Practicing the Gesture

"Bordeaux Promenade"
watercolor, 15 x 22 inches (practice only)
While in Bordeaux this last summer, I was fascinated with scenes like this. There is a football field sized slab of concrete like this near the town center. Inside the slab are valves and jets that spew steam and water and fountain-like spouts all day long. Adults and children alike are drawn to this place as its visual magic changes every ten minutes. Reflections and different configurations of water in its vapor or liquid states make for endless entertainment. In the summer, when it is warm, people gather there to cool off and simply stroll and / or play. I have 50 photos of the activity there and wish I had taken more.

This image is practice piece for one on which I wish to embark soon. It is all too tempting paint the ‘details’ . . .but they are not what make this painting an interesting possibility. It is the glare, distortions and reflections. So, given that, the challenge is to make it interesting by only using the gesture of the brush rather than belaboring details. This practice experiment is to flex my gestural muscles a bit before tackling a big painting of the subject. Prior to putting the figure shapes into this painting, I spent some time practicing making the gestures which suggested people and reflections with a one inch flat brush. Lots of twisting the brush, using edges and corners etc to bring about the feel I was after. The practice helped a lot . . .and shows me where I need to put my best efforts in the upcoming painting. This is a challenge that will keep me occupied for a few weeks. . . . .and will build more skills.

Does that skill building aspect of being an artist ever end? I hope not!

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