Saturday, November 29, 2008

Study of San Pedro Chapel, Tucson

What do you do when you only have forty-five minutes to paint plein air? No, the answer is not always "don't post it." Why, it's, "Use a big brush, don't sweat the small stuff, and call it a 'study,'" of course. It's not very successful, but it gives an impression of foreground growth, building and sky. Sometimes, trouble can be instructive.

Lessons learned — which is sunnier than 'post mortem', no?

  1. It was a cool, humid day, and I learned that watercolor, in other climates than the desert, must behave in remarkably different ways — like, you can do wet-in-wet painting for the longest time. Like, a completely different medium long time.
  2. I did 'stretch' my greens pretty well, showing a decent range and variety, but the bush to the right of the chapel doesn't work as light and shadow. The dark spots come forward, like ornaments on a tree. Reworking may be in order.
  3. Lifting and glazing after the fact on the face of the chapel had an interesting effect on the richness of the surface. Like it. I can see a whole new approach coming out of that alone. Thanks, Melinda, for the suggestion and the trained eye.
  4. Thought the blue sky did pretty well, but I really need to work on making my clouds float a little better — they just doesn't have any dimension or mass.
  5. Diagonals in the composition... semi-successful.
  6. Don't leave home without my mixing squares.


Barbara Muir said...

Hi Edgar,

I love the watery, painterly quality of this painting. It isn't important what it's supposed to be, or supposed to look like -- what's important is what it does. What it does is it appeals. It says lush, wet, gorgeous painting.

Take care,


Marian Fortunati said...

I love to learn and the lessons learned are interesting.... even if watercolor isn't my medium. It would be nice to attempt it.

Edgar said...

Barbara — as always, thanks for the grace and generosity. I realize that the painting will now stand alone, regardless of my thoughts about it (unless I rework it or tear it up, I suppose). But for my internal journey, this painting is just a landmark on the way; so it's useful to review where I've been, to see if it's getting me where I'm going.

Marian — jump right in, the water's fine... And even more, 'studies' are very forgiving, so there's no pressure.

Anonymous said...

'post-mortem' would have been very funny. But, you're right, 'lessons learned' is much more appropriate to this post.

There's a funny line about clouds in the movie Local Color. The tactless russian artist tells his student that his clouds look like "flying rocks".

I think your painting is lovely, especially the clouds! They definitely float!

Edgar said...

Silvina -- so great of you to stop by. At my last job, we'd try to have "lessons learned" sessions after we had any big event, but someone inevitably referred to it as 'post mortem,' and then we'd all be a little creeped out, as though we'd done something wrong, which wasn't the point. "Forensics" was another one to avoid.

Thanks for the vote in favor of the flying rocks -- I mean, clouds. You story made me smile, because my watercolor teacher made us practice clouds (it was really a color mixing problem) until our clouds "floated." Same implication, only my teacher was not tactless but instead, in the execrable phrasing of our glorious president, a "half-glass-full kind of guy": if you were successful, then your clouds would float. If not, then...