Category Archives: Abstract Watercolors

Full Moon Rising – Behind The Scenes Layer by Layer

I have been working on a series of art prints creating abstract sunsets, sunrises and the one I’m featuring today is a full moon rising. The series is a simplistic abstract approach to these subjects.

One of the features in Photoshop I use with creating these prints is layering. I create just portions of the entire subject on each layer and then “lay” them on top of each other for the final look. Todays blog takes you through each step as I layer what totals out to be 8 layers to create “Full Moon Rising”. Full Moon Rising shows the rising moon coming up over a mountain range and is reflected in a mountain lake.

The base layer is called the background layer and is totally white. So starting with the “1st” layer on top of the base, I am creating the sky using a blue tone that I created by drawing a large rectangle filling the top half of the print and filling it with blue. I then used a gradient tool that filters the blue going light to dark (or visa versa) from the horizon line to the top of the page.

Layer 1 Blue with gradient tool

Layer 2 is adding the same rectangle and reversing the gradient tool filling the bottom half of the piece.

Layer 2 reversing the top layer for the bottom half.

Layer 3 is the addition of white stars on the bottom half. The stars are drawn on a “blank” layer and by adding it next over the the previous layer all that shows are the stars.

Layer 3 adding stars to the bottom half

Layer 4 is the addition of the rising moon as a full circle of color. Again, the layer is “blank’ with the exception of the round moon, so when it is layered on top of all the other layers…all that shows is the addition of the yellow circle.

Layer 4 adds the rising moon as a full circle of yellow.

Layer 5 adds an identical circle below the first one to prepare for the reflection in the mountain lake.

Layer 5 adds another yellow circle below the first one.

Layer 6 adds the mountain range as a black silhouette across the top starting with the horizon line. The mountain range was inspired by the view we had from our house in Arizona of the Estrella Mountains using the same cragginess and various peaks of that range.

Layer 6 adds the mountain range

Layer 7 duplicates the mountain range upside down to continue the look of a reflection in a mountain lake.

Layer 7 adds an upside down mountain range.

Layer 8 completes the print with the addition of stars into the nighttime sky.

Layer 8 adding nighttime stars into the sky to complete the print.

End result – Full Moon Rising – a simplistic abstract look!

Thoughts?

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Tropical Bird of Paradise – Three Different Looks

On most of my work, as part of the creative process, I create my subject matter using different techniques to see which presentation I like the best. As is true with a number of my prints, I can never quite settle on just one look. A perfect example of this are the three different prints I have attached based around the same bird of paradise.

All three looks came from one drawing. I created this bird of paradise bloom by using a pen and ink style. This style creates the black outline and accent points of this flower. From there I created the first print which was Bird Of Paradise Abstract Watercolor. I added the color using a style that almost looks like it was sprayed….a very light and loose watercolor style that not only puts the color in the subject but also “outside the lines” to create a more abstract look. I liked the result and kept this as one of the final prints.

The next step I took was to use this same print, but this time I cleaned up the colors “outside the lines” creating Tropical Bird of Paradise Watercolor (notice the background color stays the same).  I liked this result also and this as one of my prints.

The third process was a multitude of attempts using various techniques to create different brush strokes using the second print as a basis. Looking at the different results, I Iiked this look the most creating A Bird Of Paradise Bloom.

Thoughts?

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Desert Glow – Hot Air Balloons Simplistic Abstract

This week I’m going back to a subject I feature periodically and that’s hot air balloons. Having been fortunate enough to live in a couple of locations that have hot air balloons frequently, I have seen many different balloons during various stages of flight. This week I wanted to feature three balloons I have done using a simplistic abstract approach. All three are inspired by a “Desert Glow” event we went to in the Phoenix area a few years back. Fully inflated balloons are tethered to the ground after the sun sets. As the sky darkens, the balloons illuminate themselves as they turn their flames on and off to music….incredible sight to see. Keeping true to the dark background of night, I kept the colors of the balloons bright as the envelopes are lit up by the flame at the base. The simplicity of this technique allows the eye to focus on the color of the balloon envelopes.

With this technique, I start with ink strokes creating the envelopes of the balloon and the basket. I use strokes of different widths to keep it more suggestive rather than just a linear sketch. Using the same technique, I add just enough at the bottom to suggest a crowd of people and keep a focus on the flame itself. The fun part is recreating the colorful designs of various balloon envelopes I encountered at this event. Of course I was going to replicate the balloon with the large Saguaro Cactus on it since this was inspired by an Arizona event.

Thoughts?

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Abstract Sunsets

In keeping with the theme from last weeks post, this week I’m featuring some more abstract prints. All four of these prints have a common theme…..foggy coastal sunsets!! You’re looking at these prints thinking….really?….these are sunsets?

It began on a trip my wife and I took up the coast of California and Oregon. It was in the fall and as seasonal temperatures change along the coastline, it’s not unusual to have fog role in about the same time as the sun sets. What was really interesting to me was the way the colors changed as the sun would come and go through the fog as it settled on the horizon.  You go from a very strong gray to small burst of light creating moments of unique colors through the fog onto the beach. Some of the moments were very subtle and some were muted bright colors. I took a number of shots every evening to have a point of reference in what I wanted to create in the way of different abstract prints. Using digital drawing and painting I created these four prints.

Thoughts?

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Soft and Subtle Abstract

Anyone who follows my work knows that I like abstract techniques with bright bold colors (ok and I love black and white photography….go figure that juxtaposition). Anyway, today I wanted to feature a soft and subtle look in my abstract art collection.

These particular three prints are some of my favorites with their soft subtle shapes and subdued colors. They create a contemporary effect, but without jumping out at you and demanding your attention. These types of prints quietly grow on you and slowly bring your eye in.  I created all three of them by starting with some digital ink sketching of long lines and small geometric shapes and then adding color as I thought would work with the various shapes.

The first one is “Touch of Purple”,  using that color as a focal point and allowing your eye to drift slowly across the “canvas”.

The next print was created using the same technique, but this time I stayed with general triangular shapes and no bold color, just soft hues of mostly yellow and gold. I always saw it as a pairing with the third one keeping the color hues the same.

In this third one, I used a variety of geometric shapes, but kept them tied together creating a singular focal point.

Thoughts?

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More Flamingos

Carrying on from last weeks post, I wanted to share some more flamingo prints. Last October I shared a series of flamingos that I created using an impasto technique. This particular series uses an abstract watercolor technique with the same ink pen drawings of a flamingo as an overlay on the abstract watercolor background. 

To create the watercolor background, I used (digital) a brush that creates an almost airbrushed look with a variety of colors. Then using an ink pen “brush”, I drew the flamingos on top of the colorful background.

 

 

 

 

Thoughts?

(On a personal note, I wanted to thank everyone that responded with support and prayers on the passing of my father. My wife and I spent a week in Cedar Rapids, Iowa along with siblings, nieces, nephews and our three girls and their husbands celebrating his life. The service was incredible with the four of us siblings each speaking with what he meant to us as a father. I come from a large family and it was awesome to see all of them come in from all over the country. It speaks volumes to who he was!!)

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Abstract Sunrise and Sunsets – Featured Art Prints

I have been working on a project for a client encompassing abstract sunsets and now sunrises. I am featuring three of my most recent art prints, two are with the sunsets and the third is the first of some sunrises. I featured the first three sunsets I created for the project last September in two different posts. One featuring a lighthouse and another a sailboat and then the post about our moving back to Southern California, leaving the Arizona desert behind, which was a group of Saguaros in the desert at sunset.

If you follow my blog you will remember that the move was precipitated because our granddaughter and her parents were expecting a little brother for her….which fast forward…happened this last week. Our grandson was born last Monday 10 days early and when he decided he wanted to come into the world…he wasted no time…very quick delivery. Mom, Dad and grandson are doing great as are his grandparents.

So back to the project, I had a client who wanted a series of abstract sunsets and sunrises done in this abstract style with a variety of subject matters. From my moving post, I put eyes and smiles on the cactus, which prompted a comment from one of my blog followers (yes, Brad that was you!!) about using them in a children’s book. At the time I had actually just finished a children’s book, which I wrote for my granddaughter and had my niece (great artist) illustrate it. I casually mentioned Brad’s comment to a source who helped me with the first book and they encouraged me to pursue it. So, as I complete the initial request, I am already planning on what “tweaks” I want to make and how that would fit in a children’s book. So, more on that as I go forward, but more importantly I wanted to thank Brad for his comment and let him know how it is being played forward (the power of positive input).

With these three, the first one is Serengeti Sunset with a group of giraffes on the Serengeti at sundown. With the sun on the horizon, I chose to stay close to primary colors creating a bold look, but darkened and softened the orange and yellow as they pulled up and down from the horizon line. I did the three giraffes in black silhouette to complete the look of this abstract representation. The digital drawing of the silhouette figures in all three prints looks simple, but trust me the drawing is very tedious and time consuming done digitally (if only I had the drawing gift free hand).

The next art print called Mountain Sunset is done using the same general technique with the bright primary colors filling the sky.

The third one is done using the same concept, but to depict a sunrise, I changed the sky to blue to create a different look. This one features Flamingos feeding under palm trees.

Thoughts?

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