I try to make sure that I include play as an important part of my painting process. This is where I just try things to see what they look like. I find I learn a lot in these ‘fun’ times. This painting is a beautiful case in point.
This is a painting of the Empire Building in Edmonton. This painting just uses the basic shape of the buildings as they actually are. I wanted to see if I could completely change the lighting to go with this extreme sunrise theme. I also wanted to see if the building were interesting enough shapes. The painting turned out absolutely fine, but nothing special.
I thought both the sunrise theme and the shapes of the buildings were fine but then why isn’t it very interesting. The thing that jumped out was that the buildings in the background are as detailed as the closer buildings. This gets the eye wandering down to the background too much. I asked myself what is my story? Where do I want your eye to go? For me the story is the life on the street in the front so in this painting there are too many distractions.
So I redid it with the clear intention to push the background buildings further back and keep the detail only in the closest buildings.
In this version your eye is definitely drawn more to the foreground. It’s a more focused and comfortable visual experience.
Last week I was able to attend the funeral in England of a long time friend. I was actually born in England though I have only lived there about 5 years in my life. Still the country, the landscape, the people and especially the architecture always calls to me.
I had hoped to take the opportunity to do a lot of painting but it just wasn’t possible. However, I did manage to find some time to do some sketching. This really reinforced the power of sketching. It is intense observing and a great preparation for future paintings. I found those moments when I could get away and take 30 – 60 minutes just to sketch quite magical.
In cafes or at the train station or just getting off the main road and taking in some the historical buildings there are so many opportunities to sketch and that time spent engaged is so very rewarding.
Here are some of the sketches it did.
The only painting I got to do was in the beautiful town of Beverley from a coffee shop.
It is a truism that if you sketch a place you will remember so much more of that place than you will from any photo. When I look at these sketches I can re-experience the sights, the sounds, the light and the feelings. Wonderful!
I worked hard not to title this post Plein Air Currie Barracks. I felt that I had to create a title that would attract people’s attention more because in reality it is another in the never ending series based on the Currie Barracks. I’ve never found as much inspiration as I have at this location . . . and it’s only minutes away.
Anyway, I did a previous plein air version of this painting which included the entire side of the building. This time I wanted to zero in on the real story which was this small room and the connecting shadows. Emphasizing this part gives it more of a narrative and human element. The first version just recorded the scene.
I love that the 2 little windows right at the front seem to be eyes looking out.
I also like the big tree on the left which adds a nice element of depth to the painting especially with the bits of white gouache over the darker watercolour washes.
Here’s Looking At You
watercolour & white gouache
9 X 12