Monday, January 31, 2011

On A Street In The Town

On A Street In The Town (7x7 soft pastel)

This is a second painting I did for the January Virtual Paintout hosted by Bill Guffey. This month he sent us all to Boston, Mass.

I just watched the movie The Town a couple of days ago so I went to The Town, Charlestown, in Boston and was blown away by the houses there. The architecture is so simple and old fashioned and the colours of the houses were delightful.

I chose this house in Charlestown as my subject. What first caught my eye was the blue colour of the house and the bright yellow flowers in the window boxes. And the flowers on the steps were such a sweet touch. The way the light played in the stoop and along the siding of the house and on the sidewalk clinched it for me. This was the scene I wanted to paint.

I struggle with the city scapes in the Virtual Paintout. I struggle with landscapes too. I want to include too much it seems. The odd angles of the streets themselves bother me as well as the inability to get back and see the entire buidling. Which isn't how you see in real life anyways but I realised that this was my problem and I needed to learn to choose what I was going to paint more critically. To think more critically about my composition.

What got me going on this composition was an article in The Pastel Journal about James Kimak who loves to paint scenes of New York. He embraces the streets and odd angles and in some of his paintings he focuses on just one door and step or only a part of a building. It was like a light went off for me.

I went back and found my chosen address and drew a line drawing sketch of it being very cognisant of where I wanted the edges of the painting to be.

Then I just painted! I focused on trying to keep it simple and stepping back to look at what I'd done so I didn't overwork it, trying to get the lights and darks right. I wish it was a bit lighter between the two houses but...

I've also been trying to focus on having crisp edges in the focal area and being a bit freer and looser with the edges in the rest of the painting. That is the trick with working from a photo... everything is in sharp focus most of the time and it means you lose depth and if you paint everything with that much detail it seems to look wrong. I want to paint painterly and not photrealistically.

I have been paying attention lately to what makes depth when I look at things and that slightly out of focus look of everything except what is the center of your attention makes the world 3D. For me anyways. There was an excellent article/demo in the month's issue of American Drawing that really brings that out. So I have been trying to focus on painting that way as well. I hope I managed that with this paining and the one I did before it.

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