Category Archives: Abstract Watercolors

Papago Palms At Papago Park – Featured Art Prints

This week I am featuring two art prints I created representing some of the palm trees surrounding a small lake in Papago Park which is located in Phoenix, Arizona. Papago Park has a very unique history starting with being named a reservation for local Maricopa and Pima aboriginal Americans in 1879. In 1914 it was designated a National Monument and that designation was later rescinded in 1930. During the Great Depression, the state established a fish hatchery on the land (thus the lakes that are still here today) and during WWII it housed a POW camp. Ultimately the land was sold to the city of Phoenix in 1959 and currently is home to the Desert Botanical Garden, The Phoenix Zoo and the park itself with hiking trails and unique red rock geological features.

Walking around one of the lakes I was mesmerized by the palm trees lining one of the lakes and chose to recreate the scene using a digital painting technique that was true to the colors and shapes I was seeing.

 

 

Thoughts?

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Lighthouse and Sailboat in Abstract Sunset

With the post from last week, I used a desert sunset with saguaro cacti that I created using the same technique that I used originally with these two art prints. Using a few of the filters on Photoshop, I originally created a background where the top half of the picture was sky and the bottom half of the picture was ocean. I used the gradient filter to take the sky and the ocean from light to dark at the horizon line. I then drew the lighthouse and sailboat and filled them with black to look like a silhouette against the background. The look is very abstract and the simplicity with the colors creates a unique look.

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Goodbye to the Desert Saguaro – We Moved

 

We bid adieu to our friends the Saguaro cactus as we have moved back to Southern California. This time not San Diego, but Los Angeles. We have had a hard time saying goodbye to the many friends we have made in our 5 years here in the desert, but are excited for the next chapter in our life being near our granddaughter and her brother when he is born early next year.

Five years ago, my wife and I created a 5 year plan. We are very family oriented and didn’t want to be too far away from any of our three daughters and future grandchildren. At that time, since none of our girls were staying in San Diego, we wanted to give it 5 years to see where they  would land. Knowing all three, we knew they would stay somewhere in the western part of the US. Denver had been mentioned, Seattle and Los Angeles, so moving to Phoenix wasn’t that far off the map. Fast forward to today, all three are married (terrific son-in-laws). We have one daughter and her husband in Los Angeles and the other two and their husbands in Seattle area. Our Los Angeles family has our first grandchild with one on the way. At some point in the not too distant future we expect to see some grandchildren in Seattle, so time will tell where we ultimately end up.

I used this picture I created of the Saguaro Cactus as the poor thing has been the brunt of family jokes with my wife. They spook her out…she says they look like large people in the desert and at night it just creeps her out. I find them very unique and of course symbolic of the “Old West”. Knowing we have all given her a hard time about the large people in the desert, just couldn’t resist adding some eyes and mouth as they say “goodbye” to us!

Thoughts?

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Soft Abstract Roses – Featured Art Prints

I love taking macro photographic shots of rose buds and blooms. The colors, texture, etc. create such beautiful visual imagery. Today, I wanted to feature a softer take on rose blooms and then explain how I created them by taking a step back through the process I use to create this type of digital art. I have used Adobe Photoshop for years….probably since it first came out. I remember taking classes from the University of San Diego on how to get the most out of it from an artist perspective. Trust me, it was many years and many versions ago. What I love about the program is the ability to do layers for each of the steps I go through. These roses are a great example of the process, so I will walk you through a simplified version of it.

I start with my macro photography of the rose bloom as the background layer. I then open an empty layer on top of it and using an ink stroke tool (Photoshop), draw the edges and shapes I want to highlight in black. Then I create another layer and pick a digital brush style I like (the brush style I picked here creates an almost air brush look..soft edges). On the blank layer I paint larger areas of colors by painting over the photograph if you will. The large areas of similar colors create the abstract look. I then move the “ink stroke layer” to the top of the layers, eliminate the bottom photograph, merge the layers and the end result is what you are looking at (simplified version as I actually open many laters typically for each color tone).

I also would like to mention that for the painting layer, there are numerous programs out there that can take your photograph and turn it into just about any style of painting. I use these programs in cases where I want to keep the detail of the photograph and am looking for more 3-D brush strokes as you would see in oil paintings. Even in that scenario, I come back in and work the resulting art print with some of the detail I described here.

This is a quick and simple walk through of my process that in actuality is very tedious and for every print I publish, five to seven are trashed by me for not liking the end result.

Thoughts?

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The Masts Have It – Featured Art Prints

Here in the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day the last weekend in May. It is a national holiday to honor our fallen soldiers. Since it is a three-day weekend, it also has become the unofficial beginning of summer and summer activities. As we honor our fallen, we also celebrate life with family and friends and for many parts of the country it is a time to finally get out and celebrate sunshine and outdoor activities. I was fortunate enough to be in New England a few years back at this time of the year.  I can’t help but think of the scene I have featured here when I think of this three-day weekend. Boating, fishing and enjoying the great outdoors.

I created these two prints using an abstract watercolor technique. This particular technique creates sharp lines and shapes. With the detail of the masts, I wanted to keep them and the harbor as the focal point. What you are seeing is two, two mast boats side by side in both prints.

Majestic Boat

I love the majesty of these boats and can only image the splendor with their sails unfurled.

Docked Masts

Thoughts?

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Bright Colors – Abstract Watercolor – Hot Air Balloons

This week I’m featuring three of my hot air balloons. The technique I used creating these three art prints was an abstract approach. I used the sketching to define the subject matter of the balloons and then filled them with bright colors. Not being one who every stayed in the lines when it came to art, I let the bright colors bleed into each other, creating an abstract look.

 

We are all attracted to hot air balloons rising and floating in the air. The serenity of the scene as one looks skyward and sees these bright colored balloons quietly drifting through the sky. What drew my eye when my wife and I did the adventure in San Diego, was the prep work of getting them inflated and launched. To me there was an incredible beauty watching these large bags of color transformed into what we see drifting across the sky.

 

As the balloons slowly fill with hot air, they go from laying flat on the ground to slowly rising and when you see the different stages of inflation with a group of balloons together…it really is a beautiful sight.

 

Thoughts?

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Barren Branches Go Colorful – Featured Art Prints

In keeping with the theme from last weeks post, I am featuring two art prints where the subject matter is pretty simplistic, barren branches. These are shots of trees along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, Iowa during winter. I took this simple subject matter and started giving the branches a subtle abstract look to create images with more geometric patterns. As part of that process, I also changed the background to larger abstract shapes to keeping the focus on the barren tree branches. I created the Purple Barren Branches first and then wanted to use some of the same elements in the second one. I liked the power of purple and pulled it into the branches on the second one and notice the hint of green on the first one. I used it as the background on the second one, creating a different look altogether.

Thoughts?

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