View Full Version : Charleston shadows - untitled as of yet

10-08-2005, 08:13 PM
I've never done a true WIP before so I thought I would give it a try with the piece I just started. Hopefully, I can remember to snap progress images as I go. Sometimes I get too caught up to stop.

My reference comes from a trip my wife and I took to Charleston, SC in May. Beautiful place and a painter's paradise. Every corner has a paintable scene begging to be put on paper. I have about a hundred photos in the que from those four days alone. I chose to start with this one because of the shadows (imagine that?). I apologize for the glare on the reference photo; it's a picture of a picture. But you can at least get an idea where I am starting.


I usually start with a fairly detailed value sketch to work out the balance I want. I found this great heavy paper made in a small mill in Montreal. It is killer -- textured and supple, just wonderful. It takes washes well. I use indigo and white gouache for the value study. In working on the values I really enjoyed the reflections and shadows on the Venetian blinds in the window. They added a real abstraction to a realistic scene. Are they too much? Too distracting? I am also struggling with the line of the brick wall up the side. I like it one moment and then think it is distracting the next. Input welcomed and needed on that.


After I am satisfied with the values and make adjustments if needed, I transfer the picture to the strectched paper. I've been using hot press of late and I am enjoying it. It has such a velvety texture and the darks are great once you get them on. The drawing is hard to discern but you can just make it out. Sorry for the bad pictures.


I leave the drawing alone for at least a day to make sure I am happy with it. That is where I am now. In the interim I work out my colors. I will post my color chart when I am finished. I am thinking of using the same or very similar palette from my recent Fourth of July post. Thoughts on that appreciated as well.

Thank you for indulging me. I am finding it very helpful to think about how I do what I do and why I do it. Thanks again and C&C welcomed.

10-08-2005, 08:55 PM
Tom ... your remark about the brick wall on the left has prompted me to
ask "Why?" It's a reference, it is not cast in stone, you can leave out the
brick wall... it's distracting anyway to the clapboard facade of the house/ building. One of the things I don't understand about many of our members is their trying to exactly reproduce a photo... I don't paint plein aire, I use only photos or my own drawings as a base to start from and it is never an exact copy of my reference. I actually dislike "photorealism" in paint... If I want a photo I want a photo not a painting, and vice versa.

Just my thoughts...

Jo in Georgia

10-08-2005, 09:33 PM
Hi Tom....
Interesting...re the brick wall....Glad its not me who has to make the decision....;-)
I would say no......
But thats one heck of a value sketch....I would be tempted to stop there...

10-08-2005, 10:00 PM
Jo: I agree wholeheartedly about not be a slave to the photo. I more often than not change a great many things from the sketches and the photos I take. In this instance I half think the brick grounds the viewer and gives that feeling that you just walked around the corner onto the scene. I try not to be a "photorealist" but I do like my subjects to look like a recognizeable image. Light and shadow are the kickers for me.

Brian: Thanks. I am talking myself into yes . . . for the moment. My wife likes my value sketches better than my paintings!

T Christensen
10-08-2005, 10:17 PM
I understood you to make this painting about the shadows so the brick wall does add to that sensation . I'm getting a good feel of where you're headed and you did change up the final sketch from the photo . I agree with Jo about making it different from the ref , unless you're learning . You are not :)......and you showed it with the changes . They look Great............TerryC

10-08-2005, 11:58 PM
Geesh, Tom. Love that value work-up. I'm for ousting the bricks...but only 'cause in my minds-eye, I see that as an oppourtunity for a few more abstracty shadows coming from the left on a diagonal....on the FG as well as the clapboards. The FG shadows can act to ground the viewer as well. Like Brian, I'm glad it's your call! :wave:

10-09-2005, 02:25 AM
I am pulling up a chair here Tom..:) :wave:

10-09-2005, 04:21 AM
I vote no brick wall, Tom :)

Wonderful sketch!


10-09-2005, 07:54 AM
Pulling up a comfy chair to watch this.
I love that value sketch!!! And WOW what an accurate drawing!!
Did you use a :eek: ruler :eek: ???



my new art website (http://www.diva-design.de/JBB/index.htm)

Fireman's kid
10-09-2005, 08:14 PM
Pulling up a chair to watch this one!

And I agree, that value sketch is so good you could just stop there. But please don't because I want to see the rest! :)

10-09-2005, 08:38 PM
Thanks everyone. I appreciate the support. I was able to work on this quite a bit today. I laid in the washes for the wall starting with a lemon yellow (let that dry), FUB (dry) and then some viridian. It looked a little too blue so I washed over a nice light Hookers Green. I am pleased with the base color for the wall and started adding some shadows in with FUB and Indigo with a little viridian. For the really dark ones I will later wash over some Alizarin. I like to work in the darkest areas first to give myself parameters in my values Also worked on the trunk of the palm tree. That is going to be fun with all those foliage shadows. The trunk is indigo and Van Dyke brown (old tube I had lying around) I decided to keep the bricks for now. I can trim them off later.


I also worked on the shadows in the window and the blinds inside. I used the warm Van Dyke brown and then indigo over that.


Hopefully, I can get some more finished tomorrow evening. Is anyone else having trouble viewing pictures in certain threads? I am.

Thanks for looking and commenting. Every little bit helps.

10-09-2005, 11:50 PM
Lovely color palette Tom...Putting in the darks first is something I've read about but not tried. This is already lookin' very cool! :wave:

10-10-2005, 06:36 AM

So glad I caught up with this before you finished. Love seeing works develop little by little.

This is looking good so far. I like the brick wall being there to give exactly the feeling you mentioned, as if I were standing beside that building looking ahead at the windows and shadows that are in the light.

Be careful with your lines between the bricks though. In your value sketch, your perspective and dimensions of the bricks seemed to be off. That may have been because you just were doing a value sketch, but it would be an important feature in your finished painting.


BTW, I gave you my Mentor Point for today and I will rate this thread because I think you are doing a great job explaining your thinking and what you are doing, as well as showing us with photos. Thanks for taking the time. :)

10-10-2005, 09:09 PM
Sylvia: Thanks for the heads up on the bricks. I was working quickly on the sketch but I will be more careful on th finished piece. Thanks for the point and the kind words.

Kevin: Thanks. By workig in the darkest areas first I can compare the rest of the values in the piece to them.

Here are shots of how far I got tonight after an hour or so. A report on the bald eagle with my son took most of the evening. Nonetheless, I am happy with where this is heading so far. I worked in the rest of the window panes and really tried to warm up that area so used the VDyke Brown quite heavily.


Here is a detail of the window. I like the abstraction caused by the shadows on the blinds. I will tighten that up some but try to keep a loose color mix like Ban Sidhe did in her post today (Thane - I believe). If you didn't see her post, you should take a look; very good stuff (hers not mine).


As you can see I worked on the shadows in the lower corner and on the shutters. I started with a wash of FUB and then some indigo and then viridian. On the pavement I used the same with a light wash of alizarin. The stone curb is FUB and indigo primarily. Here is a detail of the drain.


Once again, thanks for looking and commenting.

10-10-2005, 09:57 PM
Oh My!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You're GOOD!!!

Gary B.
10-10-2005, 10:01 PM
Wow! This is wonderful. I always admire your paintings, and I appreciate the chance to see how you do it step by step.

10-10-2005, 11:11 PM
...interesting that you paint this way... By workig in the darkest areas first I can compare the rest of the values in the piece to them.

Often, in my florals, I will lay down my darkest darks for the very same reason... I've always been told that I'm painting backwards, though... :D

I love your work... I love this... my favourite bit is the light and shadow of the venetian blinds... :D

10-10-2005, 11:28 PM
Lookin' good! As Char said, the light n' shade on the blinds is wonderful... :wave:

T Christensen
10-11-2005, 03:01 AM
This is so exciting .....did you say the size ?.......TerryC

10-12-2005, 07:57 AM
Terry: This is on a half sheet 140lb HP Arches. Thanks

Char: If you paint backwards I want to paint like you! Thanks

Kevin, Gary and JJ: Thank you.

I was able to get a little more done last night and early this morning. Worked in more shadows on the siding and in the foliage. Also worked on the shutters. I used more viridian and FUB mixed with these shadows. I am still playing with the right mix. Also washed over a light Indian Red over the foreground bricks in preparation for working on the detail. I am enjoying these shadows; it's almost as if a shadow bomb exploded on the wall as I plan my painting.


Having trouble with the downloader so I will attach detail pics later. Thanks for looking. I have an evening to paint tonight so I hope to get more done.

10-12-2005, 08:01 AM
This is coming along beautifully.

Will be a spectacular painting when finished..

10-12-2005, 08:54 AM

Those shadows ARE what you are painting, aren't they? The rest is just periphery details. ;)

Coming along very nicely. I love the little abstract in the shutters section.


Celeste McCall
10-12-2005, 09:53 AM
Hay, Tom (southern for HI and what they say in NC)
I bet you enjoyed that trip. ;) I love the Charlotte airport!!! They even have a piano playing the day I was there....a grand piano with a wonderful piano player....and people in rocking chairs near the eating pavillion. WOW they know what southern comfort is.

I'm with your wife on this one...love the value sketch so much!!!!!! WOW. Love the painting that's coming along too. ;):):)

One thing that might add to some depth which is probably why you like the brick wall on the left.....would be to overlap that plant that is front of the pole. It creates a tangent by both of them stopping along the same line. If you'll extend and overlap the pole by a few sprigs of the plant to the right of the pole, then even more depth will be added.

As far as the brick wall....well....it does add depth...but also distraction. I say that keeping the composition more simple is better than the added depth....but this is your painting and your call on that.

It leaves me wanting more wall to look at, and so it is a bit of a distraction.

One thing in the value sketch that I love about it is that you varied the values on the bricks instead of reproducing that stiff dark/light brick edge. Yours is much better than the photo. So, congrats on that fact because only the best seem to do that (losing edges with values and creating interest within objects with varied values as well. :) :) :) )

Yep, I'd be tempted by that tonal sketch for sure. EXCELLENT ARTWORK, Tom!!!!!!!

WOW, again. ;)

Lots of clappies and smilies

10-12-2005, 11:05 AM
love the greens here Tom!!!

can't wait to see more progress

and I would have to say that reading through my vote was definitely for the brick wall. it's an odd composition and I am attracted to odd. :wink2: it gives it more dimension to my eye.


10-12-2005, 11:31 AM
this is truly a winner in the making

10-14-2005, 10:24 PM
Sorry I haven't posted progress images but here is where I am on this. I'm getting pretty close to being finished with most of this. I still have the bright window and the top of the palm tree to finish up. The shadows need some work as well but I am pleased with the colors and values.


Here are some details. I may have overworked the foliage, but Celeste, your advice about overlapping foliage was spot on. Thanks. I am pleased with the bricks. The colors on them are a good contrast to the greens.

Lynn Quinn
10-14-2005, 11:13 PM
Very good work, Tom! This is the sort of photo (or scene) I would have little or no interest in, until I see what you've done with the paint!

10-14-2005, 11:35 PM
Looking gorgeous!!

My favouite par ts so far are ..

The shadows

The folliage

The window.

I love the drain too!!

Celeste McCall
10-15-2005, 12:34 AM
Hi Tom,
Boy, that sure does look great with the foilage. Your work is magnificent.

If you leave the beautiful brick part in, then consider doing a second piece - equal size, that is a continuation of that building and when finished the two would make a great pair. That would satify the viewer's desire to see more of the brick building.

However, I'm still for leaving it out as the window has suddenly stolen the entire show and there should be the emphasis. Anything that detracts from that is a pull away from it.

But, again, it does add that extra depth. That's a tough call that you will have to make....but I'd be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 viewers would find it distracting....but, then again, like Em said.....she likes it...so, I'm probably wrong about that.

This is terrific from top to bottom.....what a great gift you have. ;)

T Christensen
10-15-2005, 01:05 AM
I liked it tooo

10-15-2005, 04:34 AM

This is really looking wonderful. I love the mix of colors on the clapboards of the house and the way the shadows are done all over the painting! The windows are compelling too.

I like the addition of the colors from the bricks, I just wish you had made that element a little larger. As it is now, it is more of a distraction than an enhancement, IMHO.

This again is a lesson to all of us to really look at what is all around us for the possibility of painting subjects. Your artist's eye saw those shadows and said "This is a painting waiting to happen" when many, if not most, of us would have walked right on by.

You get my Merit Point and a rating for this thread today. :)


10-15-2005, 09:47 AM
Hi Tom.....
First of, this is up to your high standards of not only painting, but vision.
This is a wonderful example of taking a photo to the max....
I tend to lean towards those who say no brick......
And just shadows.


Hope you don't mind.

10-15-2005, 10:39 AM
Hi Tom.
First I want to vote No Bricks ,too. I don't think it does anything for the composition.You don't need a lead -in because everything is Face -Front anyhow. It makes you wonder why it's there.
You are doing a marvelous job ,your color sense is terrific.
My Husband is a Native Charlestonian, so I spent a lot of time visiting Gramma there and loved the old worldliness of it.
This could be the side of his House for all I know.
It was right on King Street , facing the Battery.
My kids used to cross over to the little Park there and lie down on the Civil War Canons , looking up at the Ante-Bellum Houses.
I haven't been there in years .
You are getting the charm of the place for sure!

10-15-2005, 09:12 PM
Thanks everyone for helping and supporting me in this one. It was very fun to do. I am posting the final and some details over in the gallery.

June: I took these pictures in the areas you are describing. It very well could be your husband's home. Small world if it is. Thanks.

Brian: I do not mind manipulations of my work in the least. Thanks for showing me it without. I decided to finish it and leave it in for the moment. If I ever do anything with this one I will make the tough decision then. Thanks again.

Sylvia: Thank you for the point and rating! I tend to see too many paintings and fail to focus on the road when driving so my wife says.

Celeste: Thanks. I've left it in but I'm not sure it will stay. I will put it aside and come back later. I got so caught up in the colors in painting the bricks that I am for leaving it in for now.

Terry, JJ, Kevin, Pam, Em, Jutta, Gary, Char, Doug and Stacy and Lynn, thank you all for looking and helping.

10-16-2005, 01:26 AM
I ALMOST MISSED THIS!!! (Of course, I would have found in the gallery when it arrives there :).

Tom, your work is incredible. No matter what you paint I love it. Love your style and the subjects.

I can't find it in the thread (I'm pretty tired), but what size is this?


10-16-2005, 11:05 AM
For some reason, the system isn't letting me award merit points -- says I'm using them when I'm not. Grrrr...

So, when this appears in the Gallery Tom, I will be awarding you 5 stars for this beautiful work.


10-16-2005, 03:12 PM
Thanks alot, Deb. I really appreciate it.

10-16-2005, 05:30 PM
Rated 5 stars!!!!, for the clever subject, for the amazing drawing, for the terrific value previous sketch, for the excellence of your tutorial, and for the great painting performed. my sincere congrats, this is the kind of studio I learn from. THANKS a lot