Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Washington Square Arch

Here's a watercolor painting I did last Saturday of the famous Washington Square Arch in New York City. It took about an hour and it's about 5x8 inches.


Here's the setup. The blue wedge was something I made for the OPEN webcast later that day. I worked at sight-size and did some careful measuring at the beginning.

When measuring I find it helps to squint through one eye and to hold the pencil on the same plane as the drawing, so that the measurements in the scene can directly translate to the drawing.

I realize this isn't a very complete explanation of measuring for those who aren't familiar with the practice, but if you like, perhaps I can have a go at that topic in a future post.
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Attention Lionfish Shampoo fans: The Flickr gallery of all entries is now live at the end of the following post.
Previously: Go Vertical

13 comments:

Dom said...

James, this is great. Your plein air and watercolor posts are my favorite. Wish there was a video accompanying this one.

I actually drew the same arch about two months ago when I was visiting in Manhattan. Here's the video I took of it- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF6v_JWDND8

Keep it up!

Karl Kanner said...

Great style and light! I've been a fan of yours since I could read. Keep up the great work and posts.

Artillory said...

Oh yes, please, do go into sight sizing and cropping in your plein air studies. I find that the hardest part of doing accurate studies.How do you reduce all that information and keep your proportions correct.

cfd56584-0f4f-11e3-9ed1-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Darn, I was in NY that very day and watched a painter by the Flat Iron for a minute. If only I had known!

John Kaay said...

Yes, please!
A post on that kind of sight size. Do you put the pencil right up against the paper?

Elizabeth Michelle said...

Oh, James! And all this time I thought you were winking at your cute wife.

Mikhail P. Schalk said...

Yes definitely a post on measuring. I'm trying to learn how to measure better from reference. I'm terrible at working out the right angles too.

What do you do to paint the people when they're all moving about?

Matt said...

I agree with Artillory. Please do a further explanation of sight size. This has always been a little bit of a mystery to me!

Great painting btw. And thanks for the best book I've ever purchased (Color and Light)!!!

Simone said...

Nice simple design. Like the suggestion of detail, especially on the arch. Good use of the white paper to help suggest bright light.

TAP said...

I am curious James; The warm and cold shadows look like they are just right. Was this merely on visual observation or is there some rule of thumb concerning shadows cast by horizontal elements that explains the warmth of tone?

James Gurney said...

TAP, thanks! and good question. The basic rule of color in shadows is that downfacing planes are warm (because they get bounce light from the warm ground) and upfacing planes are cool (because they get sky color). Vertical planes are a mix of warm and cool. That's what I was thinking about when I painted the shadows.

Unknown said...

Shame I missed you in NYC!

Craig Wilson said...

I don't measure every time I sketch, and I'm not too terribly great at it when I do practice it, but even so, doing it just occasionally has imparted marked improvements on my sketching abilities.