My yellow neighbor
Climbing the fence again today.
Every year he grows more courageous—
Soon his feet will reach the ground.
After two days of business that left no time for painting, I was anxious to get the watercolors out again. I also wanted to paint outside because it was such a beautiful day. And as I cannot see the screen on my laptop when sitting outside, it was only logical that I should do a plein air painting.
The yellow flowers on the fence were the object of my attention today. Originally I was going to make a rough sketch-type drawing and fill it in with color, but then I decided to try once more to actually paint the scene pretty much as I saw it. It has many flaws, but there are certain parts of it that I really like. And the best part is that I learned a few new things about watercolor painting—by doing it.
This one was actually quite time-consuming, as it seemed I painted every individual flower and leaf on the vine. I wanted to add more, but the sun would be setting soon, and not only did I want to get a photograph of my painting while I still had daylight, but I also needed to cook supper for my family.
I did not know how to get the right color for the fence. While I know how to make black without black, I do not know how to make gray without black. Well, if I had a tray upon which to thin the paint with lots of water, I could have made gray. But all I had was a cup of water, a brush, and my watercolor pencils. So I doused the fence area with water, colored over the wet paper with a white watercolor pencil, then brushed brown paint over all. The scrubbed-on white lent a grainy appearance to the wood. When everything else was done, I went back to the fence and added the splits between the pickets.
I used the same wet-on-wet technique for the sky, and the petals on the ground were also added on top of the wet green/brown grass, giving them a slightly different appearance from the lively petals on the vine. The rest was wet-on-dry. With the exception of the white paint for the fence, all the other paints were applied first directly to the brush, then painted.
To paint the vine, I started with dots of yellow, then painstakingly went around the dabs of yellow with green. It is all the same color green, but varying shades depending on how loaded my brush was with pigment. Every time I reloaded the brush, I went back to the top of the fence, where the vine was the thickest, then gradually moved away from it as the paint thinned out and lightened in color. I also went back over some of the light-green areas and added spots of darker green for depth. When I thought the green was thick enough, I went over all once again with more yellow, to eliminate more of the white spots and make the vine appear fuller. I think to save time, I should have started with the green, leaving white space for the yellow, then just gone over all of it with the yellow after the green was dry. That way the green would still show distinctly, though with a slightly different hue, but at least I wouldn’t have to spend nearly as much time putting in the yellow. I’ll try it again someday and do it that way to see how it turns out.
By the way, if my painting looks nothing like the photograph, it’s because the photo was taken around 9:00 in the morning, and I was painting throughout the afternoon, when the sun was behind the fence and consequently the shadows were much less intense.
“My Yellow Neighbor” copyright © 2018 Angela Umphers Rueger – All Rights Reserved