Living in Calgary the mountains are an iconic part of the landscape. They are certainly majestic but I find that I am drawn much more to the beauty of the foothills. The scale, rhythm, and line of the foothills is so much more user friendly. I was reminded of this again when I was a guest instructor this week at the Leighton Centre. On the way home I took this photo which I think really captures the colour and feel of these particular foothills.
The painting is a scene just beside where the photo was taken. I think it has a very nice feel of recession into the distance and I love the pond as a centre of interest. The pond is actually located a few kilometres from the photo but I felt that the painting needed something to break up all the green.
I’m having an animated discussion with my wife about this painting at the moment. She thinks the cow blocks the eye from going to the centre of interest. She is also adamant that the tower on the horizon totally takes away from the bucolic nature of the scene. I feel that it helps break up the sky. I realize that the painting is too fresh in my mind and I’ve fallen in love with it and can’t see any mistakes. In particular I like the cow. As always, living with a painting will allow me see it objectively at some point. My wife is rarely wrong with her critiques. Sometimes but not often.
Fast forward one week!
This new version I feel is a much stronger painting. Now, the arrangement of the cows actually connects with the pond forming a nice triangle. Removing the tower also helps to focus the front of the painting. It’s too much detail way back there in the hazy distance.
A very interesting aspect of this version is the use of gouache which is an opaque watercolour. With it it’s possible to create whites or various other lights right over dark passages. In this particular case that was the only way to paint the other 2 cows. The use of gouache is still, in some circles, considered to be a breach of the watercolour rules but I don’t subscribe to that view. If it helps the painting it’s good and in this case it certainly helps the painting.