Watercolor Projects

In my world of keeping our property running by fixing plumbing, bringing in firewood, , working in the garden, building the temple, inventing machine projects, making pottery, creating jewelry, keeping our cars running, working with wood, I needed something to help me relax.

Zoes watercolor of Nik paintingWe sat on the Oregon coast with some friends a few years ago. I was trying to relax which is hard for me with nothing to occupy my hands and Zoe plopped a set of watercolors in my lap and a pad of paper. “Here, try this.”
I was more than reluctant. I mean watercolors? Me, the toughest hombre in two states, Mister Biker Bob, picking up a brush and mixing color with just water? How childish!
Usually, I can sit on the coast for about fifteen minutes before I’m ready to jump out of my skin. I’m constantly encouraging my wife to hurry up and enjoy herself so we can go. Sometime I have to go sit in the car just to feel like I’m ready to go. I know, I’m a mess and during those times not so easy to live with. Hey, what can I say?
I reluctantly picked up that brush and I sat on that beach for 6 hours without even a whisper of wanting to go. I’ve been painting ever since, sometime not so successfully, but always moving forward to new vistas, new horizons. This first painting is of me painted by Zoe while I sat there that first day completely engrossed in painting.


This is not that painting, but one I painted soon after while sitting in the shade at the Yuba River a few miles from my home while Barbara swam in the warm summer water.





After many trials and a huge learning curve, this next one came later that autumn while turning a mishap into a free form sketch.






After another dozen mishaps and throw away trials,  later that autumn I succeeded in painting Edwards Crossing Bridge (as yet to be finished) while sitting on the trail in my lawn chair about a quarter mile down stream.
There were a lot of mishap painting between that I won’t show, but this one I started later that autumn while sitting in the sand on the Elk beach. Barbara was collecting rocks and shells, her favorite past time.
Though I like the piece, that breaking wave bothered me, so I began a month long process of figuring out how to paint waves.
That same weekend I started the next day when we hiked down a cliff to the wild Pacific coast of Jug Handle beach enveloped in dense fog. I was able to sketch the basic shapes in color, then finished it at home later that week.

After another half dozen trial and error pieces, this next one came out great.






This next one came sitting at my kitchen table at home still working on making waves look realistic. I am getting closer.

Spent the weekend at Sierra Hot Springs and did a color sketch of the cottonwood tree out front (unfinished)








Okay, it’s time to try faces. After several false starts I was able to pull this one of an old man out of the hat.


Next I took that woman and added some balance.

Okay, enough of that. Let’s go to the rice fields of the Sacramento Valley in Summer.

Very soon after this rice fields piece, I found a photo of a 1953 Cadillac and I wanted to incorporate it into a scene.

It was a fun piece to add the cattle to the scene. I am now looking everywhere for more barns to paint.  Soon after this piece was finished, I began working on a few freeform pieces that were quick and fun and helped me loosen up with brush strokes.












We live deep in the forest among 300 year old fir and incense cedars so the next piece came from my love of our little section of forest. No, we don’t have a cascading river, but the Yuba River is close enough to hear when the water is high in the winter.


Next is a painting of an old woman I finished December 2012.

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One thought on “Watercolor Projects

  1. Ann Sheridan

    Sweet Nik, Enjoyed the way you shared your process of learning. I did a portrait of Toni Morrison in tinted charcoal from a newspaper photo. When I got to her hair, in dreads, I thot, “how am I gonna’ do that hair?? Instantly, my fingers remembered the feeling of untwisting a tight ringlet of Orion’s hair. Ingrid married an African from Burkina Faso and I have two stunningly beautiful mulatto grandsons, 8 and 3. the artist in me responded to the feeling in my fingers and I drew Toni’s hair rather easily. Ain’t it neat how we learn? Fondly, Ann

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