Not until you do some ‘visioneering’. I have adapted this term from the great watercolor painter Robert Wade, who is in his eighties now but still going strong!
What he means is basically what I preach in my classes as well: do not just copy the photograph! Being able to paint something as it is, or copy what’s on the reference is irrelevant! Treat the reference as exactly that, a reference!
The goal should always be to capture the character, a feeling, a mood etc. Only then do we rise to the next level. Not an easy thing to do, but no-one said that painting well is easy, right?
The reason I wanted to paint this was the lovely shadow on the building in the late afternoon light. I took this picture in the south of France, a place called Isle-sur-la-sorge. As you can see, I changed the angles a bit to make it more interesting. On the photograph, the shadow seems to cut the building in half. Also, there’s not a whole lot going on in this picture, is there? We need to do some visioneering! Add a few figures, some lights and a vehicle and, voilá, we might just have a painting! Please note that I didn’t try to copy the building too closely, yet ironically, it looks a lot like what’s on the photograph, doesn’t it?
I didn’t use any chinese white. Not in any of the lights, nor in any of the dark washes. Texture was achieved by spattering water or pure pigment. The lighter shutters in the dark areas where lifted while the wash was still damp, i.e. wet. I try to avoid lifting when the washes are dry. To me, it feels too much like ‘fixing’ things..but that’s just me, if you’re happy to lift and use chinese white: go for it. I just prefer not to!
Thank you for looking!