Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Yellow House

I've noticed that I've been rather selective about what I blog about. You may even think I live in the the woods and while artistic licence may make a legitimate defense the truth as usual is more complicated.
Art is not all about following the muse, although we may like to think so. It is also the sum of the environment we live in; social, emotional and physical, whether we like it or not.
So I thought I would try a series of watercolours of my immediate neighbourhood. This is partly for practical reasons. My highly stylized coloured pencil pieces require a peculiar and often elusive spark of something (let's call it the muse) so I wanted a project on hand for those other days when I'm feeling less imaginative. In this case, I can work from photograph and attempt to capture, more or less, the same thing that you would see from a similar vantage point. It allows me to give my inner eye a rest and work on some technique at the same time. I'm still not entirely comfortable with watercolours and thought that doing reasonable facsimiles of an agreed upon reality would be very good practice. Thirdly, and not least, as I walk through my neighbourhood, I realize I would like to share it with you, and the discipline of doing this through watercolour will be more than useful.

This is the Yellow House.
It is, in some ways, typical of the neighbourhood, and yet there is no other house exactly like it. This is the sort of thing that attracted me to the area in the first place. Every house has its own character; some are big, some are small, some quite posh, others modest. And while even the smallest ones can shine with pride, others are visibly returning to earth from which they came. I don't know the status of the Yellow House but the snow has not been removed from the porch, dead wood decorates the yard and shrub trees run rampant up the sides. It could be someones summer home or it could be a neglected piece of equity. I'm not sure why I'm starting with this one, but I like to look at it as I pass by. It rubs right up against an architectural monolith that sports seven bathrooms, and snuggles up to a recently abandoned horse farm that sprawls behind it. The farm itself bears tragic story and may have some bearing on the mood of the piece.

Image: 8"x10" watercolour. And I could use your advice. Our community is generously lashed with telephone and powerlines that dominate the views in just about every direction. I wanted to paint them in, but my husband thinks not. It all depends, do I want a pretty picture, or do I want to capture the scene. On the other hands, framing with poles and lines may simply be too distracting. So, hey, what do you think?


krummholz said...

Your neighborhood sounds like my neighborhood in Gloucester, Mass.! Mostly small or medium sized houses, every one different--not a cookie-cutter neighborhood at all. My house was built in 1920 and has lots of character. As far as the power lines are concerned, that's one of those fascinating points about human perception. Since we unconsciously screen out the power lines when we look around us outdoors, they seem disproportionately obtrusive when they appear in a photo or a drawing/painting. (Like many amateur photographers, I've often failed to realize that the shutter does not screen what my human eyes screen.) But at the same time, they could be an interesting subject. I have a watercolor that my parents bought years ago that makes a wonderful picture of telephone poles, a weedy vacant lot, and trash blowing in the wind.

Cyd said...

I love the watercolour. It has a wonderful, mysterious mood, with all of the untouched snow.

A compromise on the lines and poles is to just add a token one or two, to add the sense that they are there, without belabouring the point. I guess it partly depends on your focus - is it just the house, or is it the house and its relationship to its surroundings, or its connection to the rest of civilization?

I think the presence of power and phone lines can give a sense of the age of the area - wires in new areas in cities are all underground now.

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I like the painting.. sad story.

I'd paint the lines passing through and not the poles - allude to the truth without dominating the image with it!

Chrissy said...

Hi there, I love the watercolour, it is beautiful. My watercolours never look like watercolour, I paint too strongly. I love the slightly neglected air of this house and my imagination was working overtime as to who lived here, LOL. Me I would leave out lines and telegraph poles or just allude to them slightly. As you know I take many photographs, at the minute I am taking loads of trees because there is a little competition going in one of the forums that I am in. I feel that power lines detract from the subject so if they are too intrusive, I photoshop them out.

Jennifer Rose said...

very nice soft looking watercolour :D its a good idea for a series and will be a nice look into your neighbourhood

I would maybe just hint at the lines, hubby on the other hand says include the power lines to frame the roads and the houses

Audrey said...

Since I drive through your neighbourhood on occasion, I'm looking forward to more houses that I can search out. I love this theme.

kaslkaos said...

Wow.Thanks everybody. Since I can always add, not remove poles & wires, I'll sit on this one. May even cheat & make a mock-up & see how it looks. Methinks at least a hint would be good, seeing as it is part of the mood of the neighbourhood, but actually painting those lines in permanent is a scary proposition.
Krummholz, I like the sound of your neighbourhood (btw, do you blog? I couldn't find it-it's okay to post a link here if you do)
Chrissy, it's just your style (or mine). I find it odd that my wc style is so soft compared to my cp's.
Audrey, have fun looking, but I wonder what the owners will think if they ever catch wind of this blog? I'm not being entirely complementary (but I really like the little old cottages, and live in one too).

krummholz said...

Thanks for your interest. I think you did visit my blog once sometime last year. You might find the current post interesting, about the incredible destructive force of a flash flood in a mountain stream valley: http://streamsandforests.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/cataclysm-below-porters-gap/
Hmmm--I'm not getting a link when I preview this. Oh well, you can always cut and paste!

kaslkaos said...

Thanks Krummholz. Nice Blog! The link got cut, but let's try:
Anyway, cut & paste works just fine. It's really nice to meet so many nature lovers here.


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