Saturday, August 4, 2012

Plein Air on the Porch

"Another beautiful afternoon for painting" I posted to facebook just before I set out for Sovereign House for Plein Air class on Tuesday.  Twenty minutes later the sky had darkened and thunder and lightening made painting on the lawn out of the question.  Just before the deluge I quickly cut a few flowers from garden and set up this arrangement in the shelter of the covered porch.
 First, a quick sketch in my Arches spiral-bound watercolour pad.   The jar was, conveniently enough, half the height of the pitcher, and the height of the flowers in the pitcher, from pitcher rim to petal tip, was the same height again, balancing the composition into thirds.  (Very dark skies indeed, at this point)
 A bit of masking fluid on the white phlox flower heads was the next step, and while that was drying I roughed in a few of the black-eyed-susans.
To make a blurred garden background I started with the colours of the background flowers, dropping quinicridone magenta into a clear wash to indicate pink phlox, and a row of cadmium yellow just above that, for more black-eyed-susans.
When this first application had settled I re-wet the background (keeping crisp edges at the jars and porch rails) and dropped in the background greens, using Hookers Green with a dash of yellow or ultramarine added to vary the shade for depth.
While the background was drying I came back to the foreground, touching up the yellow daisies, indicating the water level in the jar and pitcher, and shading the porch rail and posts. With the background dry it was time to peel off the masking fluid and get to work on the flowers and foliage.  By now the sun was coming out again, drooping flowers had straightened up and the jar and pitcher had become quite cloudy with condensation.
I used neutral tint to capture the thickness of the glass, especially at the base,and marked the perceived "break" in the stems where they passed through the elipse of the water surface.  
All in all, a fine afternoon for painting!