Thursday, January 22, 2015

Intermediate Watercolor, 1/21/15 How to Know What to Do ; Designing an Inquiry

 This photo has an irresistible composition. The interlocking shapes make a strong frame that surrounds the sunlit courtyard. The values are so distinct - light, middle, dark - I don't feel the need to do a monochrome study, but something about the space concerns me. I suspect that if I paint it just as it looks, the walls in the middle distance will converge with the ones in the foreground. To test this, try closing one eye.  There needs to be more difference between the nearby shapes and the ones across the courtyard. Right now, the color and value of both are too similar where they overlap. Can I solve that by adjusting the color of one or the other, or is this a job for softer edges on the more distant shapes? Maybe both? How can I most efficiently find the answers to these questions? Will it require a study of the whole scene?

Now that i've considered what the problem is and some possible ways to solve it, I can see the issues much more clearly. It probably won't take a full image study to get the answers, after all. I can focus on just the places where the space is confusing.
See the short triangle of light (point upward) in the center of the scene? The job is to get it to separate from the similarly colored light rectangle it's adjacent to (dead center). I don't want to make one much darker than the other or I'll violate the consistency of light and shadow, but a little color difference along a hard edge would certainly do the trick. There. Problem solved. No study necessary. Sometimes just clarifying the question provides the answer!

Something's wrong with this photo. I suspect it has to do with composition, but I can't quite put my finger on it. I hope someone takes this on.

Even when you are sure you're ready to launch into a proper painting of your subject, it's still a good idea take a good, long look at the relative values first. For example, just how light is that "white" car? Is it darker than the window?
I like to bracket each shape by filling in the sentence, "This is lighter than ____, but darker than ____."

Pick one of these images, or use one of your own. Try to identify what looks tricky to you, and clarify what makes it tricky. Plan a study that will give you the information you need to proceed to paint the scene with confidence. Take notes! Have fun.


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