Vermont Town – Value Studies

Vermont Town Value Study. Michele Clamp. Watercolor

After the Marlborough at dusk struggle to a triumph I’m spurred on to another New England street scenes. I really enjoy these but they are hard to design and hard to paint. When they come off though they make really good paintings (IMO of course). Today was value study and color study day. Here is the photo reference:

This is from a visit a few years ago and the strong light and tower caught my eye but, as you can see it’s not an obvious choice for a painting. But if we can make a decent value sketch out of it we may have a chance.

First was some noodling on the ipad. I find this great for trying out ideas. You can work in a small range of values and add new layers if you want to try something out. If it doesn’t work just delete the layer. So what did we find?

Yeah I think there’s something there. I added in some of the buildings on the right hand side to give some balance to the left. I also ruthlessly pushed those dark trees to a lighter value both to push them back and to provide some contrast with the foreground tower and car. The thing I like the most is the pattern of light off the roofs and the car which I need to remember to retain in the final painting.

Ok so far so good – onto some paint value studies. Pretty small with minimal drawing and trying to keep to around 4 values throughout the whole thing.

This is the same sketch at different stages. I was in two minds whether to include the dormer window on the left hand roof so took a photo half way through. I’ve compressed the scene widthways a little so things aren’t too stretched out and made the central car a little more prominent. I think we’re still looking good.

Finally I tried out a very rough color sketch. This was just to try out some colors as the photo colors are not very inspiring but I still want to retain a sense of the hard sunlight.

This is teeny – around 2”x4” but I wanted to see if a blue sky would work with some rich browns for the buildings. I’m still in two minds but it looks promising.

Next time – onto a big version!

Marlborough Main Street at Dusk

Marlborough Main Street at Dusk. Michele Clamp. Watercolor on paper. 14”X16”

Well that was a huge saga. I’m just going to leave this one here for now but the struggle to get to this point was filled with disaster and frustration. But I got there in the end and I’m very happy.

Day 10 of 30 in 30 – Dundee Disaster

Well the luck had to run out some time and this will remain unfinished and in the reject pile. I was mostly interested in the light on the buildings and wanted to keep the color muted. Neither of those things really worked out. The light doesn’t pop and the color is just drab. I’d like to do the scene justice at some point so it will remain in the to do pile.

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.