It’s good to be back in the blogosphere! I hope you missed our get-togethers as much as I have because today’s post is going to make up for my absence — get ready for a two-tea-cupper update on all things V. Swift.
Another entry on our Beautiful Word List: Shenandoah.
So, now back to where we left off, at the Squinting thing.
As you recall from my last post, I made a huge leap in my precocious artistic development when I hit upon a new format for my watercolor illustrations. Namely, the long, narrow, horizontal format that I now call a Squint:
I can’t remember how I came upon the idea of doing the Squints, but I’m sure it had something to do with avoiding full-page illustrations, which I still did not feel I could do, even after 2-3 years of painting, even tho I was already an acknowledged prodigy, having published my first illustrated book at the precocious age of 52.
Getting back to the Squint, I liked the way it could contain, perhaps, a bit more information than a Triscuit:
…but would also look really neat, and unexpected, uh, different when placed on a page:
Although none of the above Squints made it out of my sketchbook, I very happily used other, specially-created Squints as the main artistic motif for my second book, Le Road Trip:
I still think they look spiffy on the page.
And now, please allow me to show you How To Make a Squint.
Since I work exclusively from reference photos, the first thing I had to do, in order to find the Squint in each reference photo, was to cut out a frame in the exact shape of a Squint, like, say, this one:
With my “frame” in hand, I roam around the photo, looking for The View. As you can see, below, this view could make an OK Squint…
…but this view is much better, right?
OK, time to get down to business. I make a few pencil lines on the watercolor paper to use as guides, to show me where the horizon is and, roughly, where the foliage will go:
And that’s all I need — the pic is now a composition.
I am using my trusty Grumbacher hobby-quality paints because when it comes to painting sunsets, I know what the paints will do and I trust them — I know that no other paint than Grumbacker will give me the subtlety that I need.
Also, because I tend to mix colors directly on each little disk of Grumbacher paint, I have to rinse each pan before I use them, to get at the pure pan color:
To do the sun set sky, I start with my Big Brush:
I lay in colors by using a method called “Wet in Wet:
See why I like the Grumbacher? So far, I’m laying in orange, blue, and fuscia, and the paints have not gone all muddy on me:
Yes, this takes practice, and a LIGHT TOUCH — do not overdue the brush work here — but the Grumbachers are great for this.
On a seperate bit of paper, I test my blue mixes (I’m using the colors that Grumbacher calls Prussian Blue and Cobalt Blue, and it looks to me like I have a bit of Violet in there too), before committing them to the composition:
To mix and apply the “clouds”, I switch to my 00 Extra Fine brush to dab lightly:
Checking in here, I see that the left side of the sky looks OK, but I need to dab in some more goldenness (that is, orange paint) onto the right side of the sky:
And some fuscia:
Now, we do the water — again, starting with the Big Brush:
For the shoreline, I am going to bleed some black Grunbacher into the damp “water” thusly:
I am, frankly, a little worried here; I might have dabbed in too much black paint, too soon…this could ruin the whole shebang. Oh well. Time will tell.
While this bit is still damp, I go back and make some shadows on the water, still using my 00 Extra Fine brush:
Next, I check to see if so far, so good. And, so far, so good. I can exhale now.
Since the foliage (back lit by the sunset and, thusly, in silhouette) will be such an outstanding part of this Squint, I will now switch from my Grumbacher paint to my trusty Windsor Newton Lamp Black paint, because I like the density of this paint — it covers better than the Grumbacher Black — and it’s also easy to handle:
After painting in background foliage, I make another check, back to the reference photo. So far, no major screw ups:
This part of the photograph (below), this sillohouette of leaves and the negative space of the foliage, here in the lower right quadrant, is, for me, the crux of this picture:
The whole pic will look stooooo-pid if I don’t get this bit right. So I make a light pencil sketch to guide me:
And I hold my breath as I begin to paint the leaves, and to not paint the stuff that doesn’t need painting. Less is More. You can quote me on that:
NOW I can heave a sigh of relief. The negative space looks OK:
And then I go back to holding my breath:
And NOW I can heave another sigh of relief:
Add some upper left hand corner leaves, dab in some lower left hand corner foreground stuff, and then we are DONE …
… DONE …
And yes, Dear Readers, this Squint can be YOURS. I’ll even throw in the reference photograph, ALL FOR YOU.
Because of bad planning on my part, and because of normal, yearly, and annoyingly inconvenient data up-dating of this blog (I think it’s called “backing up”), I can not offer this Squint up for giving away this week. Also, your Comment to this post might take a day or two to appear…
…I apologize for this technical glitch but please be assured that your Comment today will be received, and will be in the queue, and will indeed be published, eventually, for the amusement and edification of others, and that your Comment will AUTOMATICALLY qualify you for the contest I will hold NEXT WEEK.
I do hope I have made this incredibly complicated for one and all.
The Comments will close, as they usually do, after 5 days from publication of this post (to deter spam), so Comment Early! And often!
These Squints are fun. We should do this again, real soon.
Have a GREAT penultimate September Summer weekend, everyone!