Friday, March 16, 2012

Na Pali Coast from the Kalalau Valley: a start

I start by making a sketch with watercolor pencils.  That way the pencil marks will be washed away by the watercolor as I paint.  I used to be terrible at drawing.  I had to draw a light grid on my paper and a matching grid on my photograph, then try to sketch what was within each square on the grid.  Erasing the grid was always difficult, but critical to fooling people into thinking that I could draw!  I also used a projector and many other drawing aids. 
The good news is that, even with aids, the more you draw, the better you get.  So now I use a variation on the grid method: I fold the photo into 16 squares and I put dots on the drawing paper where the corners of the squares would be.   Then I draw the main lines of what I see in each square and VOILA! a rough outline of the scene appears.
A photo like this has a million details and I need to choose only the few that will make it to the final painting.  The lines of the mountains, the two waterfalls, the tiny bit of surf, the places where Kauai's famous red-brown dirt shows, and of course a suggestion of the foliage.  Some on the right above the waterfalls is almost a lemon yellow.  The tips of the bushes in the foreground are a slightly golder yellow.  The bushes are represended on the drawing merely with little circles showing where the yellow tips fall.
The background is unusual in that the sea has fog in the distance and no horizon shows.  I put in some dotted blue lines to give me a clue as to where the blue and the white meet, but I think I will need to erase 90% of those lines or they will show thru the painting.
Nan Henke
Texas Hill Country Art
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