Michele Clamp Art

Buildings

Sketch of a Victorian House, Hudson, MA

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Victorian House, Hudson, MA

I had a real stinker of a painting day earlier this week. I wanted to work up one of the Naval Shipyard scenes from our plein air session a couple of weeks ago. Failed so badly I’m too ashamed to post it. So it was back to the drawing board to work out what went wrong.

This was an attempt to work on capturing shadows on buildings in a more subtle way. I wanted to capture the effect of sunlight on the building - especially the roof areas that had just enough value change but no more. I’m fairly happy with this. I could maybe have gone a little darker in the shadow sides (or may be a little lighter on the sunlit sides) but it has a sense of strong sunlight which I like. I’ll probably revisit this and push it slightly to see what happens.



Redbones in Davis Square

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Redbone, Davis Square. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

Stylistically something different. Much tighter than usual and it gave me all sorts of trouble. I had one of those - ‘it’s ruined so I can’t make it any worse’ moments yesterday. But I soldiered on and it came together quite well.

James and I have spent many evenings in the basement of Redbones. Brisket and enormous beers - happy days.

Just one intermediate today: This was at the end of the first session and I was somewhat glum

Southend at Dusk

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Southend at dusk. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 13”x19”

I’ve been wanting to do a dusk painting for a while. I snapped this scene on my phone back in November. Even though it was raining and the shot was rainy and out of focus it caught something of that magical time where the sky has wonderful color and the buildings are muted and shadowy. Not perfect by any means but I’m pretty happy for a first shot.

Shelburne from the Flower Bridge

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Shelburne from the flower bridge. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

I’m getting behind with the blogs. There’s some stuff I need to put on that I’ve been procrastinating over but that can wait.

I painted this before. We’d visited Shelburne which is well worth a visit - especially for the flower bridge. This is a view from there which I’d always liked the composition of so why not give it another go?

As usual I’m in two minds about this. It was a bit of a struggle and I think the first version shown below was better. Darn.

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.