Arched garden walkway De Lovie. Watercolour on hot pressed paper. Alizarine Crimson and Forest Green. 9″ x 12′ or 23 x 30 cm.
About a month ago, out near Westvleteren, we stumbled across a large domain called De Lovie (nice name, eh?). The whole area is run by a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children, youths and adults who have mental handicaps. But besides the buildings dedicated to such assistance, a large part of the domain actually contains a beautiful heritage castle, its memorial chapel and landscaping including a lake and English garden. John snapped a photo of the main promenade to the castle with its dappling light. The haloed effect in such a simple, one point perspective piqued my interest, so I decided to try to render it within the circle motif.
The main challenge really was how to render the highlights. In watercolour, this actually doesn’t mean rendering the highlights but rather allowing the white of the paper to (strategically) shine through. In the past I’ve experimented with latex masking fluid, but for anyone who has actually tried it, you realise very quickly how difficult it is to control. Large areas are possible – at the cost of your increasingly clogged and ultimately useless paint brush. Fine details however are not. But recently I discovered a product that dispenses the masking fluid through a very fine, narrow tube, creating a very fine, thin line. Ha! So, after washing in the starting golden circle and laying in the composition, I used my new handy-dandy dispenser pen to block out various areas of highlights quickly and playfully. It was better than a brush but even so, still difficult to control. After everything dried I began to lay in my washes, wet-in-wet.
I had already decided to use just a two colour, complimentary palette, so washes of Forest Green were matched up against washes of Alizarine Crimson. I knew this approach would also allow for chromatic changes within the golden circle, but that would be out of my control. Nice! The washes went quickly and quite well, though I couldn’t really see what I had. After they had dried I rubbed off the latex. The results were stunning! – at least from a light point-of-view – even though it was also immediately clear that I still had a lot of form to recover/describe. Thus, a few hours of open brushwork gave me the basics, but it took another week of diligent searching/reclaimation to discribe the overall formal coherence.
I’m pretty pleased with the result. The latex itself creates hard edged highlights. So I really like how the strong highlights of the cross branches in the foreground stand out. Compositionally, they mitigate too, against the centrifugal pull of the circle and the walkway’s halo. The foliage, too, has nice hard edges. Still, I’d prefer that the dappled spots on the ground were a bit softer. Sigh. That gives me something to work on for next time. 😉