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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Watercoloring Like it Was Oils

Saturation and Transparency

What often stops me and makes me choose a scene to paint out of doors is usually a saturated, brilliantly lit scene combining architecture and landscape. In Lucca the circuit of walls offers a wealth of options, cyclical as the sun winds its way around the city over the course of the day. From below or above, the walls, their balluardi (bastions), and gates present simple, powerful architectonic forms juxtaposed to rigorously planted rings and crowns of trees.

I painted the Porta San Donato from above over the weekend, with one of the city’s bishop-saints surveying the landscape beyond. Painting between about 5:45 and 7:45pm, the late afternoon summer light was saturated, the shadows growing longer on the ground, but the upper register of the gate illuminated fairly constantly by the westerly sun.

As I’ve moved from watercolor to oils in my outdoor painting over the last decade or so, I’ve found the experience of oil has pushed my watercolors to greater density and saturation in the darks, while giving me a new appreciation of the brilliance of un-watercolored white paper. As a painter-architect, I value the constant back and forth between disciplines, and the same fertile exchange I believe exists in alternating media. These are not lessons that can be taught, but they can be learned by experimentation and repetition.

For a view from below of the same area, see last year's post here.

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