Monday, April 30, 2012

Self Evaluation

Sorry for the interlude between my last post and this one.  Between severe storms and fighting an invasion of raccoons, I have been Sleepless in St. Louis.

After completing any painting, I go through a mental checklist of the elements and principles. 
In this painting I am satisfied with several things and disappointed with others.

Things I am satisfied with:   1. Contrast.  The darkest values are placed next to the lightest values in the focal area creating interest.   2.  Color:  Mostly neutrals, creating unity.  3.  Shapes.  The buildings interlock with the background trees.

Things that need improvement:  1.  Shapes  The sky shape, the beach shape, and the village are are all approximately the same size.  In the sketch I lessened the shape of the sky, so the buildings and the beach were more dominant.  2. Color. I would like more vivid colors to conform to the direction my work has been taking lately.  3.  Line/Direction :  Horizontals were a bit too dominant.  I need some vertical, perhaps overlapping to give relief to the horizontals.

Once you finish a painting, you need a way of evaluating it that isn't as vague as "I like it"  or "I'm not sure I like it."  The checklist of elements and principles will give you that evaluation tool.

Monday, April 23, 2012


More and more, I've become convinced that a value sketch is an important preliminary to the painting of a successful watercolor.  Here's a sketch of Popham Beach, Maine, that I plan to paint tomorrow. 

If you want, paint your own version of this sketch.  I will try to post some of them as soon as I finish painting my own version!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Going Vertical

 I often forget to think like  a decorator.  And one format that painters tend to forget is the vertical.  Verticals emphasize the height of a room or fill a small wall space where a horizontal would be squeezed.

As a landscape painter, it is not always easy to design a vertical composition.  But if you look for tall subjects within a landscape, you can narrow the scope of your painting.  Case in point:  a waterfall!

Also notice the "S" curve formed by the light shapes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Here's one more sketch.  This scene has been painted so often by local painters in Boothbay that it's referred to as Motif #1.

An often touted rule in painting and drawing is to use an odd number of objects (3, 5, 7) rather than an even number.  This is probably because an even number might create a balance that is too symmetrical, i.e., two on one side and two on the other.  Just remember that one side or section of your composition has to "win".  If both sides are equal, there will be no clear focal point. 

You can either see this composition as five buildings or three.The three buildings in the center are grouped as two against one.  The hints of the other two buildings make it three on one side and two on the other.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Back to the Basics

Sometimes when I'm at a loss about what to paint next, I get out my sketchbook and do what I first did when I started my art journey so many years ago.  Drawing and sketching can reintroduce me to the joy of expressing myself with the strokes of a pencil.  Nothing fancy...a #2H and a #2B.  These days I'm more interested in finding values than I was when I was younger and concerned with outlines. Values rather than lines define the edges of things.  Keeping the strokes short and staccato also makes them more interesting.
Here's a scene I can draw in my sleep:  Ram Island Lighthouse off Ocean Point in Boothbay Harbor.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Here's a link to the St. Louis Watercolor Society's video of Stephen Quiller commenting on the winning paintings in their annual exhibition, including mine.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last of a series

This is the last of the beach shack series for a while.  The search for a new subject is not easy. It feels like looking for visual candy when all I see are visual vegetables.  I'll keep you posted.