Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Palatine Farmstead

Last Sunday I did a plein-air painting/drawing of the Palatine Farmstead, a historic home in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

The house dates back to about 1770. It’s one of the last surviving buildings from the Palatine German settlers, who came to the region after being uprooted by the Thirty Year’s War and lured to the New World by the British crown.

Until about a decade ago, a very old woman lived in the house with no plumbing or electricity. After her death, the house was donated to a historical society. A careful restoration project is underway to repair the damage from water, fire, rot, and bees. The back of the house, shown in this view, had to be almost totally reconstructed.

I wanted to do a present-day view with a retrospective flavor, so I turned to a monochrome treatment, using sepia watercolor and water-soluble colored pencils. It is 6 x 9.5 inches (15x 24 cm) on a large size (about 8 x 11") Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

After drawing the lay-in with pencil, I covered the whole surface with a light wash of tone, leaving only the sunlit white planes of the house on the left. Then I drybrushed and detailed as much as I could with sable brushes, switching over to the colored pencil for the finer lines.

Here’s a closeup showing how the pencil and the watercolor combine to describe details like the chipping paint, the clapboards, the shutters, and the branches.

Photos of the house and restoration.
Moleskine sketchbooks


Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

Boy, that's nice.

MrCachet said...

I really like your 'mixed media' approach with this one.

Steve said...

I love the feel of these all sepia images.

Sometime I'd like to watch your version of "drybrush" technique. This past week I had the opportunity to see several Andrew Wyeth paintings that were here in Michigan and, of course, some were listed as "watercolor" while others were called "drybrush." I've read Wyeth's description of his technique -- using his fingers to squeeze moisture out of the brush and spread the bristles -- and I've tried working that way -- but I'm pretty sure there's something about this method I'm not getting.

John Fleck said...

Gorgeous - i cannot imagine it looking better or more evocative in a full color treatment.

Daniel Best said...

This is beautiful! The shadows of the tree make it real. I'm sure I could stroll down the lawn to the back of the house!

Ravi Gupta said...

i really liked the compostion taking eyes to the centre window