10th Street Breakdown – The Story Of A Painting

Rex Beanland, 10th Street, watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown











Rex Beanland, 10th Street Breakdown, watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown (Work In Progress)







Rex Beanland, 10th Street Breakdown (Original) , watercolour, 18 x 24

10th Street Breakdown (Original)












This is another story of a painting.   I always this view looking up 10th Street towards SAIT.  The bottom image is how it began life.  This particular image shows the original version in one of it’s earlier stages.    I thought the composition had some promise but overall it didn’t do much for me . . . and so it sat for quite a while.

The middle image is the first reworking of it with greater contrast and especially more people added to create a sense of story.  Definitely stronger but still far from a wow painting.

Recently, I had occasion to really examine it and I was motivated to try to bring it to life.  Again with a lot of help and insights from my wife, Susan we identified a number of issues including:

• not a strong enough sense of light
• not a strong  centre of interest
• the buildings on the right front didn’t balance the buildings on the left (even though they are fairly accurate)
• the banners on the left were too low
• I also felt that the car on the left should exit the frame

Since there was already so much paint on it I had to do much of the renovation with gouache.  By the end I felt that the original placement of the car on the left was better so I went back to that.  Enlarging the buildings on the left and raising the banners made a big difference.  All the changes have made it a much stronger painting with a fairly compelling story.

I would also like to mention the usefulness of gouache.  It is certainly a wonderful medium in it’s own right but as a way to change/fix failed watercolours it is great.  There is a real freedom being able to add the light over dark.  Gouache has quite a different texture to transparent watercolour but when it’s integrated well into a painting it fits right in.

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