These 2 paintings are recent plein air studies. I have always been a big fan of plein air painting even thought I didn’t actually do it all that much. This past year I have done it more consistently than ever before. While that in itself is a big step forward, the more I do it the more I expect to achieve each time. At first I was happy if my painting looked like the scene. The closer it was to the actual scene the happier I was. Now, however, I feel the need to raise the bar. Yes, I want it to be fairly accurate but more importantly I want it to be a painting that tells a story, in other words a painting with substance.
I was very happy with Bella Roma because I think the values are accurate and the drawing is good. It was a day with just a bit of sun so there weren’t really strong contrasts. But mostly what I like is the centre of interest. With the people and the darks in the door I think it has a story. In 5th Street my goal was just to get a realistic value pattern. It was a little more challenging than Bella Roma because of the bushes and the tree. I wanted to also create a strong contrast between the shadowed building and the sun lit lawn.
So mission accomplished?
In many ways yes, but in the bottom image I still had to do the darker wash on the side of the house with 2 washes. In watercolour it’s so important to try to get it in that first wash because that first wash has the magic and the glow that watercolour is famous for. As soon as you let that dry and go over it again you start to lose that freshness. It can still be effective but it lacks the magic.
I was so pleased that today (when I did 5th Street) I spent an unusual amount of time after I had done the drawing to squint and identify the value pattern. I identified it quite well in my mind but there is still work to be done get it get it on paper, the first time. Still I’m happy with this step.
I happened to see some video of skateboarders recently and did these quick little studies. It was fascinating to catch the human body in these unusual and very active poses. This is definitely material that will find it’s way into a painting in the future. These images weren’t done in a true plein air manner but I thought that they sort of fit in with the spirit of plein air.