California Home 1 – 15″ x 11″ watercolor on paper
Can you tell I’m in the middle of a very experimental try-anything phase? Well, I am. I absolutely love the California school paintings of the 30s through 50s, as I’ve mentioned here before, so today I thought I’d try something in that style.
Last year, on a trip to Capistrano, I took this picture of a bougainvillea vine climbing over a wall onto what seemed to be a carport or something undefined. I liked the vine but I wanted it to be part of a larger scene – not just a big pink sprawling mass. I might still paint it again in oil or pastel, but that’s another story.
So, today, while letting the Alverno villa color study percolate in the back of my head, I took out my sketchbook and explored some other ways the vine could be part of an imaginary scene. I invented a cottage for the vine to crawl on, and made the fence lower so it could be seen.
This was one of several value sketches I did, mapping out different shapes that I thought might work.
I scanned that drawing and brought it into Photoshop CS, where I experimented with different colors in different layers. To make the fuchsia-red flowers pop I looked for a complement for the cottage roof – a blue-green. I picked analogous colors for the other trees and shrubs in the scene.
When I got it roughly sketched on the paper, I discovered that I had too much room to the right with nothing going on, so I drew in an old clothesline and tucked it behind a hedge because I didn’t want the fence to run full wide right off the page. And … I liked the allusion to an time before labor-saving devices, and the sun and breeze that it implies. I suspect that there are a couple of little kids playing with a floppy-eared dog in that back yard. Don’t you think? That shrubby background became a place to insert a couple of squabbling birds – geese or ducks, your guess.
So there’s the evolution of a California dream from a long-gone era and I hope you found the journey to its completion interesting. I’ll be putting this in my ebay store, tomorrow probably.