Friday, July 27, 2012

Cottages Paintings

When I stayed at Lakeside this year I did two cottage paintings en plein air. I have painted quite a few cottages over the past few years, several as commissions. I kept them small this year as the days were warm and I didn't want to stand in the sun any longer than necessary.

Shown here is the Peach Cottage, on Fourth Street and a blue cottage at the end of Kenton Row, with a nice view of the lake from its northern windows.

The trick to making a successful composition with a building is to be keenly aware of how the eye enters the painting and where you want the center of interest to be. In the first painting the flowers are the draw and all the planes of the garage 'point' toward  the flowers. The stairs and window are incidental but the color of the house itself will not be ignored so I made sure I modified the peach with a lot of green. I painted this on a gray day so there isn't a lot of contrast between light and shadow. The values are a lower key and the scene is actually quite muted,
The Peach House
 In direct contrast to the painting above this one was painted in strong afternoon sunlight. The shadows are dark and the light is warm. A path (really -- it was right there!) leads us into the painting and the shrubs drive us up to the building where the strong contrasts hold the eye. The flag and doorway become the focus and from there we are (I hope anyway) encouraged to explore the rest of the landscaping.

The challenge with painting landscapes this small is always a question of what to omit. I think the more I leave out the better I like it. Up close the objects are just abstract forms but when they are placed together in an orderly manner they read as a house and a nicely landscaped lot. Red blobs are pots only because we believe them to be, not because they were painted with a great deal of accuracy.

That's a lake freighter in the background, along with a few boats. But we only know this because the horizon reads as water.
The End of Kenton Row

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