Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Being Painterly

Tried painting watercolors in a painterly way today using a couple of methods I had seen or read about. Got out the paintbrush and went after it without any preliminary sketches. Below are my shamefaced attempts.


Tried the method of "Just Paint the Shapes." This is a view into downtown looking east. The setting sun was glowing on the face of the tall white buildings in the distance and that's what caught my eye.

I made the white buildings tooooo small. They were actually supposed to be the focus. Those blue blobs with the black lines that look like transformers on the utility pole are actually the windows to the white building. The big blue blob at the bottom is the roof of a house.

I liked the tangle of utility lines in the photo, but I probably should have drawn the wires in with a pen instead of painting them. I also don't like the four color palette. If I had do-over, I would change the red brick color of the building on the left to the warm yellow of the building on the right.

Must remember these things.


I found a lady in NYC who had the most amazing watercolors that were vivid and "loose" I guess you would say. There was a lot of white space between the brushstrokes which made the painting sharp and crisp. Very un-watercolor-like compared to most, but there was a dreamy watercoloryness to it still.

I liked 'em real much and tried to emulate the style. Oy. Big Fail.

At least Hubby recognized the building. I like the little bit under the yellow tree. That came closest to what I was aiming for. I also like the odd pink color in the sky. It kinda got away from me, but still I put red in the sky where it didn't belong.

The dark gray monolith on the right is a big fail because I got it too dark. It should have been just a little bit darker than the shadow on the side of the other building (which was perfect BTW.) I like the bit of blue dropped into the monolith. Had it been lighter gray that would have looked neat. I didn't even try on the windows of the monolith because the painting was ruined at that point anyway.

Oh well, onward through the fog.


A lady in north Arkansas blogs about her chickens and posts a picture of them every day. I thought I would try the sketchy whitespace method of watercolor on today's photo.

This came out OK I suppose, but it's not what I was trying to do. There is way too much detail on the big chicken. He should have been more liquidy watercolory. The other too are close to right, but are too hard edged. I should have scootched the bottom chicken over to the right a bit and given him a head. Composition, composition, composition. When will I ever learn???? I painted it just as it was in the photo. Must learn to edit in my head.

I rather like the 1950's retro kitchen wallpaper look to this though.


Thought I would give the chicken pic another shot. Messed it up horribly and washed over the whole thing with Raw Sienna in frustration. Turned it into mud.

After it dried it started growing on me. I kinda like it.


Sarah M said...

Great post! I love how you find at least one thing positive in each one of what you call your failures. I wish I could critique my own work like that, I would learn so much more! The third painting (chickens) is my favourite (I'm a bird junkie). Aside from the middle chicken with the missing head, I think it's great. Love the green brushstrokes around the top edge and the ground.

Monkey Mind said...

For a watercolor beginner I'd say these are pretty good. Watercolor is hard to work with - I see the essence of something that could be really good work with practice. I rather like the first one. My first attempts - ugghhh. Keep up the watercolor work, I think you have something there.

polusladkaia said...

I know years from now, if you're really looking at these, you will think, what was I thinking? these are wonderful. They really are loose and cool. Each has genuine attitude and a story!

For me the trick is to not stop when I think it's a mess, but keep adding and subtracting. Eventually every mess becomes something I like! Usually, the more frustrating the process the better I like the outcome. Maybe I am just stubborn!!

Thank you for articulating this travail we all share!

Speck said...

Sarah - Thanks! I'll try to avoid painting headless chickens from now on. LOL!

Monkey - I struggle with watercolor because I love precise, technically detailed drawings. WC is not the medium for that. I just can't help myself, I feel the need to put in every little detail. I'm working on the addiction.

P. - I'm looking at them now and wondering what was I thinking. :)
Thank you for the kind words. I'll keep on travailling until the secret of WC clicks in my head some day.