Last weekend was busy for me and I got a lot done. As a par-time painter I have to concentrate and plan to get the most out of the weekend. On Saturday they held another session of the Gwinnett Plein Air Challenge, this time downtown Lawrenceville. The weather’s been dicey with a lot of rain in the afternoon so I got an early jump on it and arrived across from the courthouse at about 9AM. There were already several painters set up and working, among them Donna Biggee, Judy Surowiec and Junko Ono Rothwell all three very good, award winning painters. I put some pressure on myself by not producing a good quality painting in the few sessions of this competition and then missing the last one while away on vacation so I was under the gun to get a good one.
The previous night I Googled the intended subject—the courthouse and did the virtual tour looking for a good spot to set up. I was intent on using one of my new 12 x24″ boards but it looked to me that the view was not wide enough. Everyone was set up very close to the building with a foreshortened view of the tower. I was determined to do a very strait on plan view and with the help of my previous nights scouting knew exactly where to set up. There is a large empty lot used for parking across the street and I was able to set up at the end of it facing the building almost two blacks away—perfect for my plan. I use an 11 x14 linen panel tone with a buff brown wash. I mixed a alizarin and ultramarine blue mixture shaded to the warm side and used it to mass in the building. I was very careful to get the entire structure in, working out the proportions, I did not want to bleed the tower off the top. After the was in I used a rag and rubbed out the lights —this has become part of my regular procedure. The result are a tone grisaille drawing that I can use as a basis to apply more paint. Using my 2 inch flat I went from there to adding local color. It was a bright day and I was able to mix my light in the final steps and put them in directly. All in all it worked well. I was proud of myself for resisting over painting the highlights and even though they were not place perfectly the look was fresh and bright. An immediate positive r
e-action from the other painters said that this one might be one of the two I can enter in the competition which ends in September. I spent only about two hours on the courthouse and did a second painting of the some of the crepe myrtles on the corner of the building. This was smaller and very loose —not as showy as the first but a good sketch. I posted the courthouse painting to Facebook and it went viral in the next few days with 290 hits—amazing, more than twice the number of any other posting.
Sunday I got up early again to avoid afternoon weather on the forecast and setup about a block from my house on Sandy Plains Rd. I’ve been meaning to paint this view for some time and I set up right on the sidewalk looking down the hill towards Sweat Mountain. The sun was going in and out of the clouds and I picked up on the idea of a shadow up front on the road and the hill being lit up. I started as before with a grisaille wash in of the alizarin and ultramarine then rubbed out the lights. The tonal drawing really helped here with a few car like shapes working out well. When it came to put in the light I only added ocher and white to the palate with a decidedly more harmonious coloration as a result. Boy-oh-boy two good ones in two days!