Summer afternoon watercolor

Memorial Park watercolorI painted this en plein air last Sunday afternoon in Houston’s Memorial Park. It’s been very hot of late, but I really love late afternoons this time of year; the smells, the light, the sound of the cicadas. It was about 5 o’clock when I went out. As usual, I purposefully did not try to find an ideal spot; partially because my time window was short and partially for the challenge of just painting the first spot I come upon. In my haste to leave the house, I forgot a water receptacle, so just used my empty paper coffee cup.

This was my second attempt. I flipped the page and started again after a false start, and consoled myself by realizing that I probably needed to loosen up first. Painting a jumble of foliage and trees is very challenging. So is capturing the light, which was coming from the front and right. A great trick I learned from my watercolor hero John Pike is to start to paint the back-lit leaves with a first wash of yellow, then add progressively darker greens on top. It really does work.

The finished painting is about 11 by 8 inches and took about an hour-and-a-half.

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