Watercolor Rescue and Other Tales of Woe (One, Actually; One Tale of Woe).

If you recall, last week I was so smitten with this photograph of an old coal mine in Yorkshire (Halifax, to be exact) . . . 

. . .  that I painted it.

The problem is that it wasn’t until I saw this watercolor up here on the computer machine that I  realized that I hated it. It’s a horrible painting. Thank you to all you Dear Readers who said nice things about this painting, but LOOK AT IT! It doesn’t capture the drama or the awesome compositional oomph of the photograph, which has a lot of dark and light shadow play and has four very strong diagonals that criss-cross the whole picture plane from side to side.  

For my own peace of mind I had to draw the angles of the tower that I couldn’t see in the photo.

So we’re going to rescue it today. By starting over from scratch.

But this time, I have a new strategy. As you see, the background of this photo has a lot of detail and, as it depicts an actual place (in Halifax, Yorkshire, England) all those details have to be in precise place. So I put the photo on a grid:

And when I drew my pencil guide-lines for my watercolor, I also put in a grid:

I started with the sky, same as I did last week:

But as you can see, it was shitty. So I started over  again, but this time I had a new  strategy (this painting is all about new strategies and how they can make your life easier make your paintings better).

For Sky #2, I been by painting the whole sky area with my favorite China white paint:

I’m making my life easier by tapping off the edges of this picture so I don’t have to bother with “staying in the lines”.

I like using white paint because it does strange things when you put wet colored paint on top of it. Also, I had an idea that I wanted to let the paper and the water and the paint do its thing, rather than having me “paint”, because I like watercolors that look like water and color.

I did very little “painting” here (below) and instead  let the paint groove with the layer of what paint under it, and I think I finally captured some luminance :

P.S. I had to put masking fluid on the tower, too, while I painted the sky.

Using the grid, I can check my position in the painting with the corresponding grid cell in the photograph, and will be able to paint the background details more accurately than in my first attempt where, to tell the truth, I often got lost:

I’m using masking fluid to add texture to the middle ground bushes:

While I’m working with so much green paint, I’m going to protect my beautiful sky with a sheet of tracing paper because I tend to drop a lot of blobs of paint or water while I paint:


P.S. At some point while working on this, I did drop a little blob of green paint onto my unprotected sky and my heart stopped, but I was able to lift up and cover it up with white paint so that you can’t see it…WHEW.

OK, for the foreground of yellow “weeds”, I’ve used a new strategy. I dipped a brand new toothbrush into masking fluid and I flicked it onto the lower third of this painting (sorry, I didn’t take photos of this because I needed both hands for flicking). I wanted a more random pattern to the weeds here, and by flicking the masking fluid I was able to get that randomness and also little teeny tiny drops onto the paper:





There in the foreground, this is what it looked like BEFORE I lifted off some of the masking fluid off it.

I’ve lifted the masking  fluid off to this small bit of foreground because I was dying to see how this turned out:

I like how the masking fluid worked here!

I painted in some green and darker yellow to add  depth and variety to the weeds:

Now I lift off the masking fluid from the foreground:

Touch up:




I removed the tape so the top edges curled up.

Compare to last week’s painting:

So now that I’ve done my good deed for the week, let’s see what mischief the rest  of America has been up to.  

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who on August 25, 2020, packed  a gun and travelled fromAntioch, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin to look for trouble at a Black Lives matter protest , is on trial for shooting three protestors, killing two and injuring one.


The judge, Bruce Schroeder, is an asshole:


The Charleston church shooting was a mass shooting on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine African Americans were killed by a scrawny piece of shit white supremacist during  Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

President Biden is trying to pass a major piece of domestic legislation:


President Biden went to Rome to meet the leaders of the G20 and to talk with the pope, via the Vatican’s  translator:

I don’t have anything good to say about the pope, or about religion in general because: 





But as long as we’ve brought Trump into the discussion . . . 




Remember Jenna Ryan, the dip shit Trumper from Texas?


This gives me hope for the future:

As of Nov. 1, 691 people have been charged with crimes relating to the January 6 insurrection, but they’ve all been low-level rioters. So far, none of the ring leaders have been  charged.


But maybe we have other problems besides a political minority that is itching for another civil war…namely, we might soon have a revolution on our hands:





Now for some GOOD NEWS:

By the way, this is the fire that the cat survived:


Here is a sample of the “poetry” that nurse Steve Shurden wrote:

Their jabbing all arms, now we may need a booster

They came too late, to fool this savy rooster.

“Their”…”savy”…do they let just anyone be a nurse these days? His wife is still very proud of her Christian husband, who died to own the libs. 

Whenever a Trumper dies of Covid, a golden retriever gets a moment of zen:






















Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. I hope you take the moral of today’s post — it’s  never to late to start over and make things better — and give yourself a do-over if you need it. And you have some BFFs in the same boat, friends who could use a rescue, you might want to turn this journey  to redemption into a road trip:





5 Comments, RSS

  1. Judy Jennings

    Oh Vivian, I simply can’t believe your second painting; I truly thought that your first one was perfect. The second is so much more brilliant, the contrast amazing, the sky’s atmosphere perfect. I wouldn’t have BELIEVED without seeing…. Love it.
    (Dying to see your hair, too. I totally understand your “grief.” I’ve worn a wedge for 25+ years, and strangers used to stop me and ask who my stylist was, but now I’ve been chopping on it myself for almost 2 years, and I’m just sick over it. Still don’t want to go out though…..)

  2. Kirra

    Wow!! The second painting really is better but I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t showed us how you changed it. Hope your haircut has been equally well rescued!

    Thank you for the cats too.

  3. I like both of the paintings, honestly, but I can see how the detail in the middle-ground of the second one is much better. (Among other things.)

    Your map of the 2020 election if only people under 45 voted is very interesting. I was just saying on another blog that Republican extremism is a death rattle — it’s basically all these older, working class people who realize they are losing in the grand scheme of things because the demographics of the country are changing and younger people tend to be better educated and vote more liberally. Of course, it will be interesting to see if those people’s voting habits change as they age!

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