My wife, Joy, and I are currently staying at her cousin’s house. I may have mentioned the other day that the house , Joy and her cousins have a long history together. I find myself sketching and painting in the back yard every day. There are wonderful rocks and iron lanterns in what is left of a Japanese Garden that her uncle installed many years ago.
After finishing the picture below, Joy’s cousin mentioned that when she sells the house (as she surely will), the paintings will bring back fond memories of her time at home. I had already told her the pictures were hers, at which time she welled up with tears. I hadn’t expected that. To me, there are always some improvements I could have made, problems with tonal values, design or something else that could have done better. It is somewhat shocking to know that what I create could have an emotional impact. Now and then, I am relatively satisfied with my work, but still I see room for improvement. I often paint the same subject over and over again with the idea of correcting the faults from the previous attempts (Settling, Back to Reading).
I wonder if it is a common phenomenon that artists receive disproportionate emotional responses to their work. I believe this was one of the themes of the movie Five Easy Pieces.
I sketched the painting below quite heavily. I used my jumbo pencil again. I started with a rough sketch with hardness HB, putting in the shadows of the rocks; I then used jumbo pencils with 4B and 6B softness to make the shadows darker. I was uncertain of the effect of applying watercolor on top of the pencil marks.
The foreground is clear of detail partly because it is an outdoor carpet. Joy’s uncle used it for golf practice. I wanted the foreground to be very dark, but the sunlight was bright on the left side of the picture. I used sap green for the lighter part and shadow green (Holbein) for the dark side. I glazed with lemon yellow, which brought out the brightness on the left but did not lighten the shadow on the right.
I used my favorite earth tones for the rest of the ground work (burnt sienna, quinacridone gold, warm sienna and yellow ochre). The rocks are a combination of ivory black, Payne’s gray and Neutral Tint (Dailer Rowney). I used burnt sienna for the ground shadows next to the rocks.
The pool basin, which lies underneath the wooden bridge, is Prussian blue, as in previous sketches. The bridge itself is mainly white tinted with blue, the shadows composed of Payne’s gray.
It didn’t seem to matter that I did not erase or brighten up the pencil marks before I started painting. However, if you look carefully, you might see a ‘B’ that I marked in a couple of areas to indicate where I should use blue paint.