I just finished this study for a nocturnal watercolor inspired by a solstice moonrise I watched from the chateau in France last month. A broad horizon, unencumbered by tall buildings was a perfect vantage point to watch the moon rise from the distant hills in Provence. The chateau sits on a hilltop, overlooking the valley, and it whispers details of history to you from fire scars on her 14th century stonework, and windows shaped perfectly by stonemasons to accommodate a bow and arrow taking aim at approaching intruders.
Painting nocturnes is challenging, and I think painting them in watercolor is particularly tricky. Taking the pigments dark enough to communicate dusk or night time, but keeping little points of light from distant buildings requires painting around the paper to preserve those whites, or using frisket or masking film. I painted around the light, and used a wax candle resist in a few areas.
After the watercolor dried, I added pastel to increase contrast, saturation and textures. But I still missed the mark of what I had in mind by a wide margin, so I’m starting again today, this time on Yupo paper so there’s no need to paint around lights. The next version of this painting should be looser, less noodled in details, and more colorful, more confident, and closer to what I see in my mind – assuming I’ve left my mistakes on the study. 🙂
When you struggle with a painting till you’ve exhausted every fix known to mankind, do you toss it in the Lessons heap, and start over, or do you try to beat the pigments into submission? Sometimes, AH-HAH! moments slap me in the forehead, and I realize I’m sweating to save a piece because of the time I’ve put into it. Stacking more time to preserve the already-spent time? Duhh. That’s a futility-sandwich. The first pass was a lesson! That was an opportunity to leave my mistakes on the study (Yes, just re-title it “study” and Ta-Dah!, you’re free to move about the studio & start over.) Deep breath – my time was well-spent, after all! I can start fresh and confident on the next version of that painting, as long as I do it right away, when those lessons are still zippity-doo-dah fresh in my art-making brain.
So, I’m off to get it done. Hopefully, I’ll be sharing the results in the next post. Wish me luck!
Happy painting to you today. Thanks for stopping by! (If you’d like to get these posts via email as they’re published, you can subscribe here.)
Vision, Uncertainty, and Knowledge of Materials are inevitabilities that all artists must acknowledge and learn from: vision is always ahead of execution, knowledge of materials is your contact with reality, and uncertainty is a virtue.