Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Goldenrain Tree

She just seems a bit shy to me, as though she would happily hide, but the harsh afternoon sun and her own exotic foliage conspire to make her a star.

5.5"x11.5" Pastels on Wallis Museum Grade
The challenge to myself was to take an utterly boring photo and do a painting using Richard McKinley’s watercolor under painting technique…and try to make the painting more interesting than the photo. You see the journal entry here with color sketch and photo.

The first time out I used a rather strongly colored under painting like I see so many artists use. My colors got too hot though and I couldn’t get harmony between a lemon-lime sky and hot orange leaf litter.
Version 1
So I tried again. Here is a series of snapshots as things progressed toward what was the final piece at the top of the post. This time I spent much more time on the sketch, trying to get the radial arms placed properly as shapes. When I wing it, my drawing mind gets lazy trying to keep up with my color hand (as we see in the first attempt). In the end I could see from the watercolor where the painting was supposed to go.  That’s much more than I could say for the first attempt.

So okay—it’s a tree in the woods and it’s not a riot of circus’s nearly normal looking, and yet I am pleased. 10 hours today from decision to the declaration of  ‘done for now.'


  1. Oh, I really like the magenta with the green you used. I almost wish you had let a little more of it show in your final painting...

    This is an interesting technique. Looks like you're having fun. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks, Susan. Appreciate the observation. I didn't realize how yummy and even natural that magenta would be until it was barely peeking out! I did dab it around in the shadows a bit more. Maybe that's a secret...including a color that keeps you hunting for it and wanting more.

  3. I love your final really is a lot more interesting than the photo that you started with. Your perspective works well and the colors are lovely yet not unreal.....

  4. Your hard work is paying off Carol. Susan is right. That magenta is a great color to use for this and I like the way you have handled the tree.

  5. I was absolutely enthralled by what you did with the "boring" photograph.

    I have been inspired--and these wonderful pieces fill my eyes, which is the greatest compliment I can give.

  6. Thanks Gary and Beth, appreciate your taking the time to comment!

  7. Hi Carol Anne,
    Thanks for visiting and for your very encouraging comments. I'm loving seeing your process, and the idea of making the painting more interesting than the picture. I was feeling disappointed about the flat light for photographing on a recent trip, but you've inspired me use them as reference shots anyway, and make something more interesting!

  8. Hi Carole Anne,
    It is, indeed, a star you have created. I really enjoy seeing your process. It inspires me to try doing the same, especially after seeing your sucess. Thank so much for sharing.

  9. Beautiful paintings and pastels.
    Excelent colors!