Practicing the Gesture

“Bordeaux Promenade”
watercolor, 15 x 22 inches (practice only)
While in Bordeaux this last summer, I was fascinated with scenes like this. There is a football field sized slab of concrete like this near the town center. Inside the slab are valves and jets that spew steam and water and fountain-like spouts all day long. Adults and children alike are drawn to this place as its visual magic changes every ten minutes. Reflections and different configurations of water in its vapor or liquid states make for endless entertainment. In the summer, when it is warm, people gather there to cool off and simply stroll and / or play. I have 50 photos of the activity there and wish I had taken more.

This image is practice piece for one on which I wish to embark soon. It is all too tempting paint the ‘details’ . . .but they are not what make this painting an interesting possibility. It is the glare, distortions and reflections. So, given that, the challenge is to make it interesting by only using the gesture of the brush rather than belaboring details. This practice experiment is to flex my gestural muscles a bit before tackling a big painting of the subject. Prior to putting the figure shapes into this painting, I spent some time practicing making the gestures which suggested people and reflections with a one inch flat brush. Lots of twisting the brush, using edges and corners etc to bring about the feel I was after. The practice helped a lot . . .and shows me where I need to put my best efforts in the upcoming painting. This is a challenge that will keep me occupied for a few weeks. . . . .and will build more skills.

Does that skill building aspect of being an artist ever end? I hope not!

10 thoughts on “Practicing the Gesture”

  1. I look forward to see what you do with this idea. I, too, have tons of photos of this fabulous “fountain” but haven’t figured out the magic solution to painting it.

  2. Mike, Love this “practice painting”!!..Put a frame on it man!! This is a winner!!

    Can’t wait to see what you do with this subject…really, the composition here, with the buildings in the background and the movement of the gestured figures with their reflections is very engaging…

    Merry Christmas Mike!!

  3. Mike, ooh you’ve captured so much with so little. what an amazing skill. thanks for sharing your experiences and insights. I learn a lot from reading your blog and look forward to lots more great stuff in 2009!! Holly

  4. Thanks for the comment Mike,
    But you know you’re responsible for my blogging at all! Did you notice I have a live visual feed of your latest blog posts on my blog sidebar? Therefore, I’ll know exactly when you do get back to work. This blogging is fun because it’s a little like a diary. I would like to put on a slide show like Myrna but have not gotten that far.

    In your opinion, does the flat gray background on my blog work OK? I tend to like neutrals when it come to displaying art. But I notice there are so many other templates and colors – some very busy, others very interesting. Yours is the latter.

    Look forward to reading more from you Mike

  5. Hi Everyone!

    Sorry I haven’t been on the ball this holiday season. Here it is mid January and I am just getting back to the studio to execute this idea. It seems I need to rev up the motor again.

    Thanks to you all for your great encouraging words.

  6. these two paintings are lovely ,Also waiting for your bicycle.
    One suggestion..Use the plain backdrop for your blog,the dots are bit of disturbence and if you can increase the fontsize a bit..I gotta get my reading glasses soon.

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