"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.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

A painting begins

A beginning
The Fort Reno chapel seems a simple subject for a painting, brilliant white walls, straight angles, blue shadows, lots of  stories, considering it was built by German POWs in 1944, the year of my birth.
But simple it isn't I discovered as I began trying to do a watercolor, remembering that "I'm not a camera, I'm an artist," as the terrific painter Thomas W. Schaller writes in his book, "Architect of Light."
Final value study
First steps are value sketches, from an earlier one on site this week. Even that's not simple as you try to get perspectives and proportions correct. It took several attempts and views, while deciding on composition, and paints.
Then there was choosing the colors, looking for complementary and thus contrasting colors (in this case, blues and oranges).  a few experiments mixing paints, and at least three attempts of the skies on watercolor paper.
There was more "stewing," considering the composition, another value sketch, and more mixing of colors. And, underneath it all, figuring out what really inspired me, and what story I'm trying to tell. More on that later. 
And then I put the photograph away and don't look at it when painting, as advised by one of my workshop teachers Tom Lynch. I'm not painting the chapel, but what inspired me, again from Schaller.
Today, first stages in what I hope will be a work of art, not the  photograph I took Tuesday.

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