I love painting outdoors, and some of my favorite subjects to paint are outdoor markets and mountain vistas. But whatever the subject, it’s the skies that draw the most attention in my paintings, and that’s because I pack my skies with color and I’m not afraid to push it in new directions when necessary.
I begin a painting with brief sketches that let me work out the best combination of colors. Then I’ll turn that into a charcoal sketch that lays out the major values and contrasts. I do the painting usually on 300-lb. Arches cold-pressed rough paper and I paint wet-into-wet, always standing up. I use a 3-inch flat brush to wet the paper and a No. 36 to lay in washes, then switch to a No. 26 and a 1-inch flat brush and some smaller brushes toward the end of the process.
New Mexico Fall (watercolor, 12 1/2×21 1/2)
I use clean, pure color right from start and let in tone down as a layer it, and this allows be to be bold with my colors. I like to use more pigment than I think is necessary, and I keep the brush and colors as clean as possible at all times. For the most dramatic skies, I’ll wet the entire paper and wait few minutes, then fill the paper with color, sometimes tilting the board to get the colors to run together. In general, I try not to paint things but to let them appear, and that’s a philosophy I recommend to any artist for getting the most out of your landscapes.
Jane M. Mason has received numerous awards for her art, and her artwork is held in collections across the country. Her articles have appeared in many national magazines. She was named “One of the 2000 Outstanding Artists of the 20th Century” by International Biographical Center, Cambridge, England. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and two sons. She can be contacted at [email protected] and her Web site can be found at www.watchingpaintdry.com.