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I keep track of these things, so I know for a fact that the first perfect day of the year won’t get here for another ten weeks. Statistically, the First Perfect Day of the Year arrives on the Long Island Sound on May 14. Until then, I plan on being in a bad mood.

But it’s exhausting, keeping oneself up on one’s high horse, so to give myself a break I decided to paint something for my lost-cause-of-a-Rain Book.

The picture I wanted to make was something that had an old-timey feel to it, as if it were a picture from the kind of picture books they used to make in the 1940s. I happen to have an old picture book from the 1940s and I’m very taken with its dusty images and that’s what I wanted to try to re-create. So I thought the best way to re-create that vintage look was to paint something from memory.

So this is a scene that is totally made from memory (I never even bothered to turn on a lamp to check if the lighting was right — I wanted it to all look like a stage-setting):

I’m going to show you this Work In Progress in reverse because when I loaded up these pix I was in fact loaded and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Ha Ha, that’s not really true. Top Cat is on a health kick and we both of us are staying pure and sober this month week weekend day hour.

So actually, when I loaded up these pix, I was just wishing I were loaded. For purely mental health Get-Me-Through-The-End-of-Winter reasons.

Each time that I stopped what I was doing to take these snap shots, I was sure I had just ruined the picture. (Note use of masking fluid on the books on the bedspread.)

I was totally guessing here. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, just making it up as I went along.

I had not worked out the colors before hand, so I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the rug to be green. But when I looked at my paint box I had to ask myself, “What the hell else color could it be but green???” Because I had already decided that I wanted the bedspread to be blue.

And I had also very wisely decided that I should paint the light — that is, the “light” — first.

But when you start painting the “light” first, you have no way of knowing whether your “light” is going to work. for that, you have to wait until the whole damn picture is finished, and then you get an idea whether or not you have succeeded in painting “light”.

Now, if you scroll this post back up to the top, you’ll see whether or not the “light” worked. You can do it right now and meet me back here afterwards. I’ll wait.

Oh! You’re back!

I just want to congratulate us all on making it through another week. I hope all of you have an exciting new project lined up for the weekend and I hope you all learn something wonderful about light, and books, and being comfy on a rainy day.

8 comments to Back to basics.

  • janet bellusci

    drunk or not, and i’m not at this minute (it is only 6:51am), it was a real treat to see the PROCESS of your painting. thank you.

  • Deborah

    Light = good.

    This year has been anything but normal so far, so I’m thinking your First Perfect Day might be any day now.

    I mean, I saw a butterfly this week: a butterfly. In February. That’s just wrong. Delightful, but wrong.

    Besides, I’m thinking April 10 will be a perfect day. Two new books that I’ve preordered are released that day!

  • Thank you for the step-by-step photos with instructions, I come back to your watercolor lessons again and again to see how to do stuff.
    This will be right up there with painting autumn leaves, very helpful indeed, soused or no.
    I still think you could do a book on techniques, you do things I’ve never seen explained in my plethora of watercolor how-to books.
    Maybe it’s just more fun to come here and see.
    Perfect day weeks away? Daffodils are up here, can a robin be far behind?

  • Oh, I love seeing the process step by step! Thank you. It’s lovely and the light is warm and inviting (unlike the gray light of the sky over Seattle right now).

    I do have a weekend project — to start on a series of small paintings of trees and birds in watercolor with gold leaf accents. First up is a willow with a robin. I hope it will help me get into a Spring mood despite the gray. Cheers!

  • Nadine

    The light works. It’s the bed that’s wrong.

  • Jeannie

    Thanks for the step by step. I think staying tipsy til spring is an excellent idea. The winter that started out odd and has continued to be odd, may never end. We have sunny, warm days to be followed by cold, windy, & snowy days. Keeping me confused and cranky! I bought tulips today. I needed color other than sienna and blah. Wishing you a color-filled weekend. (Or a bottle of wine.)

  • yes, I love seeing the process of something I could never, ever succeed in doing!

  • Deb

    Beautiful, Vivian. I finally got a chance to show my husband When Wanderers Cease to Roam and he was thoroughly impressed. As he should be.

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