Sometimes You’re Hitting on All Cylinders…

19 February, 2017. In watercolor I often search for that elusive, restrained quality – hoping to leave out as much detail as possible, yet still render a convincing and believable image. I felt it almost immediately with this little 9 x 7 inch sketch, starting with the main triangular form immediately above the front porch as I quickly and loosely slopped down the pale cerulean blue wash, leaving pure white to define the negative shapes. Then I moved on to the big shadow area under the porch, which was what caught my attention in the first place. I just wanted to paint the shadow, accurate to a level of believability, but without extraneous detail. And to be honest, I was pretty excited when it worked. In real life, these colors are kind of bland, but the limited palette of blues, complimented only with very slight mixtures of yellow ochre are quite pleasing to my eye.

This little 5 x 7 inch sketch also felt restrained – surprising, in a way, because I used a flat brush for the entire painting. Why surprising? Well, mostly because I almost never use a flat at all. I’m awkward with them. I’m not certain even why I did so, but happy that I did. Possibly, all of the rectangular shapes and flat colors informed my decision.

This 5 x 7 inch sketch almost feels overworked, and presents more detail than in the previous two. I always enjoy finding ways to loosen things up with blooms, as happens in the pavement foreground here. But the orange theatre almost comes off looking like gouache, the yellow ochre blend coming off a bit opaque. Still, the shadow feels about right, and in addition to that Art Deco sign, rendering the shadow convincingly was my goal.


All sketches were made with a limited palette, using water brushes on Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper.

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