New places and experiences thrill the senses and spark inspiration. Here, three intrepid watercolor artists share the scenes that called to them during recent travels. From unexpected views of iconic landmarks to revealing looks at unfamiliar terrain, they take us along for the ride.
“I’d always wanted to capture the vastness of Bear’s Den, a well-known spot along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia,” says Catherine Hillis. “One nice day, I carried my equipment along the trail and set up among some rocks. It was too windy for my easel, so I held onto my watercolor board and palette, and worked while leaning against a boulder. “Faced with a complicated landscape like this one, I knew I couldn’t paint everything, nor was it important to. The key was to group objects together in a variety of larger, interlocking shapes rather than approach each element as a specific “thing” — a process that was more geometry than anything else.
“To reproduce the softness and depth of the scene, I also had to portray a full range of values. I painted the majority of the background in the lightest values of 1 – 3; the middle ground in values 4 – 7; and the foreground is where I placed my darkest values, as well as the most contrast between dark and light.”
“Making small sketches on the go in no more than 15 to 20 minutes, there is no time for fussy details,” says Stewart White. “Sometimes I capture the simple essence of a scene that would be impossible to duplicate even if I had hours to work on it.”
“A couple of years ago, Jeff Horn and I visited Catalina Island to paint the interior,” says Rick J. Delanty. “The Island Conservancy generously extended the use of a van for us to drive the length of the island. We painted at Shark Harbor, White’s Landing, and above the beautiful town of Avalon. The subject of this painting is the picturesque Casino that houses a movie theater and ballroom, painted from a knoll above the front entrance. The Moorish architectural details and the pure complementaries of orange and blue attracted me to this sparkling scene.”
For more inspiring stories like this one, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.