Trying to Capture the Late Night Shadows in a Watercolor

Painting in the Man Cave Late Friday Night

Painting in the Man Cave Late Friday Night


Detailing the Door and Darkening the Surrounding Shadows

Detailing the Door and Darkening the Surrounding Shadows

If a painting is good, it will be mostly memory.

Andrew Wyeth

I spent much of this evening, listening to Andrew Wyeth documentaries on VHS and DVD, as the shadows gathered in the Man Cave.  As I look at Wyeth’s drybrush and watercolor sketches, I am mesmerized at his dark, dim interiors.  The D’Arches paper I use makes me think I am painting on snow–it is so white and reflective.  I apply countless glazes of pigment, trying to darken the areas around this pale blue bucket and capture the essence of the dim interior of a garage, work shed or barn.  One of these days, perhaps I’ll figure it out.

I did enjoy “scarifying” the door in the background.  My Man Cave has nine aged doors that I keep moving around and studying for their varying textures and colors.  I really want to master abused wood textures and colors in watercolor.  This has been a fascinating study for me.  I have combined watercolor, x-acto knife scrapes, colored pencil, watercolor pencil, graphite and fingerprints to build up layers of door grime.  I just love getting into this.

I’m still not sure how to get the blue pail to “pop.”  The blues I have been pouring on it have not really worked to my liking, yet.  I have worked transparently, layering wash after wash.  There is still plenty of paper surface shining up through the layers of pigment, but I’m still not getting the luminosity I want.  I’m not sure how to solve this issue yet.

The overturned Coca-Cola crate has surprised me.  I’ve barely touched it, and I feel that it is about “there”, if not “there” already.  I had this same issue twice before when painting a cast-iron skillet in my two large still-lifes back in January.  The skillet only required minimal work and was done.  I was disappointed!  I wanted to work it, re-work it, and re-work it, applying layers and textures, and building up pigments, but it seemed to shape itself rather quickly.  That is what has happened to the Coca-Cola crate–I had all kinds of plans for it, and it looked “finished” before I even got into it.  Oh well.  Maybe the next time it will be more obdurate.

Well, it’s getting late.  I have a plein air invitation pending for tomorrow, and I’m seriously considering participating in the event.  So I guess I’ll turn out the lights and give this painting a rest.  Tomorrow in the daylight I can see if I like what’s happening.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint to remember.

I journal because I am alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.



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5 Responses to “Trying to Capture the Late Night Shadows in a Watercolor”

  1. Sampurna Says:

    The coca cola crate looks really good in your painting. How do you manage to “write” in your paintings? I find it so difficult with watercolours…


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. I find it easier to copy the letters upside down, because I see them as shapes instead of “reading” them, and I’m more conscious of the shapes of the spaces between the letters. I drew the letters first, then outlined them carefully with a prismacolor red pencil. Then, with a pointed brush, I flowed the red wash all around them until done. Once it was dry, I dragged a damp brush over the entire surface, so the white would be “grayed” and the red would bleed somewhat (with that side in shadow, I thought the muted effect would be better).


  2. coreyaber Says:


    I can see why you like this bucket and pine cone combination. The little bits of rust on the robin’s egg blue is very attractive. I also like the way you handle the doors. Those are fascinating studies to look at closely.

    I too like the Wyeth painting that inspired you. I recently read “Andrew Wyeth: Memory and Magic,” and was struck by some of the analysis of his painting decision process, such as how frequently he removed people from his paintings and suggested them through objects instead. The chapter on “Groundhog Day” was especially good. Your painting got me thinking directly about Wyeth again (with the weather improving and the greens coming out, I put him aside), and I am now looking forward to trying some more Wyeth style dry brush studies soon.


    • davidtripp Says:

      Thanks so much for your input. I have checked out “Memory and Magic” from the local library, and think I may have to purchase it so i can read it and mark it up! It is one of the few Wyeths that I have not yet read, though I’ve pored over the illustrations. There is so much I’m learning, now that I’m finally giving still life a chance, and spending time looking at the Wyeth compositions. I’m still flummoxed about darkening the interiors–I have to work so hard to get that light off the paper.

      I feel that I’m nearing completion on this piece. I worked on it till nearly midnight last night.


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