Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lake Bolsena, Italy

Lake Bolsena, Italy
by Jane McElvany Coonce
I'm finally getting around to matting some of the watercolors that I did in Italy.  Matting is the least favorite part of the job of being an artist.  In oils, you don't mat the work; you just slap it in a frame.
DONE!  But with watercolor, you need to cut a mat to go around the piece to set it off.  I've always said that my definition of a successful artist is when you drop off the piece at the framer and let him cut the mat.  But I'm still cutting my own, so I haven't quite achieved that success, yet.

The reason cutting a mat is such a pain is that you have to measure carefully.  Being off by 1/8 of an inch can sometimes be disastrous and you have to start all over.  Other times, you knick your finger with the cutter and you end up with blood all over the mat that you just spent 15 minutes measuring and cutting.  (Blood isn't acceptable in the frame; the customers don't seem to like it.) So that mat goes in the trash.

This scene is one I did in Umbria on my trip a few weeks ago.  It was a beautiful day, and we sat at the edge of the lake and painted while people strolled up and down the promenade, stopping to admire all of the art work.  I got the whole painting done and then the sailboat showed up. Damn!  I liked that sailboat; why couldn't that boat captain have sailed by 2 hours earlier?

But when I got home, I decided I wanted that sailboat in there.  So I took a piece of acetate and drew the shape of a sailboat with a black sharpie.  I drew the size and shape of the boat.  Then I took an exacto-knife and cut out the shape; I basically made a stencil.  I moved the stencil around until I decided where I wanted the boat.  I wanted that sail to be against a dark area so it would stand out.  Next, I taped the stencil down and took a sea sponge and began scrubbing!  Within a few seconds, it was back to the white of the paper.  And there stood my boat! I added a dark base for the boat bottom and scrubbed a little of the color out of the water to make the reflection.

Without the boat, the painting was nice, but a little boring.  I think the boat adds a little life to the work.
What do you think?

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