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Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Gothic Pinnacles" a 20" X 16" Watercolor

Gothic Pinnacles by April M Rimpo
Gothic Pinnacles
20" X 16" image

It's been awhile since I shared the colors and steps used to create a painting, so let's do it. I end this blog post on the architecture.

The Paints (pigment codes):
I used lavender/violet-yellow complements to create this painting. Complements tend to attract my eye and this particular set of colors conveys a happy feeling to a finished painting. The cool lavender and violet colors were used for the shadowed side of the building, while yellows were used in areas more brightly lit by the sun. 

Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors – New Gamboge (PY153)
Winsor and Newton Artist Water Colour – Yellow Ochre (PY43)
Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral
American Journey Artists’ Watercolor Royal Amethyst (Dioxazine) (PV23)
Holbein Artists’ Watercolor Cerulean Blue (PB35)
Daniel Smith Indigo (PB60, PBk 6)
I prefer to work with paints that have a single pigment in them. It is easier to avoid dull, lusterless colors, which watercolor painters call "mud". This small set of pigments allows me to create a pretty wide range of colors. You might not expect the green in the evergreen trees to be created from the same pigments used in the buildings, but they are. 

To make the building and trees feel like they belonged to the same paintings, I included some of these same greens in the shadow areas of the building and in the dark window panes.I also added violet colors into tree highlights. Artists call this "bouncing the colors" to create color harmony.

A few of the steps
In this section I'm featuring the windows in the foreground because I think they work well to illustrate the gradual layering to build color in the architectural details.  
Palest colors on left windows and begining of darks on 3rd
Initially my goal was to establish the pale colors in the lighter areas of the window. This includes the whites and yellow of the scroll work and the pinks in the lattice work in the windows. The left two windows show the first layer of color. In the window on the right, I added darks to see how the lattice in the windows worked once the darks were added. This is typical in my work.  Shifting back and forth between painting lights and darks makes sure the value range is right.

Light grays in scroll work on 1st and 3rd windows
This second photo shows the gray shadows in the upper scroll work in the far left window. You can see I was working quite gradually on the scroll work making sure the shapes were accurate. The window on the right has the darkest darks added to the scroll work, giving a nice 3-D effect. The windows all have their first layer of dark allowing a lot of the pastel colors to show through.

Darks on All Windows
In this photo, the darks in the scroll work are done, but the darks in the windows need to get darker before the painting is finished. I stopped working on these windows here until the painting was nearly complete so I can compare them with my darkest darks in the painting.

Close-up of finished windows.

After finishing all the spires, the windows in the distant building, and the tree, I decided the window panes in the front needed to be darker and more neutral in color. The earlier shade was more blue/violet. I added the dark colors from the tree to the darkest areas of these windows. The green neutralized the violet and also helped integrate the green into the building, albeit in a subtle way. 

I hope this explanation helps. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in a comment below.  

The Architecture
Here is an excerpt from section on Pinnacles on the Washington National Cathedral website
A pinnacle is an architectural ornament originally forming the cap or crown of a buttress or small turret, but afterward used on parapets at the corners of towers and in many other situations. The pinnacle looks like a small spire. In addition to adding to the loftiness and verticality of the structure, the pinnacles are very heavy and enable the flying buttresses to counteract the weight of the vaulted ceiling and roof. By adding compressive stress (a result of the pinnacle weight), the building’s load is shifted downward rather than sideways.
Finials are the topmost portion of a pinnacle, often sculpted as a leaf-like ornament with an upright stem and a cluster of crockets. Crockets are projected pieces of carved stone that decorate the sloping ridges of pinnacles. The carved shapes of these elements help move rainwater down while keeping the water from the roof or walls. 
The website article goes on to discuss the damage from the 2011 earthquake on the East Coast and reconstruction efforts.

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Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

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