I spent the last 6 weeks of 2014 completing commissions that were for giving at Christmas. The most challenging of my commissions is The Old Jail in Waxahachie - a beautifully restored building that is now privately owned by a law firm. The following images are brief documentations of 3 stages of completion.
This is the final drawing of the building. With watercolor, the artist does not have the luxury of being able to "wipe off" mistakes or paint over a passage to make any changes. An experienced watercolorist can make minor changes but for the most part, once a stroke of paint is applied, it's difficult to change after it dries. At the onset, the original drawing is critical and requires a lot of "adjustments" in the process - erasing & re-drawing. I use tracing paper because it erases easily and if I decide to completely change the composition, I can trace parts of the drawing I want to keep onto a new sheet of paper.
After I completed the drawing, I transferred it onto a sheet of 300 lb. Arches watercolor paper. To make the transfer, I use a "wax-free" graphite paper - an artist's "carbon paper". I place the graphite sheet between the watercolor paper and the drawing (on the tracing paper), then tape the tracing paper drawing in 2 or 3 places to keep it from "shifting" during the transfer process. In the above photo, you can see my photo reference displayed on a 22" computer monitor. I refer to the photo reference during the painting process mainly for accuracy of color and building details.
This photo shows the initial layer of color; I painted the sky first then base colors of the brick & roof. and established the shape of the trees, adding the top of the courthouse "peeking" through. (the courthouse is actually a block away). From this point on, through to completion, I work all areas of the painting independently.
The Old Jail - 12 x 12 Watercolor
The above photo is the completed painting. By comparing it to the previous image, you can see that I deepened values as much as 50 to 75% more in areas to offset the light values in the trees, building, and shadows. The only area remaining untouched from the very beginning is the sky. Throughout the painting, laying in washes of stronger values suggesting a light source of sunshine in a bright blue Texas sky.
I delivered the painting to my client a few days before Christmas...and she said it was perfect...especially with the little "surprise" of the courthouse peeking through the trees. I love my job!