My dog was a bit under the weather on Sunday so I decided to stay home but was still determined to get in some plein air. In the late afternoon the next door neighbor’s house gets back-lit and turns from a boring to brilliant. After Saturday’s success I was eager to stay in the groove but I had to wait get the light I needed. So I decided to turn on the game thinking that it would be it my teams favor and “wrapped up” allowing me to get to work before the end.
To get a jump on the composition I did a few quick sketches from my driveway looking up towards the house between quarters. I try to stay away from a house portrait and usually shift the structure off one side or the other. I parked it on the right and highlighted the front yard. To help with the drawings I took a few quick shots on my camera, stuck them in my mac and sent myself an email. This gave me the chance to open the photo on my ipad and work on the drawing while I watched the Falcons go for six in a row. But my team looked lousy and I was stressed out as I worked a few more ideas into the composition. I got the idea of a man raking as a good focal point and a nod to the season. I set him in that sweet spot just to left and lower that the middle of the rectangle. I usually do a simple charcoal sketch on the board but with the game not decided until the last second this tuned into a detailed diagram. I was worried as the game was too close and dragged out plus about loosing the light so I set up the easel and everything, running out during the commercials—only guys do stuff like this. In the end we won at the last second and I hurried out to get to work. Spent a good hour working on the house keeping it darker than it was, anticipating the light failing. It’s a complicated house but I was helped by the charcoal underneath and everything looked right.
Here is where things went a bit offside. My plan was to really punch the light up front and work in the back with light against the trees and house. In my excitement I ended up painting out most of the house and hours work! A lesson here —don’t get caught up in details until you have the whole image developed. I also wavered from my commitment to premixing the color. I had a lot of paint left over from the previous day and I found that (or thought that) it was good enough to work with. In the end I was pleased with the image but upset that I painted out some nice work on the house. The figure worked out well though and is the true focal point anyway—maybe this is a case of my own distraction looking for a bit more of that house when in reality it may have taken away from the focus on the figure. Note:Revised painting on the bottom here – was it worth it?