"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Story of a watercolor challenge

"Adobe Dawn," 10" x 30" watercolor, 300 lb. d'Arches cold press paper, ready to frame
Large watercolor paintings intimidate me. 
They challenge me because in landscapes, you have to plan ahead, with sketches and studies, and then paint quickly on still wet paper when attempting skies and other washes. That requires more skill and confidence than I have because watercolor can be unforgiving and mistakes show up quickly and are more apparent the larger your format.
This challenge began when friend Theresa Hurt at Pirates Alley Frame Shop in The Village gave me a frame and mat. I'd been wanting to attempt a long horizontal piece, and the gift was the challenge. 
But, as in chess or anything else, I guess, without challenges, life would be dull and there'd be no improvement.
5 x 7 studies
First were sketches, then small studies as I played with color. Next was an uptight failure. Then the stages you see below, till I finished today.
By the time I'm through, I'm already thinking I should have done such and such  or not done something else. And the longer I look at a new painting, I'm usually tempted to go back into it and make a few adjustments, which can lead to disaster.
Today's painting is no exception. First mistake was probably stretching it out over several days, which meant I was overthinking  it. But that's too late for this one, but there will be another.
This challenge began when Theresa Hurt at Pirates Alley gave me a frame and mat. I'd been wanting to attempt a long horizontal piece, and the gift was the challenge. I wanted to try to express the wide open vistas of the Southwest, of New Mexico, and the subject evolved into the beauty of adobe at dawn.
Here are the previous stages.



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