Chalk Magic


Watercolor on illustration board. 20″ x 14.5″

While the city bakes in the sun, she dreams of water.

I spent too long on this painting because I kept changing my mind. Originally the city was supposed to be very grimy and dark, but as I worked on the design, it gained a sort of Middle-Eastern atmosphere: dry, sunny, and hot.

The view through "window" in the wall was supposed to show an opposite of the city. Originally this was a green forest, then a garden, then a bright ocean. After painting in the ocean, I decided that this wasn't different enough from the lighting and mood of the city. I added some pink and darker blue, and made it a sea at sunset.


Plein-Air - Racquetball Court

Raquetball Court_PaigeCarpenter

Watercolor sketch of a racquetball court. Hardly anyone uses this court, and it has incredible lichen and stains on the walls.

I'm trying to focus on values.   My art teacher in college used to say, "Make the darks darker and the brights brighter."   But I think I left the shadows in the court too light and made the tree too dark.  Better luck next time.

Skin Tone Studies

Until now, I have painted skin tones with a blend of pinks, oranges, and purples, regardless of whether the lighting in my painting was overcast, sunny, indoors, or at night.  I've known for a long time that in such changes of light, leaves are not always green, and that the sky is not always blue.  But for some reason I've blithely used the same paints for skin and hair in any lighting. Faces

(Left to right: overcast sky, night sky, sunlight.)

For the past few months I have been working through James Gurney's Color and Light, and I finally made the discovery that if I want to paint realistic lighting, I have to change the colors I use to paint skin (as well as sky, earth, trees, etc). I don't know why I didn't realize this before.

In one of his blogposts, Gurney made a reference to variations in lighting in The Lord of the Rings films, particularly Gandalf's reappearance in Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers.  The lighting in this scene is very close to the light and mood I'm trying to create in my current painting.

I got out my DVD and paused it in several places to some quick sketches of Gandalf and Legolas:


Instead of my usual pinks and purples, I neutralized everything with Davy's Grey.  I love Davy's Grey.  Since I bought this paint I've used it more than any other color.