In the sketch of the Chinese temple with the women doing their laundry in the water sluices, I penciled in the details lightly as usually. After painting in the mountains in the background with venetian red, I washed in the warm shadow masses with a burnt sienna. While this was still wet, I blended in the blues and greens along the base of these shadow areas, allowing the blues to blend upward. This is particularly noticeable on the face of the main temple wall in the shadow cast by the overhang of the eaves. When done quickly, this device gives a crisp, sun-shiny effect and makes a picture sparkle. Next I floated the blue sky in, washing it right over the mountain, leaving a few small spots for the red earth of China to come through, and causing the mountain to recede.
While this was drying, the greens were added--first on the grass and later the trees and shrubs. The figures were blocked in with light burnt sienna and blue blending into each other according to the way the sunlight affected them. The various small details were added--the stone masonry, windows, tile roof, the dragons on the roof of the temple, and the darker areas of burnt sienna in the walls and shadow areas. The yellow ochre in the wall to the right of the picture was added and finally a light wash of burnt umber was floated over the whole courtyard area, pointing it up with a little added color to give texture where necessary. The dark final blacks were left for the last to give the painting solidity.
Sometimes a picture "just happens." The small sketch of the wedding procession was one of these lucky accidents. I was working on a small sketch of something or other and heard the noise of bells and cymbals behind me. I turned to pages of my sketch book and started to make some small rapid notes of the scene before the people disappeared - and before I had any idea of what or how the picture was to be executed, the sketch was actually finished. I was very lucky that I did not attempt to "clean it up" or add anything. This was, I feel one of my finest sketches. When these things happen to you, don't ask how--just be grateful.
DARK TO LIGHT
At present I do some of my magazine illustrations with Winsor Newton Designer's Gouache colors, and often reverse the procedure described above, and work from dark to light. This lends itself to a crisp result and produces a nice feeling of unity. After sketching in the details, I paint the shadows in red ochre or burnt sienna. This gives the picture its darks against which to gauge the lighter tones. After carefully detailing the shadow areas, I wash the light overall tones in last.
No two paintings are ever the same. Each has its own peculiar problem that must be analyzed and solved on the spot. To do this successfully, you will need one thing above all else: a secret ingredient called "Personal Confidence"! This you can achieve only by practice and experiment.
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