The large sheet of Arches watercolor paper is calling out to me. I am going to be working on that this morning. Excited to try out the images that are bouncing around in my head.
Audacity. Isn’t that what living is all about? Do it. Be audacious.
Street lamps, sunshine and old buildings make a feast for my eyes. I have wanted to experience this place and have the audacity to paint it. Renoir painted it from a cafe window in the spring of 1872. He sent his brother out to talk with the people in the street to make them stand still for his painting. Monet sat at the same cafe window in the fall of the same year and painted his version.
One hundred and forty one years later, my brother and I walk across the oldest bridge in Paris, Pont Neuf. My first day in Paris. We ate crepes and headed for the Seine. I was oblivious to the people, totally immersed in the sensation of walking on the stone in the shadow of tall street lamps.
My first painting gathered the facts of what I saw but lacked the feeling. How to capture the sensation of actually being on that ancient bridge?
I started again with a bigger brush and larger sheet of Arches watercolor paper.
Swashes of color for the sky. Very wide sidewalk. I hint at the shapes of buildings whispering secrets. Street lamps march to the horizon. I paint the woman walking toward me, but no, she became me and I turn her around. I’m a transparent orange silhouette immersed in my own experience. The world is a kaleidoscope of orange sunshine and blue shadows.
This is what Pont Neuf feels like to me on my first day in the city of light.
Brilliant orange and full of possibilities.
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It’s four below zero at my studio. Seems like a good time to be painting an ocean sunset. i’ve been cooking on some painting ideas from what I saw a few weeks ago in Florida. I love sunsets and watching the sun set on the ocean is a wonderful treat. I’ve got photos and images that have been bouncing around in my head. I put on some loud music, wearing several layers of clothes to keep warm and think warm, warm sun, warm ocean.
I’m working on a larger sheet today and a bigger brush. 18″ x 24″ paper and a 14″ Kolinsky sable brush.
Opened up a new Arches paper block. It feels so good to open a new watercolor block. Arches paper is one of the best. I sliced the black sheet off the top with a knife and put it in the drawer to save for my granddaughter. I think she might like to make something out of that beautiful black sheet of paper.
My palette of paint has been soaking up water that i sprayed on fifteen minutes ago. It’s getting nice and gooey. Pulled out my favorite brushes. I won’t talk about how much I spent on these brushes. It’s best to not think about that. Better not to think about the cost of the paper or even the paints at this point. Buy the very best quality. It makes a huge difference. The best quality supplies make it easier to paint well and makes your final painting more permanent and a better investment for your collectors. Invest in quality supplies.
Did a faint pencil drawing of what I thought I might want to do. Worked and thought about the composition and how I was going to use the color. It is very important to not paint the colors and values that you see in the photos. The camera gives you a flat cyclops view of distorted color. It will never have the life or beauty of the real scene. Our eyes are amazing and they capture nuances that the camera can’t see. So, you have to interpret the photos, rely more on the images in your head, your sketches and be very very careful of those photos. Be aware of surprises that appear in the paint on your paper.
I decided on the placement of the sun by thinking about the thirds of the painting. Be aware of the rule of thirds. Divide the paper in 1/3’s vertically and horizontally. It is a good idea to put your center of interest where the lines intersect. It’s a good starting point and you can adjust from there. Pushing it a bit farther in one direction or another adds a bit of ‘stress’ and drama. I do my thinking at this point but when i pull out the brush and load it with color, I try to stop thinking and focus on play and have fun with the pigment exploding into each other, wet areas and dry areas. If I am too careful, that carries through and it isn’t as much fun to look at the painting. Be brave and paint wildly!
Another important thing is to stop before you overwork it! When you think you might have something. Stop, take and break and let it dry. You should start a different painting of the same thing, try and be even more wild the second time and try out some things that you didn’t on the first round. You can move faster the second time.