A few days ago I posted a value sketch that looked something like this (but monochrome) for a painting I was planning to work on. Well, I turned it into a painting and it was a disaster. And the reason was that I had thought about the values but not the colours. So when I went to put some pigment on the paper it was a huge mess. Plus I added a first wash on dry paper and then decided I wanted to work wet-in-wet so I tried to rinse out what I had done. Yikes! Some of the pigments were staining and they left an unpleasant glow on the paper. It goes without saying that it will never be posted. This new sketch is my attempt to figure out the colour first so I don’t mess it up a second time.
This post should really be called “The stuff I haven’t done ’cause I’ve been sketching”. Transferring these perennials to a hole in the ground before winter really sets in is one of many chores on a long list in my head. But who wants to do that stuff when you can paint instead? I know I have painted these pots before — there are spring and fall renditions — but the long winter shadows were too beautiful to resist. And the chores, well, they will get done eventually.
I don’t do much painting at dusk but today I was near the lake at just the right time so I did a quick sketch in the car. It was harder than I imagined. The winter light changes so fast! In the span of 15 minutes (the time it took to put most of the information down) I went from being able to see my colours on my palette and on my paper to practically working blind. I had to darken the branches when I got home. It was a great exercise in speed painting.
Every time I go to the Jean Talon Market I notice these back alley structures — mostly houses with sheds and garages, and some gardens in between. But the most interesting one, by far, is a two-storey shed with an outdoor walkways that leads up to the house. I hope to paint this sometime soon so I have been working out the values for it.
Doing these little value sketches helps me immensely to clarify what I want to do in the painting. At the same time I can eliminate unnecessary shapes that I feel will detract from the composition. And as always, if it works out, I will post it.
There are days when I drive around scouting for something interesting to sketch and nothing catches my eye. Until I really slow down, or park, or park and sit awhile. Then I start to see interesting shapes or shadows or preferably both. The landscape is not very inspiring these days because the leaves are off the trees and there is no snow yet, resulting in a rather gray vista, but this week the light is crisp and bright, making for some great shadow shapes.
Lucky me. No one needed milk or honey while I was drawing this at my favourite Thursday sketching spot.
Today I had a chance to do a real painting using a wet-in-wet technique, something I haven’t done in many years. Now that I have a place to work I can use larger paper, like this 1/4 size sheet of Fabriano (larger than anything I have done this year!). I can’t paint like this in my car because it requires me to completely saturate the paper — both sides — and then remove the surface water. A bit of a messy business unless you are in the proximity of a sink. It gives me great hope that I will do more of these this winter.
I have no idea what to call this structure but it was on my left when I was painting the houses in my post of a few days ago (Corner). I was so intrigued by the beauty of the rusted blue metal structure that I went back today to sketch it. It is on the property of a company that does industrial metal fabrication (makes sense!) but even with all my googling I couldn’t figure out what these were.
When I left school today I realized I had to take advantage of the record-breaking warm November day. After all, how many more days will I be able to sit outside to paint before the real cold sets in? The light was hitting the roof of the church next to the campus just perfectly, so I grabbed my sketch stuff from the car, found a bench and painted right there.
Here is the colour version of yesterday’s value sketch, painted with a limited palette of cobalt blue, raw sienna and carmine.