Yesterday we set up our folding stools at the top of Scart Road looking down into Bantry, Ireland. Occasional sprinkles of rain and gusts of wind gave us some trouble: At one point the wind knocked over my water cup and dumped three ounces of water all over the half-finished watercolor.
The thing I found the most challenging was the perspective drawing. Here’s the scene as it looked to the camera. I knew all those buildings have different vanishing points from each other. And the road has its own set of vanishing points below eye level. And I expected I would be tricked by those building fronts, which were extremely foreshortened.
But even knowing all that, I still had to erase and redraw the pencil drawing three times until I was convinced I had it right.
Here’s how the line drawing looked after about three hours of measuring, erasing, and redrawing. I used a regular #2 pencil and I didn’t use straightedges. I tried to pin down some measurements using the central pole as a fixed unit of length.
Just to remind myself how much I need to improve, here’s the line drawing superimposed over the photo, after the fact. I made the yellow building on the right too big, and misplaced the windows and doors on the gray building on the far left. What would have cured a lot of these errors would be to measure across the scene, holding up a level pencil in front of me to judge relative heights—and I’ll do that next time.
Here’s the final painting, after two sittings on location, and about five hours work. I did make a few conscious changes, such as eliminating the wires, and raising the value of the illuminated roof on the red building in the middle distance.
And I regrettably left out of the drawing the wonderful people of Bantry, who passed by with a friendly hello while we were working—especially Brendy, who lives in the house at the far left.
“I like to say hi to me neighbors,” he said to us. “Me neighbors is mankind of every description.”