Almost Black and White
The table tops were pink, the stone wall was a golden yellow ocher color, and the stone floor was a pale Naples yellow, but at noon, it all became black and white. Only the trees and bushes retained some of their color. The quick sketch I did of the outdoor dining area at our Antigua resort shows the bleaching effect of the noon-day sun and the patterns made by the shadows.
You can see the pink of the tabletop in the painting I did of a small black bird getting ready to take a sip from one of the glasses on the table.
Since the colors are visible, this table, obviously, was in the shade, although still brightly lit by the indirect sunlight. (The fact that the table was set and people had been sitting at it also says it was in the shade; it was way too hot to sit in the direct sunlight.)
I’m working on a larger painting of the Shadows sketch which will be still fairly representational. Maybe when that’s done, I’ll try a more abstract version just emphasizing the shadow patterns … a little like the progression (from representational to abstract) I described in my last blog.
The Spaces Between
I know I talked about the wonderful colors in Antigua, but somehow it’s the quality of the light that has been captivating me lately. Specifically, it’s the way the strong Caribbean sun bleaches everything out and delivers the world almost in black and white.
I took a few pictures of some trees silhouetted against the ocean by the noon-day sun. I’ve now done about five or six sketches, two small ones done with ink and watercolor to try and capture the intense contrast between light and dark, focusing on the spaces between the trees.
They are very similar, but illustrate nicely how watercolor delivers different results even when you’re trying to do roughly the same thing.
I liked the composition, so I did a much larger sketch. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the result, so I narrowed my focus and tried again. And again I didn’t like the result. Two more tries later, I finally had something I liked, even though the connection to the original sketches is really tenuous.
What really fascinates me about this is how the painting morphed from something that still resembled the two photos I took in Antigua to this very abstract watercolor that doesn’t look anything like the photos. And yet, all of them are focused on what initially interested me … the spaces between the branches of the trees.
Our recent, unfortunately brief, trip to Antigua, was a vacation where I finally had time to just sit and paint. In between visits to the gym and meals, I got in ten fairly quick sketches.
The colorful homes of Antigua are remarkable: pink and blue, green and orange, mauve and sap green, yellow and green, turquoise and burnt sienna, pink and yellow … The combinations were endless. So, of course, several of my sketches focused on the colors.
This first one was of some kayaks on the beach, waiting for customers.
This next one shows a turquoise and pink building glimpsed briefly on the road from the airport. It was seen so quickly that I was left with a jumbled recollection of telephone poles, signs and, of course, the turquoise and pink of the building.
This last one was of a green and orange house, so bright and cheerful it just jumped right up at you.
Antigua is proving to be quite an inspiration. Based on one of the other sketches, I’ve just put the finishing touches on a larger painting of a little black bird with a red “bib” getting ready to sip scotch from a half empty glass. They were everywhere (the birds, not the half empty glasses of scotch) and very bold. The waitress cleared the table before the bird was able to drink very much, so I still don’t know how a drunken little black bird acts (or flies, for that matter).
And I’ve done five sketches of some trees silhouetted against the ocean, based on two photos I took. While I’m figuring out how to finally make that work, I’ll be doing one of patio tables and chairs bleached out by the noonday sun. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Aren’t vacations wonderful?
My fascination with patterns continues. Now that summer has arrived and city snow (dirty or otherwise) has disappeared, I’m now captivated by other kinds of patterns, specifically rocks, as in rock walls.
Recently at Wave Hill I happened to notice an interesting rock wall along the back of Glyndor House. I’d been pushed out of my normal Wave Hill haunts by the construction going on at Wave Hill House. So the rock wall was a nice discovery.
First, I did a quick watercolor sketch.
Then I tried an ink and watercolor sketch of a smaller section of the wall to try and capture the shapes of the rocks and the spaces between them.
They are both semi abstract (or semi realistic) and I’m not sure which I like better.