Amy Lamp

Designer, maker, pet enthusiast

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Scene from the Redwood Forest

It's sometimes hard for me to commit to putting paint on papers, so before beginning my texture swatches I did several sketches with an ink pen. It was a good first step for me because it allowed me to get some ideas out in small form before doing a whole swatch of them.

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I selected my favorite sketches and started making my swatches, adding some others that came to mind. And it was hard to stop! I really enjoyed making these little textures because patterns have always been appealing to me, and I hadn't thought to make them with watercolor before. I played with adding ink to a few of the textures just to see where it would go and I'd definitely like to do more of that.

I had a vague idea to do a scene from the Redwood forest in northern California. That's where we spent our summer vacation and the plants and wildlife there were fantastic. I'm a huge fan of the big trees :)

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Some of the textures lend themselves to a natural scene like I had in mind, and others I'll keep in mind for future projects.

After referencing some source photos on the spotted owl, the Redwood forests, and the Smith River that flows near our vacation spot, I did a few thumbnail sketches to test out the composition (the upper right sketch was my final, not the large one):

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I just got my new earth tone paints for my palette so I was itching to use a lot of them for my painting. I was happy to include a bright pink for some flowers, too.

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I followed Ana's advice and committed to my painting! I worked on it a section at a time over the course of several days, and kept going even after I started to get the feeling it wasn't going to be as great as I envisioned in my head. There are some parts I love and some that don't seem to be working so well.

What went well:

  • I love the textures in the trees and rocks
  • the bright color of the flowers
  • the trout in the stream
  • the flowing leaf pattern in the bushy plant behind the three flowers on the right

What could be improved:

  • I don't think there's enough difference in scale between many of the elements, so it's hard to tell what's important
  • the elements seem to run together — maybe my paint colors were too similar in saturation or value? Adding the outlines helped a little...
  • the large white space behind the owl seems unfinished, but maybe it's a good way to highlight the owl as the focus — I'm torn on that

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Since I'm too close to it to see it objectively and I'm always looking to improve my skills, I'd love to hear feedback if anyone has it!

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