One of the things that strikes me about watercolor artists I admire is their use of richly contrasting values. Some watercolors look “faded” to my eyes, and I find more appeal in strong contrast between bright, sunlit scenery with rich shadows and layered darks. It’s easy to “color” a painting, but making it successful will hinge on whether you’ve nailed the values of the scene: lights and darks and mid-ranges are key to making a painting sing. It takes practice, but practice requires more painting time, and that sounds like a lovely remedy!
The first image in this sequence (above) shows “Roses & Cast Iron Birdbath” (25 x 20) drawn in pencil, and loosely painted with a range of colors I was aiming for in the final painting.
In the next shot, the painting is starting to take shape with strategic areas of focus and detail: the roses and the green glass vase they’re in are back lit by late afternoon sun, and I wanted to make that the target of visual “destination”.
The last image shows the final painting, with the kitchen counter tiles darkened; they’re still reflecting the center of focus above them, and the reflected lights & darks move your eyes to the roses without stealing the show.
By squinting at my reference photo (seen in the upper right corner of my table above) and then squinting at my painting in process, I went back to lights, darks & mid-range values over and over again. I had great fun with color, but I tried to stay true to the value of each color – the way our eyes see it when afternoon light bounces off glass, tiles and roses.