"Dockside Red Shed"
Watercolor on paper, 2015
15" x 20" (38.1cm x 50.8cm)
Here's a recent watercolor of an old shed in a marina in the LA Harbor. It is similar to this one in it's rendering, although it is a more tightly packed composition, and this one for the lone idea behind it.
I was drawn to not just the shed, I love corrugated buildings, but also the small palm and the two backlit plastic barrels for their luminosity.
Besides adding some shape variation to the composition they countered the predominant rectangular forms with cylindrical and radial (round or circular) forms. Just enough to break up a static composition.
The palm leaves fanning out in the lower left corner and the short retaining wall lead nicely to the barrels and shed, the power lines reinforcing the diagonal compositional thrust from lower left corner. Without that everything is horizontal and square and dull.
After those initial observations that first get my attention, when I sit down to paint I always realize the other artistic decisions that must be made before I put paint to paper. That for me is the real content, the design just aids in making it work.
I have to identify what I was seeing and decide how to portray those impressions through paint.
It's not always automatic.
What I was really seeing was not just the shed itself but how it sat by itself on the large dockside slab, isolated from the rest of the buildings.
The warm bright slightly overcast sky and simplified foreground communicated that idea of the isolated shed and also helped ease its busy liveliness. A nice clear blue sky or clouds would not have done that. Pretty blue skies generally say happy or pleasant, clouds say another depending on how they are portrayed, a dark sky says something else. But a bright nearly colorless sky doesn't draw attention to itself and in this case this reinforces the lone subject.
Since all the vibrancy takes place across the center in the shed itself its shadow needed to belong to it and differ from the barrels and palm shadows. So it starts green at left and after turning the corner is warm blue.
I also decided that since the shed had such a strong red color and aged patina showing the rippled surface of the corrugated metal was not necessary this time... it was busy enough.302