Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tough Task

This month's challenge from my friend Peter ( is a complicated image presenting a number of problems for the watercolour painter. However, it was just what I needed having been absorbed in preparation for the recent Art Fair. The opportunity to sit and think through what would be required to attempt this as well as as dust off the brushes.

The first thing to notice is the fact that the picture is shot against the light, rendering many of the important areas, like the face, in shadow. Secondly, the picture has great depth from front to back. Thirdly, there isn't a huge range of colours in the image.

Obviously, the key to a successful piece would be to ensure that the value range reflected the light conditions and give the impression of sunlight and shadow. Here the problem was getting sufficient depth of tone in the shadows and I found it very difficult to produce this in one pass.

Recession in pictures is always important and working from front to back with increasing amounts of pigment is a partial key to achieving this. With this picture there is a further complication in that the dried grass strip reads darker in tone that the paved area which can make for confusing aerial perspective issues.

Altering mixtures of pigment in fairly subtle ways was my solution to the colour issue, although I couldn't resist reducing the colour scheme of the seated character with his back to us in red and white stripes.

After all that I decided to do a little savage pruning of the vegetation and street furniture.

I'll leave my viewers to judge how far I've gone along the road of addressing the issues identified in my initial thoughts.

Photograph - Charles Reid at the easel

Charles Reid at the easel - Watercolour 16" x 12" on Rough paper