For the background on this project, read January’s Post.
February’s Wanderlust theme was Castles. I got pretty excited and broke out the paints, washi tape, ink pens, and markers and drew a castle from my mind in the ol’ art journal.
I was thinking of these photos when I did the drawing above. It’s the view I had of Prague Castle from my hotel’s parking lot when I visited Prague in 2011.
With the Roads and Paths project, I did some thumbnail drawings first. I didn’t with this one. I had another foggy photo of the castle that I used to do this drawing. One of my latest favorite artists is Marc Taro Holmes…he makes me think I could be an urban sketcher too!
I broke out the ol’ permanent marker and did a preliminary sketch on the canvas from the drawing above and got all excited and was ready to go. Until I thought about it and decided I didn’t know what the bottom of the castle should look like. I was just going to concentrate on the tower, so I coated that sucker with gesso and started again.
Still using my drawing, I drew the detailed part of the towers on the canvas with the marker and started to paint. That wasn’t working out so well, because I could kind of see the old lines and I was covering the new lines and I forgot about putting in the sky first…
…so I coated that sucker with gesso again. A nice thick coat of gesso with some yellow/orange/hot pink (love Opera) and got the brilliant idea to carve the castle out of the wet gesso so I wouldn’t have to draw it again. Genius!
This was such a cool idea. I wiped yellow fluid acrylic all over it and started painting in the castle in shades of purple. I was so excited.
Until I looked at it. All I had was sky and castle. And the castle was practically dead center (not the most interesting composition) so I tried darkening half the castle, and yeah. I had this.
I actually liked the castle. But I couldn’t just “move” it because someone had etched it into the gesso. D’oh!
Fine. I gesso’ed that sucker again, and I could see the etching slightly. Ok, I’ll just add another set of towers.
Too bad they’re not straight. *sigh* Guess what I did? I gesso’ed the snot out of that canvas. It was starting to look like a block. That was a cool effect. Fine. I’ll make it look like a stone block.
And I’m going to change the composition. I’m going with the hotel parking lot. That’s pretty interesting, right?
By this time, I knew I had really screwed this one up. I should’ve made thumbnails to figure out my composition and focal point. It really would’ve made my life a lot easier. I also would’ve saved myself a lot of gesso. And talk about thinking I knew nothing about art. Nothing. I was taking hack to a whole new level.
I blocked in the colors, and ran into a new problem…how can the castle be my focal point when it’s in the fog in the background? I used a fine point marker to add details. Not horrible, but how am I going to do the damn sky? D’oh!
I tried to paint over the people (the dark purple was hard to hide) and I started detailing things and it was going sideways on me again. As I was coating it with gesso again, my boyfriend just shook his head and said, “Again?” as he walked by.
Out of a ton of frustration, I took a palette knife and started scraping. And adding water. And scraping more. Something really interesting happened with all the layers of paint and gesso. It had this rustic kind of look. I don’t know what happened, but I started detailing things again and ended up with this:
I don’t know what happened between this and the photo before. I think it was the paint filling in the old texture that made it look interesting. The old orange/pink started popping through and it looked alive instead of flat.
I’m actually really happy with the final result. It paid to hang in there and persist. I’m so happy I didn’t have to gesso it again! It was a very trying and frustrating process. I hope future paintings go easier than this one. You might want to invest in gesso stock. At the rate I’m going…*laughs*
Have you ever struggled to make art? Have you ever just wanted to throw in the towel and declare that you’ll never do this again? Have you ever thought it was a total waste of your time? Let me know below!