When You Fall Off a Horse…

Yesterday’s experiment did not go as I planned. I am thrilled that some found it to be charming (my wife, and Jann at AustinDetails.me).  I do appreciate that point of view, but my intention was not to portray ‘charming’, so in that respect, I could have done better.

The axiom about getting back on the horse after you’ve been thrown is the basis of my watercolor study today.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I had another go at portraying the parking lot today. I used a second photograph from a slightly different angle as my reference.  I made notes where I ran into problems yesterday (see Sketching Problems post) and corrected them in today’s painting.


First, I used a watercolor block, where all four edges of the paper are secured. With this setup, the edges of the paper do not curl nor does surface warping occur when the paper is wet or even soaked.

I made a light sketch of the entire scene (with an HB pencil) on my 9×12 inch block. Then I switched to a softer 2B pencil and made dark outlines of the prominent figures, particularly those that formed the skyline. By doing this I made sure I could still see the skyline after washing the entire top part of the paper with the grayish neutral tint.

I did not use a larger format paper , so I still need to explore the idea of ‘scaling up’ my compositions.

I painted in the sky first, so that the clouds would be uninterrupted by the figures in the foreground. I blotted up some of the gray to form the clouds and also tried to remove as much of the gray as I could that covered the skyline figures.

The remainder of the painting reinforced the pencil lines that formed the cars, tree branches and buildings that comprised this composition.

Here is the reference photograph:

Digital Photograph: Parking Lot #2

Here is my composition:

Watercolor: Parking Lot #2

Parking Lot #2
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I proved to myself that I could start with an idea of a composition and preserve that idea in its execution. I am happy about that.  That being said, I could have improved the outcome by increasing the range of tonal values, adding more darks to the sky and the cars in the foreground.

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