Commercial Streetscape in Watercolor

What attracts me to this scene in Kingston, New York is the cluster of poles and wires next to the sign, and the delicate details of the far distance.

Transparent watercolor is fast and direct. I also like watercolor because it makes gradations easier, and the accidental variations and textures seem to work in my favor for this scene.

I limit the colors to a blue / brown gamut, disregarding greens and reds. I want to keep the lights light and the darks dark like a high contrast photo.


(Link to video on Facebook) This video takes you through the process. Note that I first wet the surface with clear water before applying the ghost wash. There are a few white gouache touches at the end.

On Facebook, Linda Navroth asks: “It’s cool to watch you use gouache like oils – building up layers. How do you choose your scene? Sometimes at first they look quite unremarkable, but by the time you’re done, it’s always something special. Do you sense that quality when you start or is it imbued with some sort of “Gurney Magic” during the process?”
The first requirement was shade, because it was so hot. Second was the contre-jour angle toward the light. Beyond that I felt the view had minimal prospects. And I had very low expectations about my painting from the beginning to the end of the process. 

There’s no Gurney Magic, but there is a procedure that I trust. To paraphrase photographer “William Eggleston when asked why he photographs mundane things, I would say ‘I paint things to see what they look like painted.’ Route 9W seems to be my Briar Patch, my Kuerner’s Farm. That unloved stretch of highway always attracts me. I know that artistic gems are hidden there that I have a chance of finding if I just set up and start painting, with the meter of my mind tuned midway between doubt and confidence.

By: Gurney Journey
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries
Source: http://j.mp/2MVwjBu

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