Zooming in and out Can Help Artwork

Admittedly this quick plein air sketch isn’t "oh so wonderful" but it’s lessons are. Remember our best lessons come from our struggles.


“The Tall Yellow House” available, 8x10 pastel (The verticals are vertical in the actual painting, sorry, bad picture).

I am not a fan of urban-scapes. My work is informed by nature and the farmlands that I grew up around. When faced with urban scenes I must figure out how to make them more interesting to me. Zooming in is one way I try to create angles and geometric intersections oh color values. About two years ago I did a series of buildings where all I did was paint the shapes and shadows that the roof, gables, and sections of the building had. The building's details were of more interest to me than the building as a whole. Once again I found that to be the case while in Nashville, Indiana last week.




Sketches Sort Out Why I Liked this Building

My plein air setup is much like my studio work I work from the simplified sketch in the easel more than the actual scene. What you can’t see under the color wheel is a sketch where the street scene includes way more space in the foreground and a broad sky. There was even a strip of the grass between the sidewalk and street in the first sketch.


By the end I had even zoomed in closer, eliminating the scrubs and small yard strip. The sketch eliminated the trees and buildings in the background. I liked the narrow vertical building in a horizontal space and wanted to see if I could capture both the angles and shadows and the narrowness of the yellow house shooting upward.

What I Learned

  • I learned more about myself than about handling materials in this one. Urban scenes offer me shapes, not scenes

  • The first sketch I try to do what I see: maybe I should focus more on what I feel and why I feel something attacks me more than starting by recording what I see first

  • An earlier post talked about what we all can learn from children and how we tend to teach them to do what is expected rather than what they want to do: I found myself thinking, "What I want to do isn't how others would paint this, why can't I paint a townscape like others do?" While this isn't anything great, I am happier knowing I did what I wanted to do and didn't give into the feeling I had to treat this in an accepted manner as others might.


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Avon Waters
Modern Artist