Sunday, September 14, 2008

River Bank Strummer (10"x7")

I spent a couple of hours down by the riverside today. Just 5 minutes from my house there's a lovely park that borders the Bow River on the north. For those of you in Calgary I was painting at Bowmont Park. This gorgeous park runs 4 kms along the north side of the Bow from Home Road to Nose Hill Drive. I can drive right down to the river and park near the railroad bridge. There's a little island in the river and a ped bridge hops over to the island and then crosses the main part of the Bow into Bowness.

I set up right on the rocks across the river from a huge retaining wall. I liked the patterns of light that were happening along the steep back yards of the homes to the south. The light was streaming in on an alarmingly sharp angle for 2pm... it is definitely fall. The shadows of the tall blue spruce trees threw some nice long shadows. A red roof with a white chimney poked through and caught my eye... and I began to draw. Just as I finished up my value sketch, a fellow in a red shirt came along and sat down on the retaining wall... I thought he was reading but now that I'm home and I look at my photos I can clearly see he is playing a guitar!

I enjoyed the 2 hours I spent painting and puttering so much. Children were laughing and throwing sticks for their dogs (it's an off-leash area), and LOTS of folks drifted by in their dinghies, kayaks, and canoes. I took quite a few photos and had some laughs with dog owners when their pets show a strong interest in sniffing my paints (honey based!).

I came home at 5 with a painting I did not like at all. I struggled with water control due to the warm, very dry air and I missed my 1" flat which I left at home. In warm dry air there's no time to fiddle with paint... it should be stroked on and left alone shortly thereafter until completely dry. Well, that didn't happen. Here's what my painting looked like when I got home:

As you can see it's dark, very dark. Before I took this photo I'd run some sandpaper across the river to get some sparkle back. That helped but I felt I should use some scrubbing out to get me back some lighter values. At this point I had a failed painting so why not practice some of these other "disaster recovery" skills, right?

Here's the photo after I lifted out sunny areas in the backyards, lighter areas in the trees, some gouache "sparkle" cheat, etc.:
When I looked at this version on my computer screen I felt there was still something obvious missing and I realized that the mesh of the fence needed to be shown, at least in places. I managed to indicate some light fence mesh by applying clean water in tiny lines in a few places... after it sat a few seconds I blotted up the paint. In some places I painted mesh in lightly with a blue-grey mix. I think that helped some.

After that was done I took this photo: Although I can't call this a successful painting, I got the following benefits from this painting experience:
  • Practiced just about every watercolor technique I've learned thus far...
  • Enjoyed 2 hours outside on a beautiful day with happy people all around me...
  • Compiled quite a detailed study (value, color, etc) of this scene for future work
  • Honed my observation skills
  • and, I blogged about it!

My goal this week is to execute a larger painting... Stay tuned and - Happy Monday everybody!

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1 comment:

Sylvia Jenstad said...

had to stop... love your colours... really cool