Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I once had a discussion with my sister about why it is I don't "paint a bunch" of a painting that I've done that I really like. Her thought was that since I was the one who painted it I should be able to duplicate the painting stroke by stroke. It is a beautiful theory. But it is just a theory. Right before I packed up the shop amd moved everything into storage I did some studies to practice with some new watercolor pigments. And, I did pears.... it was easy. The pears were on the counter so...

You can see that there are some very obvious differences in the two pears. The colors and composition are the same. And really that is all that you can hope for. The reason for this is that watercolors are done with layers of washes and the water will never run the same way twice. And depending on your energy level and how physically ready to work you body is, you will never move your brush in exactly the same way twice.

Look at the background of the two pictures. The upper right corner of the large one is streaked and the overall shape in the corner retains a strong suggestion of wood panel which is what I was going for. You can also see that there are distinct variations in the colors of the dioxizine wash with the deepest wash remaining at the buttom. In the smaller version the colors ran so much that there is little variation and the vertical lines disappeared. In this one the background has the same curvaceous quality as the subject itself. The smaller one loses some dynamic qualities as a result.

Now look at the lower right corner of each in the foreground. In the large one the foreground is so blurred and the variations are so indistinct that it loses focus and allows your eye to travel along the lines of the pear toward the stem without really hesitating or confusing your brain as to where it should look first. This was intentional. I intended that the same should be true in the smaller one. But it did not work that way. The brush strokes and paper were both too dry to achieve the desired effect.

In the midground of each, you see the shadow worked itself differently. In the large painting the shadow is a sharp and soft edged puddle of deep color. In the small one, the shadow is all sharp edges and rather uniform in its medium shades.

Then look at the shape of the pools of colors in the pears themselves. Each one worked out differently even though I did the same layers of colors in the same order. The smaller pear has a deep rounded sharp edge to segment the wide and narrow parts. The large pear is rather indistinct in this regard so even though we read it as a pear it does read a little less rounded and somewhat flat sided there. The stems are also different.

The one I like the best? The first one. The large pear. Why? Because the only thing that really detracts from the composition is that softer  edge between the wide and narrow globes of the pear body. The pools of color are more defined... but I can take a wet brush and calm some of those edges even now. It is a more dynamic composition than the smaller one.

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