Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Answers to your questions on "Moving Out"

Thanks, everybody for your interesting comments about the recent post “Moving Out.” It was a little experiment in form, combining a plein air study with fictional story. Sometimes I paint a house and think of it as a stage where a million private dramas are played out.


Tom, as far as the technical details, it’s in a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, so it’s about 5 x 7.5 inches. I started with a pencil drawing and laid in an ochre undertone for the sky. I was going to going to come back with a blue wash, but forgot to, and liked it better warm.

I laid some color down over the whole surface of the paper, saving out the shining tarp and the little bit of snow by the fence, which were the lightest notes. In some of the early passes, I floated the dark tones for the windows onto wet paper to let them bleed into the surrounding tone.

Even after the first pass, the house needed to be “dirtied up” to look old. The truck was an ultramarine blue underwash with a semi-opaque light red laid over.  The tree branches are mostly drybrushed, with branches added in pencil. Mario, some of the fine lines (clapboards and wires) are drawn in with a Caran d’Ache colored pencils.

The whole sketch took about an hour and a half. In the composite at the top of this post, I stuck a photo of the subject at the right so you can see how the camera saw things. The far semi tractor-trailer in the photo was in motion during the photo. And the pickup really did leave halfway through, so I had to rely on memory to finish it up. I did all the work on location; I almost never work on a study after returning home because I feel unplugged from the inspiration.

7 comments:

MrCachet said...

Thanks for reposting with the process! I don't sketch - but for composition...

Jesse said...

What a great sketch! Sometimes I forget you are an author too, but I sure remembered when I read your last blog post!

What I like about the sketch is it is both timeless and modern. I love the little touches of character, like the dish on the roof.

Tom Hart said...

Thanks so much, James, for such a great run down of the process. I love (among other things) how your composite photo shows how you edited out certain things, such as the van.

Steve said...

"...unplugged from the inspiration." Great phrase, and great little watercolor.

Thanks for the thorough recap of your method. Don't know if you want to say more about this piece, but I wondered about the rectangular area in the street, from the truck's front wheels forward. It seems to be a purposeful change in hue and temperature; from a cool gray under the rest of the truck -- and behind it -- to this warmer, yellower patch. Is it that the light in most of this area is completely unblocked by the truck?

Dalibor Dejanovic said...

Thank you James for posting details of your process. I love the "composite" picture, very nice way of showing your steps.

Mario said...

Thank you for explaining the process. It's good to add some very precise details with the pencil in an otherwise free and loose watercolor.

Michael Maloney said...

A magnificent art piece indeed! It incorporates many art techniques and we are able to see that the picture is trying to tell a story. Even though the pencil sketch is a simple touch, it does show a clear outline of the house and I have to applaud on your brush techniques used on the truck. Its storage cabin is very detailed, it almost looks like a real picture. A great and clever combination and an excellent artpiece!