Lighthouse from Hell
I took this photo of the lighthouse at Killarney, Ontario, two summers ago. And I’ve just gotten around to painting it.
Not an easy subject, I found. First of all, the sky is tricky. It’s quite granulated.
In watercolors, though, you can’t paint each and every cloud fluff, or it will look like crap.
And the last thing I wanted to do was spend hours drawing the lighthouse, and then ruin it all by screwing up the sky. So I did a few practice runs first.
Attempt #1. Meh. Too finicky. Too many patches, the clouds didn’t flow.
Attempt #2. Somewhat better. By using wet-on-wet, I softened the edges of the clouds.
Next, was to draw the lighthouse itself.
It helped to blow up the photo, and draw grid squares to get the proportions right. I could have really gone nuts, and broken this down into carefully measured grids. But I chose not to…I wanted to get the proportions down by eye. More drawing, and less technical drafting.
Besides, I had forgotten to bring my ruler, and was too lazy to ask to borrow one at Art Class. I just used the edge of my metal pencil-box to make the straight lines.
I drew it on sketch paper first, so as to not ruin the watercolor paper by erasing and drawing on it, over and over.
Again, this was NOT an easy subject. It’s bascially small 8-sided object on top of a larger tapered 4-sided object. Drawn in perpective, no less.
At this point, I was getting damned tired of looking at this @#%$% lighthouse. And I hadn’t even started to paint yet.
The next and final step was to re-trace the ENTIRE drawing again, with carbon paper underneath, to transfer it onto the watercolor paper itself. THEN….I started to mix colors.
When all was said and done, here’s how the final product turned out:
The photo was too dark on the bottom. So I had to use my imagination and fiddle around. I lightened up the rocks, and deliberately repeated some of the reds and blues of the sky and lighthouse. But just a hint.
I also didnt’ bother with the antenna and anemometer on top. They didn’t add to the painting, and would have must messed things up.
This painting’s all right. Though it could be better.
For one thing, I did a major boo-boo.
Can you spot what it is?
Hint: Look when you compare the angles of the railing from the photo to my drawing.
I got the perspective ALL wrong.
And of course, I only realized that after investing 5 hours into the painting, when it was 80% done.
And this being watercolor, there wasn’t a damned thing I could do to fix it.
But the instructor didnt’ think it was too bad. My saving grace was that I was consistent in the way I got the perspective wrong.
The building isn’t too lop-sided, so it looks like I kinda got away with it here.
This is what artists call a “Fortunate Accident”.
Or….I could say that I had I MEANT to do that…after all, this isn’t a photograph…it’s my “impression” of the scene.
Yeah…that’s it. That sounds about right.
I MEANT to do that.
Oh well. Chalk this up to being a “learning experience”.
And let us never speak of this wretched lighthouse again.
I’m done with them.
Though I might try one again…in about 5-10 years.