Every year the Mister puts on a small race in the Santa Fe forest, called the Sante Fe Baldy Fatass.  (A fatass is a race that's free, but you provide your own support)  It's a challenging 50K up and over Mt. Baldy.  

This year, he had the idea that the prize for the winner could be a watercolor + pen&ink done by me.  

I decided to pick this photo (below) to try to do.  It's a view of Katherine Lake from Mt. Baldy.  I like the split complementary color scheme.  

But I'm having a a hell of a time with this self-imposed assignment!

I did three separate attempts on three sheets of Strathmore 140-lb watercolor paper.  I used watercolor pencil and micron pens.  

I'm beginning to like watercolors.  I like that you can activate them and move the color around a bit.  However, I don't like that you can activate them.  I need to learn more.  FOr instance, you can't glaze in watercolor.  Maybe a wash beforehand might take the place of glazing, but I'm not sure how to pull off something like rocks under the water.

I've been practicing with watercolor pencil because I'm planning on taking my brand new Guerilla Painter pocket box (5x7) to Tahoe this weekend, and I think the watercolor pencils are easier to manage than cake watercolors.  I'm also taking my micron pens and some waterbrushes.

Here's attempt number 1: I'm happy with how the lake turned out.  However, I don't feel colors are quite right.  The neutrals are too warm and light, and I don't feel there's enough contrast between the local colors.  I may try to fix this by adding some gamboge.

Attempt number 2.  I'm happier with the contrast in the color scheme here. I added some more yellow oche and gamboge hue. However, the lake is just a clusterf*ck, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it.  

Attempt #3.  I'm more pleased with this one.  Still not sure about the lake, but the forground is better, I think.  I still want to add some more gamboge hue later on to ramp up the contrast.

SO What have I learned?  I've learned that for now, I tend to overwork my watercolors.  My workaround for that is to work for about 20 minutes, and then go away for a few hours.

I also think that since I"m working with watercolor pencil, I'm going to next try using the smoother side of the paper and see if I get better activation of the colors.