Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bigger dark skies

We're not at the end of the line yet. Far from it, I sense.

Some people might call it an obsession. For me, it's simply that I'm trying to paint the best sky that I can. And I cannot stop until I reach that point.

This instalment is not it. I was distracted when I started painting the sky. Actually, I was chatting to my fellow painters, Rosanna and Margaret. And my painting did not forgive me this moment of inattention. Watercolours don't forgive. They demand that you give them all your attention, all that you've learned over the years, all your patience, all your preparation (paper has to be stretched, paints need to be ready, in the right quantity, at the right consistency), all your love. If they feel neglected, it will be pay-back time.

When that happens, I like to finish the painting anyway. It has to fulfil its destiny. And I have to learn from it. Sometimes, it's even an opportunity to experiment with techniques I would not risk on a painting that's going well.

Opinions are divided on this one: Some love its bold colours, its striking movement. I don't. I love the way the ultramarine paint granulated. I love the lampposts. But that sky is not what I saw.

Lessons learned:

  1. Pay attention, don't chat and paint
  2. Painting big presents bigger challenges - this painting was done on my largest watercolour block, roughly A3, i.e. double the size I normally paint on
  3. That transparent orange may be OK for stormy skies in exotic parts of the world. But raw sienna suits an Irish sky better
  4. When a wet-in-wet sky doesn't work out, don't try to fix it. No amount of lifting paint will make it right. Although, I could have lifted the whole sky and tried again - good paper can take a lot of abuse.
  5. Keep trying until it's right
  6. Also an option. Don't be afraid to crop the painting. Sometimes all they need is a different point of view. Like this maybe?:

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