Tonight I tried to paint the same thing and incorporate some of the lessons I learned last time. This is my second attempt at the exercise in the third chapter of Ron Hazell’s book The Artist’s Guide to Painting Water in Watercolor.
As usual there are a lot of things I would do differently on the next one, but I’m excited to move on to the next exercise, so I’m going to plow ahead.
Let’s start with the composition. This time I really wanted to push the building back. I don’t like the way the closest boat sits in the example, because the white space between the two wharfs reads like a sail on the boat. To fix that, I moved the building back by shrinking it, and moved the white boat to the right so the white space could come around the bow. This seemed to completely fix the problem with the phantom sail. I also shrunk the far boat, and did away with the horizontal shadows on the far wharf. These changes I think improve the composition, though it still feels very flat.
I also heavily saturated the sky, and the water in the foreground in an attempt to make it feel like the viewer is under the sky. I think that helped give some perspective to the sky that wasn’t there before, but it also makes the sky feel like a low ceiling, almost like you have to duck to be in the scene. If I were to do it again, I would lighten up a bit on the sky.
The trees in the distance worked the way I wanted. I waited for the sky to dry, then put down a line of clean water, and dabbed Indanthrone (lets just call it Indie) Blue into the water at the horizon, letting it crawl upward by osmosis. I used a 1/4” flat brush so I could use it vertically to usher the pigment in the right direction. Then, I went back over with some Burnt Sienna which is nearly complimentary to the Indanthrone Blue, and mixes to a cool grey. Then, I dropped three trees in Hansa Yellow, and walked away, never to return. I’m glad I left it alone. At first I wanted to go in and warm it up a bit, or get some more color there for interest, but I knew last time that ruined the horizon so I just let it go, and I think that was the right call.
Then, I painted the boats. I didn’t want the far boat’s stern to be as white as the near boat’s stern, so I added a tiny bit of Indie Blue to cool it a smidge. I could maybe have gone a touch darker in value, but it’s so close, and the risk of deepening the value outweighed the slight error, so I left it. I also added a thin strip of red where the boat sits on the water because I noticed that in Ron Hazell’s image. I really like the effect that generates.
I then painted the near wharf. I dropped in some hansa yellow, perinone orange, quin purple, and indie blue to give it some variation. The multiple pigments came close to creating mud, but I think I got out in time.
I also decided not to paint the surface of that wharf, and I like the way the far posts define the surface of the wharf without me having to paint it.
The far boat looks like a banana. Oops.
The rope on the near boat is too dark, and too thick, and it runs so closely to tangentially with the right edge of the boat’s reflection that it makes it look even fatter. Again… oops.
The reflections are ok. I love that rope. I’ll add a picture of the painting before I added the rope to show you how integral that rope is to creating perspective.
Well I could keep going. But I’m tired again. Tomorrow I’ll move on to the next exercise.