The Kensington Market area of Toronto has always been a favourite of mine. In the summer the narrow streets are crowded with shoppers, residents and sightseers. It’s an ethnic area, now heavily Chinese influenced. I passed a very pleasant morning there while I was in Toronto recently receiving my membership in the Canadian Society Of Painters In Watercolour. I did a plein air painting, sitting just where the second figure is. This was the view from the market that I painted at that time.
I’m very pleased with this painting because it really captures what I felt about this particular street. I love the colour, the vitality of the area even if the buildings are quite old and not always in the greatest condition. It took me just about 90 minutes to do which I also like. Capture the essence quickly. It’s about deciding what inspired me in this photo and then constantly keeping that thought in mind as I worked to describe my vision. There was a lot of detail in the photo particularly in the store windows so it was necessary to eliminate most of it and to try to suggest the rest. I love this liberating style of painting. Don’t get bogged down in detail. It’s the feeling that counts and I think it comes through in this painting.
Technically, what I’ve been most concerned with lately is to work ‘alla prima’ which literally means ‘first go’. In order to do this it’s imperative to use the correct colour and especially the correct value in each wash the first time. In watercolour that is a challenge since it dries so much lighter but really it doesn’t take very long until you can accurately translate what you see, wet in the palette, with how it will appear when dry on paper.