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Today, I want to take the same sketch that I posted previously and do some evaluation.
Although I am happy with the ideas and the overall impression, there is room for improvement.
I think that the house in the center should be bigger. Right now, the house, the porch, and the barn all occupy spaces about the same size on the page. Making the house bigger would give some variety in size. It would also put the chimney on the right overlapping the porch and eliminating the halo of sky that is there now.
When doing a final picture, I would spend more time on the dogwood flowers, giving them some shadows and more details. I wanted a darker background to help them stand out, but I couldn’t figure out how to transition between the background and the sky. Next time, I would make the edge of the dark background shape to look like more blossoms, leaves, and branches.
The pig in front on the left has his head in the grass, but this didn’t come out at clearly as I had planned.
The barn should have some hay bales and farm equipment. Right now it is too neat.
The color washes for the sky and the grass are blotchy since I started this in pen and ink on sketchbook paper and decided to add the color directly on the sketch. Putting the final picture on watercolor paper would allow me more control in these areas.
I am wondering if there are other areas which should be addressed. You, my readers, have been very kind and supportive in your comments and I now welcome your suggestions as to other improvements that can be made.
One of my goals in creating art in watercolor is to make images which elicit a response from the viewer. Here is one of the positive reactions that I’ve gotten this week.
I’ve been posting about a picture of Western View that friends have commissioned me to do. I’ve sent them the sketches that I wrote about last week, a regular “house portrait” and an evening view with the lights on in the porch area. Then I attempted a composite picture of the house and some other scenes on the property.
To my great delight, I was immediately greeted with several stories: tales of taking care of the pigs every summer while in high school, about loading hay into the top of the barn, and riding the tractor.
The current Western View doesn’t look like these pictures. Some trees are gone, as is the windmill. A couple of the chimneys fell down in the earthquake last summer. And I’ve been asked to replace some of the shutters on the house and trim the boxwood hedges.
Whether they choose this as the final image or not, I am thrilled that this brought back memories and is a picture that made a connection with the viewers.
I find that it helps to have more than one project going at a time. It means I can work on another one while paint is drying on the first. So, today I also did another sketch of Western View, this time showing part of the north side of the house. Again, I put the sun first on one side and then the other. One of them is an impossible direction, coming from the northeast, but I’m the artist and I can make it happen!
Finally! My studio is under control again and I can work in there without feeling like the rubble is going to take over.
So I moved the sun today. Several times. I sketched Western View with sun shining on it from the east and then the west… in springtime. So I guess I moved the earth too. Anyway, I needed to see how the values would play out with light coming from different angles and falling on the shapes of the house.
As you look at the house you may wonder about the name Western View. The front of the house originally faced west. As you look at the photo from the previous post, and as you view these sketches, the western side would be the side that faces to the right of the image – actually not visible. But over time and with additions to the structure, the main entrance was moved to the north side, which is the full-on view that you see.
The above photo shows sun on the eastern side of the house (it must be morning!). I placed the darker values on the north-facing sides, and the bright value on the eastern side.
Now you can see the shadows (darker values) on the eastern side, with brighter values on the front (north side) of the house. I guess the sun is actually shining from the north-west.
Please pardon the wrinkly 20# bond that I use for value studies. It’s just a work sheet, so I don’t use fancy paper.
I though I would also include a few photos of the newly cleaned studio (I’m so proud of my cleaning!). You can see my work areas: granite-topped work table, and adjustable drafting board You can also see the photo studio arranged against the wall with lights in place facing a white background.
Today marked the end of Christmas break for our son, and we drove him back to school. Its about three hours to Staunton, Virginia where he studies, and it’s an all-day affair to go there and come back.
We included business on the return trip. One of my husband’s colleagues commissioned a painting of his ancestral home in Culpeper, Virginia. His great-grandfather bought the house in 1870 and it has been in the family ever since. Alas, the property is to be sold, as a house this old and big is prohibitively expensive to keep for sentimental reasons alone. However, the memories are to be preserved and this painting will provide a link to those great summer-long visits to the working family farm. Childhood and teen years, early adult working years – the painting will include favorite trees now gone, and the wind-driven well pump no longer to be seen on the left side, though the concrete foundation is still there. Through drawing and painting, these visual memories are restored.
So the wind blew and temperatures were in the 30s, but it was a beautiful day and the country in central Virginia is so lovely, even in winter. If it’s this pretty now, think how wonderful a place to spend summers!