Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bantam River, White's Woods

Today is chilly and cloudy & not a particularly inviting day to be outside but since I unexpectedly had the morning off, I decided to do a few things around the house and then have lunch and an hour or so of painting on the banks of the Bantam River at one of my favorite locations.  I think that I would have done better if I’d gone out to paint this morning and saved the household tasks until noon but that’s a case of hindsight being better than foresight.

I’d planned a more leisurely approach to my lunch and painting but around the time I set out, the weather was changing and not for the better.  I’d planned an ‘order out’ sandwich from a local restaurant but decided, as I drove to Litchfield, to grab a fast $2 sandwich from C*mb*rl*nd F*rms instead of waiting around for 15-20 mins for a sandwich at a local deli.

It felt great to be at my spot but not comfortable.  To keep warm while sitting in my lawn chair I wore a hat, wool scarf, windbreaker over my jacket & warm pants and a blanket wrapped around me, too.  I did a quick thumbnail as I ate as well as talked to a guy who was driving by & stopped to see what I was doing.  I wasn’t comfortable with the guy, either, so kept working & hoped if I didn’t give him much attention that he’d go away.  Which he finally did.  He was kind of creepy in that he had a penetrating stare and asked a lot of questions to keep me engaged.  Of all the days to have forgotten my cell phone.

Because today isn’t the kind of day to be sitting outside for very long, this is a very small painting done on a 5 ½ x 7 ½ pc of Strathmore student grade  watercolor paper.  I started drawing my design on the paper with a Sharpie fine-point but gave that up after a few lines and painted in the rest.  The trees with color and the area in front of the trees I called my middle ground and did those first, starting with a light density layer of UB into which I worked the tree colors in slightly thicker mix of color.  After that, I did the background in medium density & very wet UB and then worked thicker color and tree shape into that.  I used a much lighter wash of the background color to do the reflection of the trees in the foreground and a lighter version of the tree color into the wet reflection.  Then I did the sky in a washy bluish-gray made of UB and BS.  I used a tint of Prussian Blue in the little area of blue in the sky and added in a stronger bit of UB near the top of that patch of blue, just to strengthen the blue a bit.  After that, I flipped the paper and did the blue sky reflected in the water nearest me.  The blue in the reflection was pure blue, medium density and graded out to wet and white near the bank of the river where I dropped-in a mere tint of CY.

For me today, the cat tails were an achievement.  I like the way I got the underneath layer to take on the shape of the bank and then, after it was relatively dry, with heavier, more colorful paint, did the foreground leaves & cat tails, then using a grayed-down & thinner mix of the foreground leaves I put in the receding (& smaller) leaves.  I did the cat tails pretty much the same way. I used a grayed-down and thin mix of the middle ground of the leaf/cat tail section to do the reflections of the leaves in the water.  I’ve done this scene countless times but it’s the first time I’ve gotten the cat tails in to my satisfaction.

I think it didn’t hurt to hurry and that by doing so, I automatically discarded everything that wasn’t important.  In thinking fast and working fast, I got a painting that looks fresh,  spontaneous and that I really like.


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