Michele Clamp Art

Cathedral of St Joseph, San Jose

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Cathedral of St Joseph, San Jose. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14x11

Cathedral of St Joseph, San Jose. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14x11

The past few days I’ve been learning from Joseph Zbukvic’s painting.  After four days of this I was a bit jaded and losing enthusiasm.   It made me think how much of the satisfaction of painting is putting down your own interpretation of a scene.  Not just a straight representation but how you view something and which elements interest you.   All the time I was doing the Zbukvic copies that part of my brain was switched off and thus a big part of the joy of painting.   And no enjoyment = bad paintings.

So I was riffling through my back catalogue of ‘things I’d like to paint’ and I remembered our visit to San Jose last year.   I didn’t have any sketches but I’d taken some photos and one of the Basilica looked like a good candidate.   Here it is  



It’s not great as is but there’s lots I like.  The bright sun on the church walls,  the general shape of the building,  the palm tree.   And overall is the sense of California sunshine.     

There was a fair bit of rearranging and invention.    I took out various pieces - the tree, the front car and a lot of the signposts.    There was also some rearrangement - the background building encroaches on the church so I shifted it to one side. 

Off I went and tried to remember the guidelines : 

 - Big shapes with smaller regions of smaller shapes. 

 - Keep those values fairly constant within the big shapes. 

 - Economy of brushstrokes - no dabbing! 

 - Keep the color palette small.    


I also moved back to Fabriano Artistico paper.    I generally prefer this to most other papers.   The color seems to flow better across the surface and the colors end up brighter.    Arches in particular soaks up water like crazy which can dull colors when it dries. 

So - mid way through what did we have? 



Not too shabby!  Shapes are good,   Values are pretty good,   Darks are being connected so the cars don’t look stuck on.   And most importantly I was actually enjoying it! 

There was one thing, however.  The shadows between the pillars on the front of the church were bothering me.   So in the evening, sitting downstairs with the ipad,    I imported the photo and overdoodled on it with the procreate drawing app.   I pushed back the shadows and added in some elements I planned to add in in the next stage.


Ha!   I was pretty pleased with this.    Definitely need to lift off those shadows and my plan of a large foreground shadow fitted in well.

So here’s the end result.   I’m pretty happy.