Why I don’t like white buildings

Recently, I have noticed that many of the buildings I have drawn are on the colorful side or have a stone facade. I have been thinking about why that is so.  Why do I prefer the color of a boldly painted structure or the stone buildings that I draw? I have noticed that it is much harder for me to feel motivated to render a building that is predominantly white.  I can obviously do it for a commissioned piece, but when selecting my own subjects, it is always low on the list.

When we built our house a few years ago I was determined to not have bland white or light beige walls. I found it to be uninspiring for me and as difficult as it was to choose the proper paint colors, I knew I had to. I remember that the electrician wanted to put in white box covers and I told him “No, white is for people that can’t pick a color.” He laughed and afterwords, when he had put on the beige covers, he agreed that it was better than the white.

I have made this remark to several people, including an interior designer, and after a little thought, many agree that it is the fear of choosing the wrong color that keeps most to the white or very light beige selection.

This is not to say that I would put up a flourescent green or purple color, but that color has more an effect on our lives than we often notice. We know when we like something, or don’t , but usually can’t tell specifically why.

Anyway, back to the artwork. If you look at my galleries you will see lots of buildings with contrast that I hope is pleasingly done. I’ll include today some of my favorite stone and non-white buildings.

Pennsylvania barn

House in the woods

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After Thanksgiving, back to work

California store front

Well, the holiday season has begun.  It is a busy time when everything else competes with studio time.  I have started my next drawing but it is slow going with a lot of distractions.  It is another stone building but of a house this time from the Napa valley.  I have already drawn in with ink and am coloring now.  It will be a mixture of watercolor and pastels and so far seems to be going well.  I want to finish it this week, but who knows.

Because the house is not ready yet, I thought I’d put up some previous work.  The storefront is also from a California trip for a family wedding.  I was listening to my favorite musician, Dan Fogelberg, when I did it and it always makes me think of his music when I look at it.

The tiger drawing came from a visit to the zoo.  He was rather magnificent looking and I was able to take several good pictures as he moved across his enclosure.

Tiger in color

The big buck in the yard

We saw a very large, antlered buck just outside the studio windows last night. He couldn’t have been more than ten feet away, almost standing on the patio’s edge. It’s one of the reasons to live where we do. It was too dark for pictures so you’ll just have to believe me.   And the Christmas cactus in the bathroom seems to think that the holidays have arrived.

A colorful Florida streetscape

This kind of shows the progression of how I do my artwork. I first make a rough pencil sketch with not an over amount of detail. I usually start the pen and ink with the landscaping first since it frames the buildings front and back, and then move on to the windows. I will add a little more pencil detail as I need it, but never put too much on, as I feel it can overwhelm the flow of the portrait. I find that then it can become too harsh and linear and overwhelm softer effect that the color supplies.

As in the pen and ink stage, I like to start with the foliage when I add color – whether it be pastel, colored pencil, or watercolor. I lay appropriate background colors and build from there. Often I will add a little more definition with the ink. Finally, I spray with a permanent fixative. Many artists don’t like to use a fixative, but I do. I love the way the colors all pop and since I have been doing this so many years, I can predict where the color will be deepened and enriched. So pretty and I know the portrait is protected. Hope you like this, too. I do.

The pencil sketch

The pen and ink with a little color started

The finished product

Where watercolor buildings came from

A few years ago, I took a watercolor class with my sister.  I did it mostly to spend time with her since she and her husband had just moved to the area  and get out of the house.  While the class itself wasn’t anything special in terms of new knowledge and skills, I looked at it as enforced artwork time.  I would be creating something one evening a week no matter what else was going on. 

We washed our paper with varying colors and then looked at it to see what appeared.  It is a technique that I adapted later to my pen and ink buildings for use over an initial watercolor wash.  I took one of my photos of an interesting section of a building, made a rough wash, and then quickly inked in the details without rigorous regard for where  the colors actually were.  I like the effect and it is very freeing in terms of my more normally detailed work.  I am thinking of using it on occasion for other things like animal portraiture just for fun.

Red flowers in the watercolor

Blue flowers in the watercolor

New series of artwork

I have decided to start a series of new drawings.  I enjoyed doing the southern streetscape with the colorful buildings and evidently, so do my viewers on etsy.  I have started another one and pulled several pictures of streetscapes with vividly colored storefronts from my backlog of trip photos.  There should be enough for 3 or 4 more pieces without any more thoughts on it.  I find it is easier to get into a flow if the planning is already there and I don’t have to make so many decisions between projects. 

I also pulled some animal pictures to intersperse drawing between the buildings to keep it all fresh.  Besides, my husband likes the animal ones.  I think I will alternate a few of the loose watercolor/pen and ink ones (like below) just because they are fun and mentally freeing. 

I have taken pictures of the initial pencil drawing and then the pen and ink overlay already.  I plan on taking a few shots of the overlay in progress and will post them when I have finished so everyone can see the progression.  I like to take about a day between each phase to let me have a different perspective of the work.  Sometimes I get so involved with the process, it is valuable to step back and look at it with fresh eyes.  A few days after I think I’m done, I look at the artwork again and tweak it if necessary.  One has to know when to stop tweaking, though.  That is often a big decision in and of itself.  If the football games ar crummy today, I will end up back in the studio early.

Here’s the picture

Forgot to insert the picture. Here it is. One of these days I’ll have it all figured out.

watercolor sketch

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