Olorful shadows in a street scene

Tree Shadow Watercolour

This is the sort of subject David thrives on, busy streets filled with people, cars and exciting shadows. From time to time he has exhibitions of his work at galleries in the Channel Islands and takes the opportunity to paint scenes around the various islands. This street scene is in St. Helier, Jersey. By working quickly, he finished the painting in one sitting while the light was constant. On the dry paper he made a simple, straightforward drawing stating the obvious buildings, boundaries and broad details only — too much unnecessary drawing inhibits a fresh result. Then he wetted both sides of the paper and began painting. Even in a complex street scene like this many ingredients can be merged into larger basic shapes to give overall simplicity.

The painting is first blocked in with broad shapes, which are essential to hold the picture together in the beginning and avoid any suggestion of "bitty-ness". After the background washes are on come the windows, which are touched in freely. Some of them should have broken edges, which is done by using a fairly dry brush and a quick stroke.

Willi the main shapes established, the stronger tones and details are put in. However, the word detail is fraught with danger. Details should be put in ivith speed and courage, avoiding tightness. Make sure that some of the colors mix on the paper, rather than your palette — look how much this has happened on the dark shop windoius at the end of the street.

Now it's rime for the figures and finishing the cars. Remember to keep the heads small and the bodies tall. Finally, the main overall shadoivs are added. (Work out beforehand exactly ivhere these shadows should be, then take a deep breath and put them in quickly and decisively.) The shadows seem to pull the whole picture together. Compare the last nvo stages.

Rivoli Corner, St. Helier, 11x15" (28 x 38cm)

Rivoli Corner, St. Helier, 11x15" (28 x 38cm)

Watercolored Human Figures ScenesLittle Streets France Cafe

The Harborside, Honfleur, 11x15" (28 x 38cm)

This little fishing port in France is a magnet for artists everywhere. It is full of boats, cafes, throngs of holidaymakers and dancing color and David has made the most of it! The color of the water has really set the scene, and from it one imagines a cloudless blue sky. The rich shadows under the bright orange and blue awnings suggest sunshine. Areas of untouched paper give sparkle to the fishing boats, and there is still more color on the green tarpaulins. The dark reflections in the water accentuate the bright quayside.

Reaching for the Sky, Melbourne, 15 x 22" (38 x 56cm)

David's instinctively creative use of color has transformed what could have been an ordinary street scene. The liberal use of mauve on lop of a warm under layer has given life to the road surface. Notice that the same mauve has been repeated behind the parked cars on the right, and on the shadow sides of the buildings. The rich wet-into-wet trees, also on the right, have been further enhanced by the bright red blossoms. The same red has been repealed in one of the cars, and one of lite figures, to provide unity. Do look too, at the parked cars and the incredibly simple ivay of treating them.

olor magic on both sides of the world

Alvaro Castagnet Street Painting

nhancing your paintings with warm and cool colors

Shadows Street SceneWatercolour Street Scenes

While this is seemingly a straightforward street scene, David's use of rich, contrasting colors at the bottom right has filled the picture with vitality. Cover this area up and you'll see how important it is. It is extremely unlikely that such a riot of color was there at the time, but this creative use of color and contrast is there for all of us to use if we have the courage. Note the playing dozvn of the building at the end of the street to give a definite depth of distance. The warm shadozvs in the street, painted in the dry brush technique, are also important.

Darling Downs, Queensland,

This typically Australian scene is full of sharply contrasting tone and color. What takes this painting out of the ordinary is the deliberate exaggeration of the color range. The dark greens and yellows of the foreground begin to cool dozvn in the middle distance, and the cool range of delicate mauves takes over. This is so vividly painted — and yet so much is left to the imagination, giving the viewer a host of possibilities. To keep unity in the painting the mauves have been repeated throughout, from the foreground building to the completely believable sky.

Low Tide Salcombe

Low Tide Salcombe, 11x15" (28 x 38cm)

This is a great example of liozv David has enhanced his colors beyond what is actually in the scene. While still being true to the spirit of the scene, he has injected more in the way of visual pleasure. In reality, the foreground beach is basically warm ochre, but the distribution of the cool gray/green and blues brings out the warmth even more. You 'II see a variation of this technique in the foreground buildings on the left. As the picture recedes into the distance David has deliberately cooled and simplified the greens of the background grass and trees to accentuate the depth. The dark, contrasted area of the top of the harbor steps has become the focal point.

une in to colorful street scenes

Colorful Streets Sceanes

When wandering around die streets of any town or city, let color be your guide. Tunc in visually to the colors that surround you. Select an area and try to see it as a finished painting filled with rich color and light. For example, take this scene; David was walking in the streets of Cefalu, in Sicily where he was teaching. It was a warm day and there was a holiday atmosphere. His eye was caught by the red tablecloths and colorful shirts, made dramatic by the strong shadows. An added advantage was that he clearly had models who were content to stay there for some time enjoying their coifee and the friendly company.

After completing a simple drawing, many of the lighter tones of the background are added, making sure that there is plenty of variety of color in the stonework, and leaving untouched paper for the umbrellas. The tablecloths are painted in a mixture of Cadmium Red and Raiv Sienna. Cadmium Orange is also used to provide warm color in surrounding areas. The figures are also indicated during this stage.

Colors used

Aureolin, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange, Brown Madder, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue and Sepia.

Strong shadows in the doorzvays and under the umbrellas give power to the design, and the table legs and chairs are swiftly indicated with the rigger.

Now the rest of the sliadozus are added, which bring the picture to life by emphasizing all the light colors. Shadows must always be fresh, spontaneous and colorful, but never overworked.

Time for Coffee, Cefalu, (Sicily), 11 x 15" (28 x 38cm)

Time for Coffee, Cefalu, (Sicily), 11 x 15" (28 x 38cm)

Cefalu CafeUmbrella WatercoloursWatercolourimages

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  • primula
    How to add shadows in watercolour street scenes?
    7 years ago

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