My featured image shows my latest watercolour, about 98% complete. At this stage, the main colours are black and blue … not forgetting the light brown wash across the lower foreground.
Is there more to this scene than you’d think?
The painting shows a street scene that you might think is unremarkable. And it is, mostly. There’s a gent in a suit, overcoat and cap crossing the road, in front of traffic which has stopped at a junction.
But the way I look at it, there are two things that really lift the scene out of the ordinary.
First, the street that we’re looking into is in deep shadow. The ‘other street’, which intersects the first street, runs downhill from right to left and just happens to be filled with sunlight. This creates a striking difference between the light and dark areas – something which we artists call tonal contrast. I’ve then given extra emphasis to the tonal contrast by adding some colour contrast to it: cool blues in the shadowed background, warm brown for the foreground roadway.
Second, there’s the figure of the man, caught mid-stride. He’s the only element in the scene that’s in motion. The vans and cars are have stopped. The man’s head is down, because the sun’s in his eyes. All the same, he’s hurrying forward, determined to get across the junction before the lights change. I liked the shape he made. Plus, he’s right on the edge of the shadow zone, which helps to make him stand out.
Another element I liked was the ladders strapped to the top of the Ford van. They’re a fascinating collection of shapes. Coincidentally, the van on the right also has ladders on top.
Now, here’s the final version. Completing the painting didn’t take much. To the blues, blacks and browns, I simply added other colours. There are hints of orange, red and pink, a few touches of yellow, the man’s skin tones. The title is “Crossing”.