Thursday, July 2, 2009
No, this is not a bar for "Negroes" in the old, segregated South. It is a beautiful granite bar on the American River, east of Sacramento. It was further up into the Sierra Foothills on the American that John Marshall discovered flakes of gold while supervising operations of John Sutter's lumber mill around 1843. The great California Gold Rush commenced, and it was on this part of the American River that various gold prospectors were allowed to set up segregated camps according to ethnicity (whites, blacks, latinos, and chinese). So this scene that I painted side by side with one of my talented private lesson students, was where the African Americans...uh...Negroes set up camp. Now it is a fishing, kyacking, and swimming paradise. Just a beautiful area. This watercolor was painted from a photo I took. In front of the swimmers were some scuba divers. We left them out of the painting! 1. We first wet the watercolor paper above the granite rock line then charged in light toned, pre-mixed colors from off of our palettes. We let those colors mix on the wet paper and enjoyed results! 2. After the background colors were bone dry, we wet the tree area and again charged in colors...tree colors! Ahh...more luscious color intermingling...let it happen...it's a happening,man! 3. After that, we brush in some light shadows on the granite. We let it dry, and splatterd granite texture with an old toothbrush. Never ever throw away those used up tooth brushes! 4. Delicately, we painted in some fissures and darker areas of the granite. We painted in the figures with just a minimal amount of detail. The large granite rocks looked flat and boring until the swimmers were painted in. Then they came to life. Funny how that worked! I think it was a dramatic tonal contrast thing. Also, we painted some light toned water to further help define the hard edges and forms of the granite. 5. With a large, flat brush loaded unevenly with two colors, and brushing with a flowing side -to- side motion, we started to paint water reflections. We had to keep going back to the palette to load the brush with more colors and back to the paper for more side-to-side motion. We kept it going and only lay down our brushes after we were done! Again, the colors intermingle with all that water on our brushes along with the constant sweeping motion. What a rush!.. and scary, but that's watercolor. 6. After the water reflections were bone dry, we took a dry, thirsty brush and pulled off highlights. 7. Just a very light, warm yellowish color needed to be brushed onto parts of the granite rock, and "Negro Bar" was completed. Whew! About three and a half hours painting time, and time for a cold beer! Remember my personal definition of watercolor? Watercolor is all about controlling the flood.