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Beach houses in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

plein air painting sketchbook travel sketching urban sketching watercolor Jul 17, 2019

Early this morning, before it became too hot and sticky for me to be able to concentrate, I did the watercolor sketch below.  I've been asked to show the stages of a sketch I do directly in watercolor without a preliminary drawing of any sort.  Here it is.

I began in a very small sketchbook I made from old paintings on arches watercolor paper.  I thought the splatters on this double spread page might be nice as a background for the linear cottages and to keep me from becoming too rigid in my sketch, knowing how slowly and carefully I would be working. Painting without either a preliminary pencil or ink drawing requires at least three times the amount of time when I'm doing something as precise as this.

Making the first mark is always the scariest.  It will determine the size of everything else, for better or worse. 

I painted the orange house first, the roof of the orange next and then the turquoise house , leaving room for the deck of the grey house that sits between the deck where I am painting from and the turquoise house.

I moved on to the front of the grey house, part of its deck and the line of its roof. this is the first time I've worked a bit wet in wet in order to achieve variation of greys that I can work into later with darks to define railings and the window.

Next,I added more railings, the roof, the side of the grey house that faces me, the American Flag towels that are hanging over the railing,  and some of the dune grass.

More railings, the stairs that lead to the ground and the front side of the house that faces the ocean, leaving the white of the paper to suggest the door and windows. I added tiny strips of turquoise between the railings to suggest seeing through the railings to the turquoise house.

 The suggested the window facing me by adding a slightly darker wash to that side of the house, leaving the original wash to work as the white window frame in shadow. I used a greyed blue mix for the glass of the windows suggesting the reflection of the blue sky and carrying through the blue of the turquoise house for movement through the image.  i added the deck of the turquoise house and tiny strips of orange that can be seen through the rails. The cottage beyond the orange house are suggested without detail as well as the Avalon Pier several mies down the beach. A neutral sandy color was added loosely to suggest the sand.  I used a mix of gamboge, cadmium red light, burnt sienna and a smidgeon of viridian (I think). I had trouble mixing a sand color that didn't compete with the houses.

 Below is my set up.

The nesting water cups and my pigments are sitting on the arm of the chair that my body is blocking.

 Finished sketch.

Beach Houses - Kitty Hawk, North Carolina



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