This is the painting I completed during the urban realism workshop with John Salminen. I used M. Graham paints, Arches 140lb cold press paper, a squirrel mop brush, flat and round synthetic brushes, and a round kolinsky for details. I had chosen my reference from a photo I took in 2001, and did all the drawing in advance of the workshop. I will comment on some of the aspects of the painting that illustrate learning points from the workshop:
1. The tonal plan corresponds to John's guidelines to use value to differentiate the planes of the picture: The background is built with light values, the middle ground with middle values and the foreground with dark values--the exception is the main figures, but that was done as a form of focus. John's demo and the work of other participants showed that the association of planes and values can work in any combination (middle>dark>light, light>dark>middle, etc.) and produces a successful feeling of depth. I also tried to use a wide range of values, from the white of the paper to very dark grays.
2. A lot of the light details were saved with masking tape and cutting knife, some were lifted with Mr Clean Magic Eraser--this allowed for the creation of very thin lines and fine detail.
3. The reflections on the sidewalks was done using John's method of wetting the paper, dropping color with vertical strokes of a flat brush, and softening the transitions with a hake brush.
4. The dark walls on the right were painted mostly with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, which created a warm dark value that was competing with the warm color walls on the left. If I'd tried to cool the color down by brushing further layers of color, I would end up with a very dull surface. Instead, to fix that problem, I masked around the wall shapes and sprayed with blue color through a mouth atomizer, which cooled the color without significantly altering the value or luminosity of the shapes.
The resulting painting is successful in capturing the mood and atmosphere of a hot, humid New Orleans morning. John Salminen pointed out the role of the foreground darks in making the middle value shapes glow with reflected light.
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