Regardless of media or subject, it all boils down to the values of the shapes working well together …. or not.  I can accept less than gorgeous colors in a painting of resolved values and shapes more than I can accept gorgeous colors in a painting that is visually abrasive because of it’s unresolved interplay of shapes.

Black and White Comparisons at various stages

I painted an 18″ x 24″ en plein air watercolor, thrilled with working larger.  It’s difficult to swing my arm, use larger brushes and splatter color here and there when I am working small.  Wanting to stay loose, I began without any drawing to guide me.  It would have been fine if I hadn’t included the wooden structure…. but then it wouldn’t have been a painting of the gateway to our Secret Garden.  The splattering began as a way to camouflage the errors in the structure.  The next problem was the composition of light and dark shapes.  I wanted the light to show through the structure, connecting the sky with the foreground.  I also loved the light shape of the tree against the dark shape of the tree just to the right of the structure.  Unfortunately, those two shapes were too close in size and shape.  One of them had to go, for the sake of the painting.

Final resolution

I am pleased with the results.  This is a great size for me. Next time I’ll try to resolve the value shapes before I start playing with paint.  Then I’ll be free to dive into gorgeous color interactions.  In this painting, the neutralized reds added life to the green masses.

Detail of Secret Garden

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