Day 7 of 30 in 30 – St Mary’s Church, Cambridge MA

Phew this is getting intense. Maybe something a little simpler tomorrow. It’s hard to assess the results when you’re in the midst of this challenge so I’ll just carry on and take a breather at the end. Pretty happy although I rushed to finish. (Edit: It looks a little wonky as my photo is slightly off)

A couple of intermediates

Day 2 of 30 – Memorial Church, Harvard Yard

Memorial Church, Harvard Yard. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 14”x11”

First (actually second) up in the big ‘painting a day’ series is a Harvard Yard scene. I used to often catch a glimpse of the church through the buildings and always liked the way the light fell. I’ve done a closer view of this but never managed to capture the wider scene. Pretty happy with this one but I don’t think I’ve finished with this view yet.

A couple of intermediate shots:

Cambridge MA Finished

Cambridge MA. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”


Cambridge Street, MA


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Finally finished this one and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Just enough looseness to give it life but precision where it needs it.

And here it is on my new hanging wall. This is my pride and joy right now. I used to put things on shelves in my old studio but everything got really cluttered very quickly. Now I can hang things immediately so I can see how they look.


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 :


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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 :


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

Sigh.

Cambridge in Fall

Cambridge in Fall. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 19”x14”

This year is the year of entering into shows. I’ve got 3 submissions in already and one has already been accepted. The deadline for the New England Watercolor Society was today and I’ve been procrastinating. Part of the reason is that this is one of the more prestigious shows and I’ve been in two minds about submitting anything. I’ve also been undecided as to what kind of picture to submit. Having visited some shows over the past 6 months the pieces that get accepted have a certain ‘showiness’ to them. This isn’t something that comes easy to me as I either prefer the quiet subtle scenes or the very loose moment in time scenes. But in the end I plumped for this scene of Mt Auburn St in Cambridge. I’ve had a few goes at this before with varying results but have never quite nailed it.

This one is almost there and I bit the bullet and submitted. We will see how it does.

Mt Auburn St, Cambridge – Take 2

Mt Auburn St, Cambridge MA. Michele Clamp. Watercolor on Yup 12”x9”

I was quite pleased with the first version of this but then I had a crazy idea of trying a second version on Yupo paper. This is a synthetic paper which doesn’t absorb paint or water which means the paint behaves in a completely different way to cotton paper.

I had a blast with this and, due to the non absorbent nature of the surface. the colors remain bright and vivid. There were regions where the paint just didn’t stick at all – see on the left – but it was definitely worthwhile having a go.

I had a final experiment on hot press paper (4th in the collage). I don’t think I’m done with this scene yet but I’ll take a break for now.