Sunday, July 26, 2015

Street Scene or Lemon into Lemonade

watercolour, 8x10 inches,various watercolour brands with a bit of gouche
my own photo reference

This watercolour is the result of a “lemon” kind of thing that happened to my watercolour board......which led to my title for this blog post.
I started out with my reference photo of a long ago street fair in Nashville. I wanted to focus on the crowd scene so I positioned that in the center of my composition. I've done plenty of buildings before so I figured I would ghost in some architectural details and let sunlight do the rest. I started out with my pour technique.....laying down some misket to reserve whites and pouring a yellow, then a red and finally a blue. This was done with a lot of water sprayed on the board.....and the very liquid watercolour wash done on top.

So far so good. With the multiple washes I'd laid down, the board (watercolour paper bonded to a cardboard backing....bought as a unit for watercolour painting) began to bow a bit in the middle. After it was dry I attempted to slightly bend it in the other direction, and went on painting, thinking no more about it.....BAD move! The next day I walked into the studio and found this:

In the center of the paper, the watercolour paper had separated from the cardboard backing. I tried to flatten this buckle down, by spritzing the buckle and letting it dry under heavy books....but no dice. The buckle was there to stay. So this is where the lemon = lemonade part comes in. I took a deep breath, and cut out the crowd portion of the watercolour board. It was not affected by the paper buckle. This section had the extra added attraction of really being the part of the whole painting I was really interested in, painting wise.

I was really pleased with what I'd already done on the street portion of the painting section. This older watercolour board had a tendency to show granulation (even dots of watercolour instead of a smooth wash) in some sections, so I went with that for the shadowed asphalt in the foreground. I had wanted to experiment with colourful shadows so I did a controlled heavy wash of dark compliments (a blue, red, and yellow gold) and let them meld together in this shadow space.

I did a lot of sputters and dots for the background crowd. I carefully drew the foreground walking men and the seated women to give a focus for the foreground. I wanted a really deep wash for the small columns under the awing, leaving the shadows to emphasize the crowd line. My misket wasn't as straight as it shoulda been, so the architectural detail was not convincing. So I did an experiment by wiping out some of the warm shadowed lines under the awning and relined the highlit columns more or less straight with a bit of gouche. The watercolour bled into the gouche and melded everything together. Not the highlights I would have wanted, but it read OK as that wasn't the main focus of this watercolour piece.

This watercolour piece has been a lot of fun to paint, as I was relieved from taking it too seriously....I mean it was just a salvaged piece of a biggie...right? This led me to a kind of “free place” to experiment with different kind of painting techniques without pressure. I may have to “ruin” more small watercolour pieces.....just to see how many different kind of techniques I can try!

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