I know, I always say that I don’t like sunset paintings. The main reason is that they don’t seem to work very well in watercolor. These are two semi sunsets, sort of like the late light in the day. They are just made for watercolor, for the simple reason that the buildings are backlit. That way, you’re really just painting the silhouttes.
I found that although I didn’t paint in lots of windows, they still seem to be there! I am banking on the fact that the eyes of the viewer put them in, so to speak. There seem to be many details but it really is all just an illusion. I even omitted the headlights on the car and it works just fine..
On of the most difficult things in painting is to simplify objects so they still tell the story without looking overworked. If you paint a building with 20 windows and put them all in, just like in the photograph, your work will look stilted and tight.
How do you do it? By treating every single shape as part of the whole painting. How important is the window in the overall design of the painting? Not very…So, a simple suggestion with one or two brushstrokes is enough! What’s really important is the shape of the building! That has to be painted right.
Although I am doing a lot of plein aire painting in San Pedro lately, I decided to stay with the french theme and post these older images of Paris first. San Pedro – as far away from Paris as you can possibly get…
My class is getting ready to learn how to paint water. Arguably one of the more difficult things to do in watercolor. The major problem, like most of the time in watercolor painting, is of course, timing.
Water must be painted wet in wet to accomplish the nice soft waves, unless we are trying to do hard reflections. Most of the time we are doing both.
To illustrate this point, we can look at the pieces I posted and quickly see that both types of reflections are present in the two paintings. The first step is to establish the background wash and add the soft waves while the entire wash is still wet. That basically means we have to work quickly and efficiently!
The important part about the hard reflections is to connect them more or less seamlessly with the object that is reflected, i.e. the bridge, wall, boat hull etc. If you neglect this step, it won’t look right! Lastly, don’t put too many reflections! Less is more and it takes a bit of practice to put them in the right place, so don’t give up if the first attempts don’t come out so well…
These bridges in Paris are known the world over, so I’ll forgo a detailed description. As in most of my work, l am drawn to the more moody scenes and subject matter. Paris is certainly the perfect place for that and even in bad weather there is an unbelievable degree of mood there, maybe even more so than on a nice day! To capture scenes like this, we have to simplify a lot! We basically paint ‘as if ‘ we put everything in.
If you look at the detail on the houses in ‘Pont neuf’, it looks as though I painted all the windows, gables etc, but from up close it’s just a few darker against lighter value shapes. Nothing really there…
As has been stated many times before, paint the essence not the detail!