|Ink & watercolor, 10x7 Handbook Field Watercolor Journal|
When I started painting this sketch, I tackled the plants in the center box first, starting with a light-to-medium initial wash. After that had dried, I built up layers of darker tones to give the plants a sunlit look. It's the contrast between light highlights and deep shadows that gives the feeling of intense sunlight.
I thought you might like to see how I changed things from the scene I saw, below. I darkened the pots to make them look older and more weathered, and I conjured up a pot of pink flowers for the foreground, just to add a touch of color.
After the plants were fairly complete, I started on the palm tree. I added interest to the palm fronds by using a variety of colors like Yellow Ochre, Earthen Green (American Journey), Burnt Sienna, and Perylene Red (Daniel Smith). The trunk was painted a warm tannish gray using Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, and Cobalt Blue. Darker values were added to the entire tree after the first layer had dried.
The beautiful old building with its deep front porch and Mission style architecture came next. The front part of the building had a terra cotta roof which required several passes with paint, but the round ballroom had a smooth roof that made a nice background for the tree growing up in front of it. How convenient for me!
Before painting the ballroom roof, I masked the twigs and branches of the tree with masking fluid, making it a simple matter to go back at the end, remove the masking, and add some color to the branches. (I love that cupola, don't you? So cute!)
(Oops! I just noticed that I forgot to finish painting the little palm tree on the right. I'd better take care of that! It needs some darker values. This happens all the time - I don't see the mistakes or omissions on a sketch until I scan it and go to use it in a post. Sheesh!)
Finally it was time to finish off the border. I almost always leave the page border till the end. Even if I draw the border design in the initial stages of laying out my page, which I did in this case, I always wait until the end to paint it, so I can coordinate the colors with the sketches on the page. It's often a tough decision, deciding what colors to use on the border. It can affect the whole look of the page. In this instance, I think I made the right decision. The Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre tie in to the terra cotta pots, brick steps, and roof on The Casino.
The design for the border was inspired by a stenciled wall border in the West Wing of the building, just off the Patio of the Stars, where we were sketching. You can see that I enlarged the curlicues to make it a little more interesting.
The corner stars on my border came from the star tiles embedded in the floor of the Patio of the Stars...
A lot goes into planning and painting a page like this, but it's so satisfying when it all comes together.
Quick sketching seems to be the goal of a lot of sketchers nowadays, but that's never really been a priority for me. I draw fairly quickly, but I like to take my time when painting my sketches. What's the rush anyway? I don't care if it takes fifteen minutes, an hour, or even a day or two to complete a page. All that matters is that I'm doing my own thing and enjoying it. There's no right or wrong way to do this - we each have to find what works best for us.