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I know I promised you, dear readers, a gallery of all the Pictures That Make Us Happy. But therre’s so many! And  I’m still re-sizing them all for this Blog-Gallery space! So, in the meantime, I’m going to bore you with What I Did Last Weekend:

Given the right circumstances (a good book that needs reading, a body that needs a day of unaccountability, a love of drama in the air that has gone too long unrequited) rainy days make me very happy.

It’s that last item, the drama in the air, that I have been trying to teach myself how to paint. As of now, this is how I paint a rainy day:

Not very dramatic. Altho I like the puddly effect in the grass (file away for later use), I do not want to paint a journal of rainy days if this is the best I can do. So I went through all my photographs of weather and I chose four snapshots that I used as my Lesson Plan on learning to let watercolor do what it does best.

I chose four very different photos for this experiment. I ended up with four paintings that vary from complete crap to not bad at all. Let’s start with the load of crap.

Day One:

Sky of Day One:

Landscape of Day One:

I was being too ambitious here. I am determined to learn how to pain a rainy day without using the color blue (I seem to remember that Eric Sloane used to do it with shades of yellow, but I’m going to have to research that)…but I’m not there yet.

On to Day Two:

I really want to let the paint and the water and the paper do the work:

And I think that if I’d been able to paint a non-crappy landscape, this might have worked:

Let’s try that concept again, on a day full of blues and drips.

I remember being stopped at a red light on this busy road and jumping out of my car so I could take this photo of an approaching storm, a photo that I now call Day Three:

It took me three attempts to get this:

Which I turned into this:

If I had to do it over again, I’d would have edited this painting down to make a  more effective picture. Like this:

I took this photo a few blocks from my house one January afternoon (Day Four):

And I want to tone down my use of paint to do this picture. I’m going to try to really, really let the paint and the water and the paper do their thing with this painting because if I can learn to manipulate the paint and the water and the paper, I will be able to paint a rainy day with a minimum of brush strokes — because that is the kind of rainy day art that I most enjoy looking at. I like pictures that are simple, elegant, expressive, and open to interpretation.

So here we go:

And here it is:

I like this.  I like the way the watercolor bit looks like watercolor, and the way the pencil stuff looks like pencil, and I like the way all together it creates an image of weather that is loose and [insert word that describes art that succeeds without being trompe l-oiel].

And here’s me keeping the promise I made on August 22 (see blog), when I told you that I’d show you how my Tron Church in Edinburgh turned out (the one that I drew and colored in, rather than painted).

Here it is:

P.S. My publisher called yesterday, to tell me that the first scans of Le Road Trip (AKA My Damn France Book) are in from London! I am away for the next three days, but I’ll have a FridaySept. 16 post with more lessons in How Publishing Really Works: First Galleys for all of youse who want to see how a pile of paper (that is, my manuscript) gets turned into an actual book.

Also: it’s so gratifying to know that readers are still discovering When Wanderers Cease to Roam three years after its pub date. (Do you know how rare that is in this day and age??) . Here’s the link to a brand new review of my little book that is written by a fellow journaler:

Have a great weekend!

4 comments to Not what I had promised.

  • Deborah

    I love the wispy trees in the second one and the uncropped third one.

    What is it about the sky that is so evocative? I take photos of the sky almost daily (and had to buy a 1T thing to store them on), so if you ever want some new photos to work from . . .

  • JOAN

    I find skies…sunny, with wispy clouds or nice big cumulous thunder boomers or downright angry storm skies incredibly difficult to paint….Rain? Fugetaboutit. You have really given us the steps of interpreting the rainy day. The painting of the church is superb. The edited painting of above the church is my favorite.

    I can only hope to render the stormy sky one day. You’ve inspired me.

    I just joined a group online…Paint My Photo…Judith Farmsworth (gently) critiques submissions under the subheading of Painting Loose…your photos of the stormy skies would really work for that group.

  • I love all the skies you’ve done here, god I wish I had artistic talent, like for anything. Really excited about the France book…

  • Mary

    Thank you, Vivian for all the work you do to show us your talent. Unless you have a printer right by your desk, you probably go back and forth to show each development of these wonderful images. We appreciate the work you do, and sharing it with us aspiring “artists”.

    I am using every hint/try/ example.
    Now, check the window for lurking cats . It might be time for a purr from them, too.

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