Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Painting a formal portrait of the building - am I crazy?

My ant redecorated her place. She Skiped me to show her freshly painted bare walls and said: "Jules, I really need you to draw me a picture or something that I could put up on the wall. Now it's so empty it's blinding". "Sure thing, - I answered bravely, - what kind of picture you'd like?" "Watercolor would be nice, - she said. - Paint some nice old building. You know I like all kind of ruins". "Absolutely! - I said. - There are plenty of old buildings in Montreal, I can whisk something up in no time!"

That was in February.

Yesterday I finally finished something that I could imagine hanging on a wall without being a total embarrassment for me and the owner of the house. I used Mark Taro's "tea - milk-honey" approach (THANK YOU FOR THE LAST POST, MARK!) and voila! - created a semi-decent watercolor. The best quality of it - it's finished. You can see it's a little bit forced and clumsy, but at least you can recognize Calvet house and not all the colors are coming straight from a crazy person's dream.

You know how I struggle with urban landscapes. For some reason I find it nearly impossible to get the proportions and perspective right, and I usually end up way far from reality and under- or over estimate dimensions by miles. Maybe I need a CAT scan. Strangely, I have no such problems while drawing people. I thought for quite long time why it is so difficult to me to draw a simple parallelepiped when I almost effortlessly dealing with much more complex shapes such as human faces.

Finally, today I had a big, BIG break-through.

My biggest trick when I draw people: I basically draw a caricature. When I observe the subject, I first imagine them looking like a Mad magazine cover. I just sort of soft it down on the way while I am drawing. And then the likeness stays and the grotesque goes.

And I thought: why don't I try to do the same with a landscape? Why don't I try drawing a caricature of the buildings? And then I just soft it down a little bit, so it wouldn't look too over the top. And I am telling you, people - that was by far my smartest idea this year!

Look at it - isn't it much prettier and cuter? This picture doesn't at all looks like somebody died creating it, right?

Before I was so preoccupied with realism, with getting the dimensions right and all the lines straight, I could barely move a pen - so much I was stressed and uptight. But after I remove a stick out of my ass - the world become oh so more inviting and simple. I can't wait to use my newly acquired wisdom at our next Urban Sketchers' outing.


  1. Очень интересно! Наверное, это правильно - рисовать не то, что видишь, а то, что чувствуешь!

  2. Я обычно ничего не чувствую, кроме паники и уверенности, что ничего не выйдет :))

  3. Been there- trying to get the perspectives perfect- you're absolutely right!!