I captured this scene cycling on the Sammammish River trail. It was very cold and the sun was just beginning to penetrate the cold air. The sun cast these long dark reflections over the water surface that was washed in a soft orange hue, perfect to inspire a painting. I continue to be drawn to reflections on water. The more I study, the more intriguing they become.
Watercolor “Henry Covered Bridge” over Mingo Creek in Pennsylvania. This bridge is 12’ x 36’ built in 1881 and was used by militia as a meeting place in the 1890’s. As I studied this scene, the trees seemed to have arms covered in white bark that were illuminated by the sun. They appear as if moving and entangled amongst the deep shadows of the foliage.
Watercolor “Setting sun on a Florence street” 14” x 22”. It is always a challenge to get light to beam off of the paper, but as the painting developed as planned, the intensity of the glare came to life. I keep tackling more difficult scenes and subjects. When I am about 50% complete, I often wonder if the painting will end as I planned. Watercolor does not erase very well! This is one on my favorite paintings. The challenge of capturing the light was gratifying.
Watercolor of the famous “Duomo from via del L’Orivolo” in Florence, Italy. This watercolor is 12” x 22” on Arches rough paper. As an Architect, Florence is one of the most architecturally rich cities of the world. After cycling in the Italian countryside, I would wonder in the squares and down the narrow streets in search of my watercolor inspiration! They were easy to find and so rich with detail, color and shadow. Sunlight pierces down the narrow side-roads and washed the Duomo in afternoon light for this painting.
“Silhouettes dancing on the Maasai Mara”. The sun, clouds and smoke from a fire on the Maasai plains provided my inspiration for this painting. The silhouette of the trees appear as a migrating grove of trees on the horizon in Kenya. This watercolor is 14” x 22” on Arches rough paper.
The markets in Cabayao, Philippines extend to the street complete with umbrellas to provide protection from the daily thunderstorms. I wanted to capture the contrast of the bright colored umbrellas against the dark market background. This watercolor is 11″ x 18″ on Arches rough paper.
Watercolor “Acacia on the Maasai Mara plain” 16” x 22”. This painting captures the grandeur and graceful structure of the iconic Acacia tree that seems to claim its space in the short grass of the plain. These few closeup photos show the watercolor pigments mixing while retaining their transparency. Getting the pigment to do this is always a challenge that must be completed quickly before the paper drys at all. Transparency is unique to watercolor, but can easily turn to mud if not done properly.
This is one of the largest public plazas in the world. I spent many hours sketching and taking in the features and architecture that makes this space so wonderful. Narrow streets connect to the piazza at five locations with restaurants of all kinds surrounding the perimeter. The painting is 16” x 22” on Arches rough. This painting makes me long to be there again with my sketch paper and brush. That will have to wait until next year.
“Ponte Vecchio” in Florence, Italy 22” x 16” on Arches not (cold press) 140# paper. This is a bridge over the Arno River built in 1345 for the Medici family. I photographed this in the early morning with clear reflections in the smooth river surface before continuing on my cycling tour of Tuscany. I used a sketch 11” x 14” to start my 16” x 22” watercolor. A few hours of work sketching and study to see if I can capture this moment in watercolor pigments. I have about 6 paintings of this bridge to do in this series. While a photograph is good, a watercolor has more emotion and I have the opportunity to interpret what I saw and experienced so that you can get a glimpse into my mind and artist’s eye.
This was a difficult subject with lots of detail and complex water reflections. But it is exactly those water reflections that provided the unique view. The morning sun brought great contrast and color intensity that was washed out as the sun angle rose during the day.
This series of photographs shows the development of the watercolor. Watercolor is painted “backwards” from what you would expect. Unlike opaque mediums, like oil paint, watercolor is a transparent medium. “Mistakes” are hard to hide, so they need to be turned into features by the cleaver work of the artist. Come and visit my gallery and I can show you how I turned watercolor disaster into a delight! The light goes through the pigment to the paper surface, and bounces back with light waves colored by the watercolor pigments. It is this transparency that gives watercolors it unique quality. But it also requires that the pigments be transparent and not muddy.
I hope you enjoy viewing this watercolor as much as I did painting it this week.