For this session we returned to Oella, a small town on the east bank of the Patapsco River, across from Ellicott City, built 200 years ago to house local mill workers. There were 4 of us – me, Elena, Jane, and JoEllen, and all of us but Jane (who focused on the intersection of Oella and Westchester Avenues) painted the Mount Gilboa Chapel. This is a small stone church built in the mid-19th century by freed African Americans; it is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Last year I painted the same view on a very dark surface. This time I started with white PastelMat paper, and after getting the charcoal drawing down and fixed, laid in a watercolor underpainting, using Derwent Inktense pencils. The result, as you can imagine, is very different! I’ve posted both to my Facebook page, for anyone who’d like to compare. The second one is not complete yet, though: I had to pack up and leave to meet someone at Strathmore Mansion, so I’ll have to finish the second version in the studio. The foreground and sky are not done, yet, and it needs a few fixes.
The last time I tried working a watercolor underpainting on PastelMat, I used tube watercolors, and the result was very blurry and weird – the colors all bloomed and ran into one another and I could not use the surface for the piece I’d intended. The Inktense pencils behaved very differently. I just scribbled the pigment lightly onto the paper and then used a large bristle round brush (and controlled amounts of water) to wash in the color. Much better!
I’ve also had a change of heart about drawing. After thinking about it a lot over the past week, I realize that I LOVE drawing. It’s what I do best, and it would be stupid not to play to my strengths and do what I most enjoy. Intellectually, I completely understand the concept of painting shapes versus drawing the lines of shapes and then painting them, but if I don’t get to draw, I get no pleasure from painting. And if I’m not having fun, what the hell’s the point?