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Capistrano Fence

August 19th, 2006

I have been posting less than usual the past few days because I’ve been trying to get out of my sketchbook and into bigger paintings. I’m hoping to to enter some in our Verdugo Hills society show and sale in the fall. Maybe I’ll be lucky and they’ll accept some for display. At any rate, this is a studio painting based on my own photo taken in Capistrano during our sketchcrawl earlier this year. I did a value study first and then just started painting it without preliminary drawing. It might have turned out differently (or better) if I had done an under-drawing first, but I tend to like to make things up as I go, solving color and value problems as I confront them. My goal here was to try to capture the quality of late afternoon light in a coastal beach community with a tropical feeling. The big tree is most likely a yucca, not a palm.

Because all monitors are different and a compressed picture isn’t as subtle as the real thing, the shadows are blue-violet but not as intense and dark as they may seem here. If the side of the house looks like a muted turquoise, then you’re probably seeing the hue right. The colors look so much better in person, though.

It’s painted on 140 # watercolor paper, and the image size is x 9.75″ x 13.5″ Matted, it would frame to 16 x 20, which is what I’ll do with it when I take it in to the show in the fall. Comments and feedback are very welcome!


  1. NO under-drawing?! *thud* I think it’s fantastic! I love the play of shadow, like around the base of the fence, and the almost hazy look of the distant telephone poles.

    Comment by r.e.wolf — August 19, 2006 @ 8:33 pm
  2. Thanks, Ryan!
    Nope, nothin’ but brush. It’s like solving a jigsaw puzzle only they keep making up new pieces as you go. Ha ha! I saw demos with Frank Francese and Barbara Nechis painting in this sort of freeform style last year at a NWS demonstration workshop and I loved how they had the freedom to invent as they painted. I do that frequently in my sketchbook, but now I’m trying to do it bigger.

    Comment by Karen — August 19, 2006 @ 10:42 pm
  3. I think you certainly achieved what you set out to do. It’s lovely Karen. Something to be proud of. :o )

    Comment by Terri — August 19, 2006 @ 10:57 pm
  4. I agree with r.e., Karen, I really like those shadows along the fence and road, and the blend of colors is lovely. I think that if I ever learned to work without an underpainting, I would love the freedon, too.

    Comment by Ann Fortenberry — August 20, 2006 @ 4:04 am
  5. yea Karen!
    so glad to see you painting for a show. Looks fantastic!
    Might I suggest deepening the shadows across the fence for more contrast.
    Also add a dark line along one edge of the fence where it turns the corner to
    give it some more dimension. Like you did with the shadow on the roof line.
    and a few cast shadows in the yucca tree/plant

    Comment by Toni — August 20, 2006 @ 4:14 am
  6. AWESOME, Karen!! It so reminds me of Folly Island, SC — beach homes and sandy streets, green foliage — gorgeous!!! Yep, tropical and so summer!

    Comment by lin — August 20, 2006 @ 4:44 am
  7. Thanks everyone.
    Toni, thanks for the ideas, they’re good ones and I appreciate it. It is a bit contrasty-er in real life – darn jpegging – so much gets lost in compression unless you save at max quality and that makes a 400k file size instead of 100k or less.
    Were you suggesting darkening the shadow along the facing side of the fence or as it turns down the street?

    Comment by Karen — August 20, 2006 @ 6:27 am
  8. Karen, this is lovely–vivid and peaceful all at the same time. Both your comments on EDM and your work are very helpful to me, a beginner in watercolor and re-newbie in pencil. Thanks! Sarah

    Comment by Sarah Campbell — August 20, 2006 @ 6:48 am
  9. Thanks, Sarah, I’m glad it’s helpful

    Comment by Karen — August 20, 2006 @ 7:06 am
  10. As usual another wonderful watercolor…I want to move into that house…is it for sale?!:>

    Comment by Margaret McCarthy Hunt — August 20, 2006 @ 7:45 am
  11. I think I like this the best of the paintings so far! Kind of lost that top corner in the scan, or maybe it just fades off… I Love the feeling of this with the fence an little peice of the house. It captures the essences
    of a small S. Calif town so nicely! Let us know what happens with the show.

    Comment by Tami — August 20, 2006 @ 8:12 am
  12. Maggie – I think it would be a lovely cottage to live in, too!

    Tami – the top corner is lighter than the rest but the photo probably doesn’t do it justice, and it’s too big to scan unfortunately.

    Comment by Karen — August 20, 2006 @ 8:35 am
  13. Definitely *show-worthy* Karen. I love what you’ve done with the yellow/gold in the sky and the soft purples in the whites for shadows. Just lovely. Great work. You GO, GIRL!

    Comment by NelVanL — August 20, 2006 @ 8:49 am
  14. WOWEE!!!! Gorgeous! It just shines and glows with light. Absolutely love it!

    Comment by TeriC — August 20, 2006 @ 9:26 am
  15. Karen, this is a fantastic painting! I love the way you saved the whites and then shaded over it, like on the fence. Btw, the side of the house is a light turquios and the shadows are just right in tone! DEE

    Comment by Dee Johnson — August 20, 2006 @ 1:46 pm
  16. This painting has a gentle quality about it, peaceful, and a painting that would wear well in someone’s home so I hope you can sell it. The composition too is fine with less focus on some areas. Don’t change it – don’t fiddle with it!

    Comment by wendy — August 20, 2006 @ 2:37 pm
  17. Stunning!! Wonderful work!

    Comment by shelly mcc — August 20, 2006 @ 5:04 pm
  18. This painting is fantastic! It has a very warm feel to it. Boy, what I wouldn’t give to be somewhere like that right now!

    Comment by Fae — August 20, 2006 @ 7:16 pm
  19. The light and shadow are just right. I love the color scheme and composition. It’s a really interesting painting that makes me want to keep looking.

    Comment by Jana Bouc — August 20, 2006 @ 11:33 pm
  20. Karen, sorry it took so long to get back.
    you wrote “Were you suggesting darkening the shadow along the facing side of the fence or as it turns down the street?”

    A little of both. deepen the shadows a bit that fall across the front of the fence
    and create a shadow along the boards of the fence where it turns down the street.
    the latter will help define the turning of the fence. I hope you don’t mind me leaving this kind of a comment for you.
    Your work is fantasic and I have been enjoying watching everyone grow in the art work.

    Comment by Toni — August 21, 2006 @ 5:43 am
  21. Thanks, Toni, your suggestions are very welcome, as are everyone’s. I’ll give those ideas a lot of consideration as I finalize it for the show. It helps to have extra sets of eyes looking at it fresh.

    Comment by Karen — August 21, 2006 @ 9:07 am
  22. Karen — this is lovely! I like Toni’s suggestions, but I didn’t notice what she was talking about until I went back to the painting and took a hard look. :-) In particular, I really like the upper right bit of vague shapes and light — so soft and warm! And I think it’s high time you entered something in a show (am surprised that you haven’t before!), so, you go, girl!

    Comment by Linda — August 21, 2006 @ 1:08 pm
  23. I love this, I love this, it is a FINE painting Karen.

    Comment by clare — August 21, 2006 @ 2:16 pm
  24. Linda and Clare, thanks. I’d really like to sell this puppy so I’m hoping that the show will give me an incentive in that direction. I have about five more to do based on the inspiration of that little street, so it should be interesting to do.

    Comment by Karen — August 21, 2006 @ 2:38 pm
  25. I love the soft summery feel here, the colours are beautiful. You’ll have no trouble selling this for sure!

    Comment by Felicity — August 23, 2006 @ 1:18 am
  26. Wow, this is great! :)

    Comment by Wendee — August 23, 2006 @ 11:54 pm

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