Michele Clamp Art

Buildings

For completeness - the bad and the ugly

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After a relatively successful bird this morning I did a couple extra this afternoon. One was yet another stab at the Ponte Vecchio scene and the final one was the tower of Dunster House at Harvard. No comment really but it’s getting harder to see a way forward.

This is a previous version done in Jan 2016. Frankly I like this more - it has life and is looser. Pffft!


The struggle continues...

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Two versions of the March wetcanvas watercolor challenge. And boy was it a challenge. One step forward and then two back.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire
250.00

11”x14”/16”x20” matted. One of my favorite places - Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Definitely on a roll today. A very complicated scene but with good bones. Very enjoyable and came out really well. Love the blues and oranges.

St John's College, Cambridge

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St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

When I’m in a bit of a painting funk like I have been for the past couple of months I find it easier to just pick a reference at random from my collection and just paint it. Every now and again I trawl through free-to-use photos, select a bunch that catch my eye and put them in a folder ready for situations like this.

So this is why I’m painting St John’s College, Cambridge. We lived in Cambridge for a number of years which was fab so this has a personal connection even though I didn’t actually take the photo. I love the intricate shadows on the lovely golden stone and also the way the building stretches horizontally across the canvas, leaving large areas above and below. But can I do it justice this time?

Anyway off we go.

Lately I’ve started doing digital notans of pictures. These are reducing an image to just black and white regions. Even more than a value study I find that if you can’t make a well-designed notan it’s highly unlikely to produce a good painting once you’ve got all the values and color in.

So this came out pretty well. The bushes and the left and right trees frame the building well. The shadows on the building also serve to create a good design. One thing I did change was to darken the roofs of the building. This framed the building and allowed some continuity between the left and right hand sides.

The drawing went well. I didn’t put in too much detail as it gets fussy but lightly marked where the windows and shadows went. The first washes I kept varied but warm with a little lavender dropped in here and there to cool things off and provide interest.

The next bit was the crucial bit. Putting in the shadows I had to be careful of keeping them dark but not so dark they look jarring. Too light everything looks wishy-washy. Too dark and it looks like you’ve gone over it with a sharpie.

the photo has actually darkened things up a bit here. The shadows were looking pretty good and had slight variations in color from warm to cool.

One other thing I finally remembered to do - work from left to right. As I’m right handed I’m constantly drawing or painting from right to left and messing things up as I go. Maybe I’ll put up a sign above my easel. Next to the one saying ‘tea is not painting water’.

So the final thing :

St John’s College, Cambridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

So this is the best result I’ve had in a while. The foreground and background were a bit nervewracking. You get one shot at these and I wanted to keep them smooth and not too fussy. Basically a deep breath and dive in with the brushes and stand back. This time I got away with it.

Happy day.


Prague

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It’s still a struggle closing the gap between vision and reality.  Keeping the palette very muted and the values as close together as I can.    I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Michele Clamp. Watercolor.  14x11”.

This was my previous attempt. 

 

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New England Street

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New England. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 12”x18”

This is a mystery scene as I was rooting about on pixabay.com for a New England street scene and this presented itself. This trundled along merrily although I can’t say I enjoyed it and the end result shows a lack of enthusiasm. But this isn’t the time to give up, at least for a while.

Some intermediates:

The drawing and initial washes. Maybe a bit tentative here but the final thing came out fairly punchy so all ended well.

After leaving things overnight I turned to the ipad and doodled a little on the photo. I find this helps identify the big shapes and allows me some practice before committing to paper. Watercolor really doesn’t allow you to do this so this is quite liberating.


Thinking back to my big shapes mantra the ipad doodling made me realize I should keep the big trees on the right dark and also darken up the roof of the tower on the left. Helps keep things together.

New England

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Not much to say about this. Going through a bit of a rough patch enthusiasm wise.

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Church of St Paul, Cambridge MA

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Church of St Paul, Cambridge MA. Michele Clamp watercolor. 10”x8”/16”x12” matted.

This is a view of St Paul’s church as you walk down Quincy St in Cambridge MA. I used to pass this weekly on my way to Central Square and the sight always made me happy. So of course I had to paint it. Came out nice and loose and I’m rather pleased.

I had meant this to be my entry into the next round of Post Road Art’s small works show. Stupidly I made it too big as the length + width can only be 25” and I’m at 18” without a mat or frame. The deadline is tomorrow and I have nothing else small enough left in the archives to enter. Nothing for it but to get up early and measure first before I paint.


Subtlety and Restraint

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Coming back to painting after a break is tricky. Normally when painting every day (or almost) . new ideas come quickly out of recent paintings. Sitting down at the easel cold after a couple of weeks away and there’s a period of indecision where you’re asking ‘So what shall I paint?’ Normally a quick bird can get the brushes flowing again but I did one yesterday and wasn’t feeling the pull today.

The outcome was a couple of quick(ish) sketches on cheap paper. The first came out a little garish so in the second I tried for more restraint in color and value but without making things insipid. I’m actually quite pleased and the cheap paper didn’t give me too much grief either.

French Villages - Disaster Edition

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I knew going in that this was going to be a stretch.   But I labored on and although it's by no means a success there are parts that came together.    The dark walls and ceiling have some ice rich color and texture and there's some subtlety in the shadow areas that I like.    But definitely an experiment for me.