This is a painting of…well, which European city is it?
Here’s a clue: An Italian painter named Bernardo Bellotto painted there a lot back in the 18th century. He was the student and nephew of the renowned Canaletto.
Here’s another: This city is also known for a controversial Allied bombing towards the end of WW2 where the entire city center was destroyed in what is commonly referred to as ‘the firestorm’.
You should have it by now…
This is a very dramatic painting with a very limited palette. I went to this city earlier this year and painted on location. This painting however, was not done plein air. It is sort of an experiment, actually.
Some artists think you can’t paint darks with watercolors and I have to say, it is a tricky business especially when it comes to layering. Two washes is the maximum with darks, I think. One of the hardest things to achieve in this piece is the subtle variety of values that *has* to be just right, otherwise the painting will not work!
The sky was painted first with a wash of cadmium orange all the way to the horizon line. The next step is a bit unnerving and maybe takes a few attempts. Basically, you wait about 40 seconds and mix the clouds( a purple wash in thicker consistency) while the paper wants to dry!
You have to work quickly and decisively, with the utmost economy of brushwork. The more you touch your paper, the worse you make it!
After that, I lift out some of the ‘silver linings’ of the clouds. Yes, while it is still wet and really, really wants to dry now….
As I say in my article in the watercolor artist’s magazine: Watercolor painting is risky business!
Wouldn’t it be nice to be an oil painter? sigh… hey, just kidding!! This is way more exciting!
In the detail shot you’ll notice that certain areas within the darker foreground are actually a lot lighter. This is where I dropped some water to have a nice variety in values. When the painting was completely dry, I scratched out some of the highlights with a blade. No gouache in this work anywhere. Well, what do you think?