Sunday morning light.

25 February, 2019. Sunday mornings are almost always magical. I get up early, as I do on most days. But there’s never much on my “to do” list, nor is there any real rush to get anywhere as there tends to be on work days. On sunny days, the light comes through the eastern facing windows of my kitchen, low and soft. No matter what is on the counter top, the long shadows and diffused, glowing light turns the viewing of those things into an aesthetic experience. This morning “those things” were lemons – but it could have just as easily been salt and pepper shakers, yesterday’s mail, or last night’s empty bottle of Bordeaux.

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Watercolor on Strathmore Aquarius II paper

These lemons were on my kitchen counter early this morning. I love the way the light struck them, and the long, cast shadows that drifted across the surface. The reflections of color on the counter top is also something that I enjoyed seeing.

I have tried to begin with highly detailed pencil sketches, only to discover that is simply too much information. If I’m painting, I have greater success beginning with as few light lines as possible to work out the composition and relative scale of things. From there, I’ll let the process kind of determine what happens. (If I’m working with pens, I’ll usually forgo any pencil lines at all and just begin drawing.)

Once upon a time I would laboriously dry brush my work. No longer! I’m more comfortable letting the water and pigment kind of “dance” around the page. It either works or it doesn’t.

Value contrast is what brings things to life in a watercolor painting. I feel particularly aware of those contrasts, as well as what is taking place in the contrast between positive and negative shapes. Although I originally thought the asymmetrical composition worked with the three lemons, I realized that the energy was on the right hand side of the sheet. I eventually ignored the third lemon and the left side of the composition, opting to crop the image to focus on the reflective glow rather than the depth of background.

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6 comments

  1. tellatale · February 25

    I enjoy reading your thought process as you paint. I like the less is more approach where with my minds eye I fill in the spaces.

    • azorch · February 25

      Aha! So, you’ve stumbled upon the true magic, which is imagination. 🙂

  2. tellatale · February 25

    Yes the ability to wonder is the best gift of all.

    • azorch · February 25

      Ha! I have been out-philosophized!

  3. Elizabeth Varadan · February 25

    These are beautiful. And I like to read your thought processes, too. Particularly you comment this morning: “Value contrast is what brings things to life in a watercolor painting.” You could say that about so many things. It’s true about writing. It’s true about life. BTW, I enjoy your writing as much as I enjoy your painting.

  4. azorch · February 25

    I often rely on contrasting elements to emphasize something, whether that “something” is some aspect of a sketch about which I feel particularly strongly or through language. Nothing seems to hone one’s outlook more sharply than standing next to one’s opposite.

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