Lake Bled

Lake Bled. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

This painting lark never gets easier. This is a scene I’ve painted before and I thought would be a walk in the park. I was wrong. Very tough.

My usual method now starts with careful color matching. Makes a huge difference in getting the values right.


And here for comparison is my version from 2 years ago.


IMG_6170.jpg

Venice Value Studies and Painting


IMG_1316.JPG

Today started with a couple of value studies of Venice scenes. Went in first with the mid values and simplified the shapes as much as possible. I was first intending to do the first one as a full painting but in the end plumped for the second one.

It was a trial. I simplified things further by doing the whole thing in grayscale to avoid getting distracted by color and was very glad I did.

First the drawing. Sketchier than I would usually do but took care to keep the verticals and horizontals as they should be.


IMG_1312.jpg


Next the mid values in large shapes. I was getting a little discouraged at this point. The main buildings weren’t hanging together as well as I’d like and disaster was looming. However, I ploughed on and after the darks and some lighter value detail on the building I grabbed it back from the jaws of defeat.


Not one of my best but not too bad either. A little too sketchy in places but maybe worth another go.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

What a fun painting to do! Enjoyed all of this and I had the video cameras going too so it will up on youtube in the near future. A lot of careful color mixing which paid off and some nice splattering and wet iin wet color mixing in the castle walls. Very happy with this.

Here is the first part of the video – the planning, color matching and drawing stages.

And here’s the second part – the actual painting.

Harvard Yard and More Frustration

I’ve been doing these mini copy paintings and they’ve been coming out pretty well on the whole. However, all I really seem to be learning is how to copy better which isn’t really the point. This was driven home today when I tried another go (actually 8 goes) at this Harvard Yard scene.



I had a go at this last year – this was the result


Now it’s not that bad I suppose but it’s a little too literal, the colors don’t mesh, and I just wasn’t happy with it. Time to have another go.

This was my first shot. I tried to apply what I thought I’d learned – simplification, identify the big shapes, only one region of detail, expand the foreground, and keep the colors muted. It didn’t go well.


I’ve zoomed in more on the scen to simplify the shapes and tried to keep the colors within a more limited range. It’s ok but still not what I was after.

Maybe the building has too much contrast – let’s glaze over it and see :


No that’s not the problem although I think it does hang together a little better.

Next I went back to my mini painting idea – 4 little paintings to try and work out the composition and values a little better. All of these were done without drawing and the first two were done upside down to see if I could trick myself into focusing on what I really liked.


What I took from this is that the foreground shadow really makes a difference here. Also that the value changes in the building should be really subtle. Let’s have another go :


Well that really didn’t go well. Very frustrated at this point. In the evening I ended up noodling on the ipad and did a notan of the scene to see what would happen. Here it is :


IMG_1763.jpg

Now this looks pretty cool. One thing I did change was to lighten the value of the closest building which I think works ok. Time to have a final try :


IMG_1766.jpg

I also kept the red really muted here but I’m still not happy. Maybe it’s just not going to happen.

Sigh.

The Ugly Stage – Marblehead at Sunset

Marblehead at Sunset.

Another big painting today but this one is much more detailed. Right now it’s at the ugly stage and I’m unhappy with a lot of it but will keep the faith and soldier on tomorrow.

As before I did some color swatches. I wasn’t quite so happy with the palette this time but didn’t want to diverge from the reference too much. We’ll see if it all works out.


And a couple of intermediate shots.

Vermont Farm


Fancied doing something big today. This is 16”x20” which doesn’t sound much bigger than my usual 11”x14 but is just over twice the number of square inches. Amongst other things it means you have some more elbow room in the large areas and you have to take care to make them interesting.

One thing I did for this piece is a sheet of munsell swatches. I went through the reference, identified the major value shapes and colors and mixed up swatches as close as I could. Here’s the result :


IMG_0059.jpg

I think you can agree this resulted in a really nice color palette. I will certainly be doing this again.