Friday, June 20, 2014

Sycamore House

A friend at work commissioned a painting after seeing and admiring Mistletoe House.  It surprised me to realize it's been over six years since I painted Mistletoe House.

He inspired me with a photo of a painting his father had done at age 8, of a mill with a tall house and a tall mill wheel above a pond with a duck (Donald) floating upon it.  It was impressive and expressive for an eight year old and evocative for my friend.

While on vacation at Black Mountain recently this watercolor seemed to emerge from the page.  I started with a lot of random blind contour lines from interesting photos, as I usually do, and this was the result after I cleaned up and dreamed over it.  Most of my watercolors leave more to chance or to work out during the painting, but this composition was almost completely decided with the drawing.

Here is the painting partially completed.  I tend to go yellow first, and then lay in a first few layers of glaze moving around the painting as I realize what colors different areas should be.  That phase is like doing a puzzle, sometimes I can only see one step I understand, and I don't see the next one until I complete that one.  Then it feels like painting in fog, where I can only see a few feet in front of me.  Sometimes the work follows more conventional methods and I work up the whole surface from light to dark.  Other times I block in all of the darks to get the overall composition and then I work color over the light and dark.

Regardless of the start, most paintings finish the same way, working the composition and emphasis, making fewer and fewer decisions until there isn't anything left that seems to need or want doing.  While there was no duck in my mill painting, there were the usual fish.

19 x 19 watercolor on Arches 140 lb hot press paper.  Sold.

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