Resolving an Incubating Painting

watercolor 22 x 30 inches
After sitting quietly covered in a corner of my studio for almost 9 months, I have finally resolved and finished the complex painting, “Yellow.”

I have been preparing for another workshop to be given to the Sierra Watercolor Society this coming week. Intense preparation work such as I have been doing for the last several days triggers deeply anchored urges to paint. Making visual aids and pulling already painted examples together is an almost mindless task. When I moved the cover aside and discovered this painting still waiting (yes, discovered is the right word. I had nearly forgotten it.) for me to resolve the problems. I pulled it out of it’s hiding place and looked at it. Suddenly the solution struck me: It was that relationship thing again. Colors and values had gotten away from me! There was so many parts in this painting that, while needed to support the overall idea, their relationships to each other had to be revised.

The buildings and banners against the large wall had to drop back in aerial perspective and required much closer value intervals ( less contrast.) The purity of the color of the middle ground had to be preserved in order to hold the eye. The yellows needed to ‘yelp’ but had to also fit with the rest of the painting. The signal in the upper right corner was too distracting and had to be toned down, yet brought forward. Shadows needed darkening and an overall value pattern / composition had to be established.

With the help of a violet gray glaze over some areas, shadow darkening in places, a little bit of judicious lifting, edge softening and refining and tonality adjustments in some of the yellows, the eye moves through the painting in a very predictable and satisfying way. There is balance in the piece now and a sense of belonging of all the parts. This one was a tuffy!! (At least, I think so now . . . . maybe it will be different in a month or so.)

16 thoughts on “Resolving an Incubating Painting”

  1. Hey, Mike…
    Astounding! And it must be so satisfying for you… The whole thing just came together: Light direction was established solidly; some “yellow” moved into the shadows; figures moved forward. Bang! Terrific accomplishment!

  2. i’m guessing the lower one is ure “newer” version? since the traffic light in the corner is less noticable etc..i was hoping it is, because i love the second has that pop! the yellow of the cabs stands out and i love that violet glaze on the bldgs.

    i myself need to learn to edit better, so i enjoyed reading about ure thought process.

    also thx for ure kind comments:)
    a kool gal i am;)i think:s

  3. Hi Mike….I am not so sure lower one is an Improvement. It is much more ‘expected’, a great painting, BUT the top one , the more yellow one, is ‘unexpected’ more fun , not quite so ‘right’
    more ‘creative’

    I have been enjoying your blog.

  4. Astounding??? Well, Hank, it’s good to have you in the comment gallery. You certainly spark things to higher level.


  5. There are some tonal changes in the lighting for both pix . . .not sure why, but I think you can see where those changes have had their effect. The paint didn’t do it all, Elizabeth. Thanks for coming by!

  6. Actually, Mira . . there isn’t a yellow glaze on the bldgs . . .it is the photo lighting used in the first photo session.

    Yes, you are a cool gal!

  7. Mike, your thought process is so interesting and I love the final painting.

    I also found the first one very intriguing and Ellen’s comment is thought provoking. Now I would have no idea how to accomplish your goals while staying with yellow, but you surely would, if you want to go there.

    Happy workshop days!

  8. A perfect solution, Mike! I love to see the contrast between stages and you certainly hit on the right strategy to make this painting come alive. Very strong composition. Kudos! – Kathy

  9. Hi Mike ……. I appreciate you comments about my comments and checking out my blogspot. There is an ongoing battle in my head about using colors combinations I like vs. the strong words about what is “right and acceptable”. Only on my best days can I paint the tree blue and the sky red. I am watching your persistent search for the creative and yet pleasing expression…………….. Ellen

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