Saturday, December 22, 2018

Traveling towards Delft

Reference photo for "Traveling towards Delft."
In the spring of 2016, I went to Amsterdam and while I was there took a lot of photos with my iPhone. Not the highest quality, but still useful as painting references. One group of pictures is especially bad, as I took them while going from Amsterdam to Delft via train -- and it was an overcast day. However, I've found that it's possible to work from even marginal reference photos. This photo is the one I selected to use for this painting. 

Step #1

To begin, I drew a faint horizontal line to divide the sky from the landscape. I placed it lower than the middle of the paper because I wanted to emphasize the sky (Step #1). I also blocked in several building shapes, and the church steeple on the right. Next, I dampened the paper in the upper section, and laid in some loose washes of Cobalt Blue mixed with a little Burnt Sienna. I made sure to leave plenty of white for the clouds. When it was dry, I went back and added another wash of Cobalt in a few areas to deepen the sky, especially near the horizon line. At this early stage I began adding sky reflections to the canal running through the middle of the fields. I left several rectangular areas white, which would later become roofs of buildings. I sped up the drying time using a hairdryer.

Then I began the darker foliage along the horizon, painting around the building shapes (Step #2). For this, I used Shadow Green, Undersea Green, and a little Sepia. I added the green foreground, using a light wash of Green Gold mixed with Hooker's Green. While this was damp, I used Undersea Green to emphasize the furrows on the field area.

Step #2
I painted the buildings using Sepia mixed with a small amount of French Ultramarine, suggesting the shapes without much detail (Step #3). I left the roof areas white, as they appear in the photo. 

Step #3
I continued to work on the canal reflections, and also added foliage on the right-hand side. I used a wash of Mineral Violet in several places to add light shadows (even though there was no sunshine/shadow in the original photo!). I gave interest to the roofs by touching them with a pale wash of French Ultramarine. Finally, I dampened the lower clouds and used a light wash of Burnt Sienna and a little of Mineral Violet to add warmth. The finished painting is not a carbon-copy of the reference photo, but I hope captures the atmosphere of the time and place...

"Traveling by Train to Delft"  transparent watercolor
Available for purchase. Contact me via email.

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