Monday, January 11, 2010

Final changes for Jason and Miki

At this point I continued to work on defining elements of the house, darkening the porch area, adding the stone textures around the base of the house and porch, strengthening the cast shadows, etc. I also added the shrubbery around the house and added highlights and shadows to the foliage.

I also removed the masking from the porch railings and step handrails, and added the fine details in the windows.

Here's the final image of the house, with the foliage in the background darkened. I used a bit of splatter in the second stage of the foliage, and carefully masked off the house and portions of the sky to safely add the splatter. Simple pieces of cut and torn paper fulfilled that need.

I have placed a transparent watermark across the house, so the strange highlights in the porch are part of that watermark.

A message from Miki indicated that they were happy with the house portrait, so that always pleases me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First washes in house portrait

These are the first washes I applied after transferring the grid drawing to my watercolor paper using my light box.

I struggled with the foreground, given the sense of slope, and all the shadows. My first attempts looked awful, with squiggly shapes dominating everything. It was too busy, mostly resulting from my attempt to freelance those washes. I ended up scrubbing nearly all of the foreground away, and starting over (I'm so glad that Arches paper is durable).

My next attempt at the foreground started with some light pencil outlines of the main shadow shapes, and followed by careful application of paint in those areas with a smaller brush. Experts always say you should use as large a brush as possible, but I always get into trouble when I try to work that way. So I fell back to my dependable No. 6 round, and softened some of the shadows' edges as I worked.

When that dried, I applied additional washes over the lawn, darkened some areas of the shadows, and scrubbed away some other areas to soften the edges. Thank goodness the area seemed to come together this time.

The background was completed by wetting the entire upper half of the paper, excluding the house shape, and applying Cerulean Blue for the sky. Then, while that was still wet, I dropped in mixtures of Cad Yellow, Burnt Sienna, and Hookers Green to create soft blossoms of foliage. Some of the tree trunks were masked out prior to the wash applications.

Next, I continued to define shapes within the house, particularly with the first shadow washes. I mixed the shadows on the siding with a host of pigments....can't completely remember what I used now, but I struggled to keep them somewhat warm so they would mesh with the siding. I also worked hard at trying to vary the density and edges of shadows on the right section of the house that were cast by nearby trees. Variations there were necessary to make the shadows realistic.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

For Jason and Miki

I was asked to complete a commission as a gift for some family members.

Now that it's January, the gift has been opened, and I can discuss the painting. I also took some work-in-progress photos to share.

The commission was a surprise for Christmas, so I had to do some covert reference work to obtain photos of Jason and Miki's house.

Once there, I realized that the positioning of the house and the slope of the yard was going to make it difficult to capture the structure in a single shot. At the request of Jason's mom Mary, the painting was to be a straight-on vantage point, so I couldn't resort to my usual corner shot to fit everything into the scene.

This odd-looking shot is actually a panorama scene created in Photoshop by meshing together several images of the house. Thus, the fish-eye lens effect. It's the first time I had used the panorama feature, and now I understand that to make it work more effectively, I should have walked along the front of the house and maintained an equal distance parallel to the house to take the shots.

Instead, I stood in a single spot, and turned my body for each of the shots (I think there were four in all). The mix of angles really magnified the distortions.

To make sense of all the conflicting angles, I used grid paper when I drew the first sketch of the house. That helped me establish parallel lines and develop appropriate proportions. Because of the awkward source shot and the confused horizon line, some of the vanishing points and angles are inaccurate, but I think I was able to get most of the structure situated in a realistic rendition.