This week, a painter friend named Scott Lloyd Anderson is here in the Hudson Valley, and we decide to go out sketching together. But it's freezing cold and raining all day, so we need to find an indoor subject.
|Amtrak Station, Rhinecliff, New York by James Gurney, gouache, 5x8 inches.|
We find a perfect spot at the Rhinecliff train station. It's warm and dry, with bathrooms and a bunch of coin-op machines. I want my view to include the ticket booth and the benches, as if it is a stage set built for a dramatic production.
I love train stations because they're the setting for a thousand little human dramas of arrival and departure, greeting and saying good-bye. People do a lot of waiting, looking at cellphones.
The day before our session, I email the regional operations manager to ask permission to paint there, and he graciously allows us, as long as we are neat and safe and don't get in the way of passenger traffic. Fortunately the landing where Jeanette and I are painting is unused. Scott finds a place on the main floor near the ticket window.
We invite curious passengers and station agents to come by and take a look. One station agent sees the painting and says it sends chills down her spine. A musician pulls out a mandolin and strums it a little. The mood in the room is pure magic.
Here's what my line drawing looks like. It's fairly simple one point perspective, but it takes an hour. The eye level or horizon is even with the lower crossbar on the window, and the vanishing point is the little circle at the right hand edge of the window.
With a half inch flat brush, I block in the far wall and the gradation on the floor. Even though the paint is fairly opaque, I can see my construction lines through thin washes.
I am going for a quick overall statement of the values, with broadly stated warm and cool areas. The blue light is reflecting off the red tile floor and also off much of the woodwork on the ticket counter at right, so I drop in that blue color early in the lay-in.
The cluttered details on the counter are made up of a series of light and dark strokes overlapping like confetti. Any kind of gouache paint lends itself to such rapid impressionistic handling.
The paint I'm trying out is called Acryla Gouache, made by Holbein. They sent me a sample set to try out (thanks guys). In this painting I'm using only titanium white, jet black, burnt sienna, deep yellow, and ultramarine blue.
Mini review: The pigment density and opacity are comparable to regular gouache paints. Because of the acrylic medium in the paint formulation, I can glaze over previously stated passages without picking up those earlier layers. But I've got to be sure to keep the brushes wet until I have a chance to really clean them because the acrylic medium would wreck a brush if it dried in it. The paint surface dries matte, which allows me to draw over the top with colored pencils, something that doesn't always work in casein. Acryla gouache comes out of the tube slightly more liquidy than casein paint, so if I want impasto whites I have to wait for it to start to dry up.
The whole painting takes about four hours (scroll up to see the finish), and it's painted with just two brushes: the half inch flat and a smaller round.
You can see additional steps in the sequence at my Facebook page.
Tomorrow: What Jeanette painted.
Holbein Acryla Gouache
Caran D'ache Supracolor colored pencils (mainly for the lines between the floor tiles)