We soldiered on, working on the building on the left. The shutters on either side of the open window went in with a single stroke of a flat brush, then the same flat brush with a deeper grey-blue used vertically so that only the tips of the brush hairs touched the surface hopped down the shape. That made the louvres – they only needed a trifle more dark at their edges to become convincing. Flowers, pots and greenery covered the wall adequately and decoratively. Using varying tones of reds and greens added depth, and the pots were great fun.
The strong shadow on the ground,( it was very sunny), made me see that the walls were too warm. It seemed a pity to lose the colour, but “needs must”, so I blued it with a light wash after all was very dry. The final touch was the opaque white on the heads and shoulders of two of the people.
We visited two or three old villages as well as Old Nice on my recent visit to the south of France so that I don’t recall which one this street was in! Nor did I take notes – the ambience was too restful for that. (I’ll have to do better on my next holiday.)
The light is streaming down the street so most of the buildings are in shadow or glancing sunshine and the people are back lit. It’s quite complicated at first sight but “Hazel’s dictum”works in this scene, too.
I began by dropping in the sky then a light wash of Burnt Umber on all the buildings. This colour is less red than Burnt Sienna and serves well as the creamy stone in indirect sun. The full sun is only on the top of the steps and on the heads and shoulders of the people. When the wash was nearly dry I deepened the tone on the surfaces directly facing me, finally giving them a light wash of Ultramarine Blue after they had dried. Now I had the buildings marching up the street and could begin on the detail.
Starting on the right, I put in the tones and colours I could see, not many from this angle, finishing off with the window grill. Advancing up the wall, I indicated the shadows cast by the open shutter and the deep tone of the window recess. Downstairs had more flowers and a grill. The next building shows its face only as a thin slither of light, framed by the shadowed walls. How effective that slither is! Just imagine the painting without it. A roof line and vague window shapes dressed the further building, and we have arrived at the people walking over the crest of a little hill. These are very simply indicated using colours already in the painting, and I’ve missed the highlights on two of them so a little opaque white will be called for at the end. (I use Designer’s Gouache for that and it wanders if you work on top of it).
The building at the back of the street is actually on the downward slope of the road, the top of its heavy door helping to thrust the figures forward. There is a huge terracotta pot on a high wall next, its greenery largely silhouetted against the sky. The wall it’s standing on disappears behind another terracotta pot at ground level.
By working the detail starting from a fixed spot (it doesn’t have to be the side) extra brush strokes “grow” the painting. This is an encouraging way to paint as the picture develops under your eye, and concentration on one area helps you to observe more.
Just one of those moments when you see something paintable – and you have your camera with you. Everything was just right, the colouring, the shapes, the sunlight.
Since the dome is strikingly bluey-green (I used Viridian neat with Ultramarine Violet for the darker places) it seemed sensible to use dilute Prussian Blue for the sky, laid in on previously dampened paper. Then I HAD to do the dome, such an exciting colour, such a neat shape. The building was painted warm golden yellow, so Raw Sienna was called into play, and the bright sun gave me crisp, fairly simple decorative details, (certainly more simple than the extravagances of Belem Cathedral). More intense mixture of Raw Sienna defined the shadows in this bright sunny painting, with the addition of Ultramarine Violet for the really dark places.
At this stage, I took a photo – in case I ruined the whole painting by inserting the trees. It works fine as it is but element of surprise, of just a glimpse of colour, adds to the story. In the event, I think the trees are indeed an interesting addition providing context and colour balance. All the colours are in the yellow/blue sector of the colour wheel. You don’t have to have opposites to make a good painting. The darker tree is Viridian with the addition of Ultramarine Violet, while the lighter, in both colour and texture is Viridian this time with Aureolin.