Nearly Finished With This Watercolor of Hermann, Missouri
The book, if you would see anything in it, requires to be read in the clear, brown, twilight atmosphere in which it was written; if opened in the sunshine, it is apt to look exceedingly like a volume of blank pages.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Twice-Told Tales
Retiring to bed at 2:00 this morning, I was surprised to wake without an alarm shortly after 8:00. There is no school today, but the routine 6:00 alarm apparently has me waking earlier in the mornings these days, even when no such alarm is set. I came into the studio eagerly, ready to take the next step on this watercolor, but instead just sat and looked over it, in no hurry to stitch up the final details. So instead, I have been sitting in a comfortable chair with coffee, books and journal, and have set the painting on an easel ten feet in front of me in the morning light, and occasionally I look up at it, much as Andrew Wyeth did with his near-completed compositions. Wyeth would put them in a prominent place in his living room, so he could catch glimpses of them (“from the corner of my eye”, he said) as he walked throughout the house in the course of a day. Eventually he reached a decision of whether or not the painting needed further work. I suppose that is what I am doing now. Two days ago, a student whose opinion I respect highly saw the painting and thought it looked finished already. Many times I have pushed a watercolor past its completion point and felt disappointed that it had been overworked, overdone. So, I am letting this one breathe for awhile.
This latest watercolor contrasts starkly with the one I have generally used as a measuring-stick against all subsequent work:
Summer Morning on Sundance Square
Completed several summers ago, I found great satisfaction in the hot sun-filled composition of this piece. I was at my boldest in the use of color and sharp contrasts not only in value but in the complementary colors.
Last Christmas season, when I trekked through that quaint German town Hermann, Missouri, I felt an exhilaration I cannnot describe as I took picture after picture, all the time hoping, wondering if I could possibly render a watercolor to capture the cold winter light that diffused across that cityscape, and the sense of mist that crept up from the Missouri River far down below. I knew that a muted, misty painting could possibly come across as boring when juxtaposed with a sharp, summer composition such as this one in Sundance Square.
As the Texas summer approaches, I will no doubt return to plenty of these hot compositions. But right now, I am really loving the look of my muted, atmospheric piece, and believe I’ll continue to look at it “from the corner of my eye” and make a decision of whether to leave it as is, or look for ways to put some spice into it. Right now, I just don’t know.
I have some abandoned watercolors littered about my studio, so I believe I’ll find one of them to focus on for the time being.
Thanks always for reading.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.