Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Vintage Tractor in Watercolor

a virtual studio tour the vintage tractor Christy Sheeler artist 2016

Virtual Studio Tour!

It's taken a while now but I'm happy to reveal
The Vintage Tractor watercolor painting.  After so many landscape and floral subjects, it's been a treat to take some time with the faded paint, dents, and rust!

More than ten years since my last mechanical type subject...
So many years, I'll have to check with my car-guy husband to know for sure which one was most recent before this one.



As I've shared often, I love the hunt for all variety of items from a time gone by.  It's like these items have a story to tell.  They tell about the culture and the daily living of that time.  When I saw this old tractor sitting out in the elements, it seemed to have character all its own.  Only later did my husband explain to me that it was pieced together with some real ingenuity.  Automobile parts were used by the skilled hands that put this tractor together.  He tells me how someone who knows cars will recognize the unconventional parts used for making it a tractor.  My untrained eye did not see that.  There was just something unusual and interesting about it...that's all I could figure when I chose this as an art reference.

Have you ever seen a completed project and wondered, "how did they do that?"  With artwork, I believe that happens so I enjoy sharing the behind-the-scenes progression of artwork.  Well, here goes!



The Initial Reference Photograph


The first photo is the original, unedited photograph.  The second photo has had adjustments made along with filters that make it more intense.  With a love of vivid color, this contrast in the reference photo is my favorite way to work.  I used a printed photograph along with a digital tablet while I work on the artwork.  



vintage tractor photograph Christy Sheeler 2016



vintage tractor photograph Christy Sheeler Artist 2016



The Sketch


The sketch is drawn on tracing paper.  I draw with the help of a clear plastic grid placed on the reference photo.  The grid under my tracing paper is the other part of the method.  I shared about this in a recent blog post.  



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler




virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



The Color Mixing Grid


This is the color mixing grid as it appeared at the beginning.  The blank squares remaining really came in handy this time!  I felt like those nine resulting mixes were all I needed to get started.  I'll admit, the empty squares bugged me at first.  As the painting process moved along, I found there were more mixes I wanted to note.  Using a mix that's not noted is a mess later.  It's a frustrating uh-oh moment when I realize I can't remember how I mixed to get that specific swatch of color.



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



The Reference Tools


While working on a specific piece of work, I keep the important reference materials together.  The best way I have found to this point:  foam board and binder clips.  The way I display them keeps changing a bit.  The basic method stays the same.  (And both the foam board and the binder clips can be purchased at the dollar store.)  More than one painting going on at once is not such chaos when each painting has its own reference board.  In the photo below, you'll see (top left & clockwise) the tracing paper sketch, the color mixing grid, the printed photo reference, another color mixing grid with other key mixes I'd like to use, and the drawing on watercolor paper.



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



The Watercolor Added


It all begins with soft glazing of pigments like raw sienna, yellow ocher, and burnt sienna.  Or in other words, golden warm tones and earthy red-browns.  These are the first washes of watercolor that make the base for the layers to follow.  They bring out the richness and depth.  It's not something that can be seen right away.  It takes time and patience.  I can't say for sure but I'd guess there are between 4 and 6 layers of pigment in the vibrant, detailed areas.  When asked how long it takes to complete a painting, I have a hard time finding an answer.  Starting with the photo being downloaded from the camera?  All the steps that come before this first brush stroke?  I'd say two weeks minimum...but that's not a definite answer.  It's a mystery, I suppose.



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler




virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



Somewhere in the process of this watercolor painting, my low back and hip began to protest.  I'm so stubborn, neglecting the breaks for stretching.  I didn't want to quit early.  Instead, I set up the plein air travel easel and got back to work.  So here, you'll see a change of working upright.  This made a difference and my back was much happier with me.  The most white details on the tractor and grasses foreground right are masked out with masking fluid at this point.  When ready, I remove the masking and then begin to work at the light areas so they blend in better.  Too white was too much.  In some areas, taking a damp brush and blending the area color into the white areas was all that was needed.



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler



More dark areas have been built in with additional layers of pigment.  The soft golden dried grasses of the background have been added as well.  Now it's time to get busy with some hard critiquing so I know what areas to give more attention.  Nit-picky detail time!  By this time, I'm ready to see it completely finished.



virtual studio tour vintage tractor watercolor in progress 2016 Christy Sheeler


The Completed Painting



The Vintage Tractor Original Watercolor Painting Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist. All Rights Reserved.
The Vintage Tractor in Watercolor, Original by Christy Sheeler Artist


The Vintage Tractor Original Watercolor Painting Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist. All Rights Reserved.



The Vintage Tractor Original Watercolor Painting Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist. All Rights Reserved.



The Vintage Tractor Original Watercolor Painting Copyright 2016 Christy Sheeler Artist. All Rights Reserved.



So, that's all for this virtual studio tour!  Have you enjoyed yourself?  Can I get you another cup of coffee?  The past few days have been cool and rainy.  This morning we woke to a thin blanket of snow.  I must admit, I'd rather have rain but moisture is what we need in any form.  That's April in Montana for ya!  In some ways, I'm relieved because as soon as the weather warms up, I need to get outside.  It's time to plant lettuce, spinach, and peas!  If you want hot days and big, blue skies then that's probably July.  Well, no problem...you stay in your part of the world and we can still enjoy some time talking about art!


Any questions about the methods I used here?  Let me know, I'm glad to tell you more about it.


Thanks again for letting me take you on this tour.  Be sure to stop back again because I'm just warming up... I've got fantastic ideas running around in my head constantly.  It all comes down to figuring out which ones get to be at the top of the list.


This painting will be available in the Etsy shop ChristySheelerArtist within the week.  I've got Giclee prints on order and they'll be here in the studio soon!  I've been approved for offering Giclee prints in the Etsy shop and will be adding those listings in due time.  There's a lot to do and not enough hours...  At some point, I look forward to adding this image to Society6 with my other images there.

Etsy:  ChristySheelerArtist Shop

Society6: Christy Sheeler Artist

Facebook: Christy Sheeler Artist (most frequent updates)

Instagram:  christysheeler.artist


Until next Thursday,

-Christy

she must make art







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