Yellow Barn - Lima NY
Watercolor on Arches 300lb cold press paper
As a quick recap I spent time photographing old barns while I was in upstate New York for Thanksgiving. I decided to do a small project where I would do the same subject as a photo, a digital painting, a watercolor and an acrylic. I chose a very cool series of yellow barns I found in Lima, New York. The unexpected color looked great on this particular overcast fall morning and it is the one I chose for this project. I am three quarters of the way done. Just the acrylic waits to be started. I will work on it today as the first course in my project management class starts tomorrow. I had every intention of showing this painting as I completed each stage, but from when I started washing in the background to two hours later when it was done I never stopped painting. So you get the finished product. I kept a pretty limited palette for this piece. It is done with various mixes of four colors. One of the things I have learned along the way as a painter especially for landscape and nature scenes is working with a limited palette and not using too many colors out of the tube will help your painting feel unified and give it color harmony. Careful selections of these colors like tending to use all warm or all cool versions of each color and using transparent colors when possible will keep you from getting muddy colors. I like fast loose paintings, but I also like architectural renderings. So you will often find elements of both in my paintings. I suppose that is why I like barns and lighthouses so much, they give me the opportunity to do both. I made one design choice that helped the painting and now I wish I had done some work in progress photos. In the original photo and in traditional painting things in the distance get lighter and cooler. It helps a painter explain the space and tell the story based on how we naturally see the world around us. In the early version of this painting the hill to the right was much lighter, but that posed a problem. The value (lightness/darkness) of the barns was close to the value of the hill and the barns just kind of washed out to the right. This caused the barns even with their warm yellow color to recede into the painting and gave your eye no place to stop and rest. Since the barns are left of center in the painting I was able to darken the hill on the right and force the barns front and center. It is a much more pleasing painting because of that break in the 'rules' made on the fly. So, here is the lesson of the this particular post. Watercolor is won or lost in the time it takes for a wash to dry. That is pretty quick. So when something does not feel right take a minute and decide what it is and make the course correction. A word of warning though. That very advice I give you now has led to dozens of rejects in my studio. Sometimes everything is just right and does not need to be changed. Inexperience and lack of confidence in yourself as a painter will sometimes cause you to make a bad decision. Ok. This is lesson two of this post. It is quite OK to crash and burn a painting. What have you wasted some paint and paper and what you have gained is knowledge of one more way not to attack a painting. Watercolor is a devilishly tricky mistress. You will make tons of mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and take another whack at it. If you are like me and have heard the siren song of watercolor calling to you then you can't help painting and hang on it can be a bumpy ride.
Keep Making' Art!