I’m a fan of Cheap Joe’s. You and I sound a lot alike LOL. I was interested in the M Graham paints for exactly the reason you mentioned — the honey. I’m really enjoying watercolor more now than ever. Having good paints — and Arches paper — has made a huge difference in the results I’m getting.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And the journey never ends! There’s always something new to discover. I started my journey a year ago, and I’m amazed by all that’s happened since then. Definitely a whirlwind!


  3. Excellent comments on your painting which is very good. I think investment in quality paint and paper is well worth every penny.


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