Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Portugal Through My Eyes: Évora #2

Y'know how I always claim that I'm gonna do a series of paintings whenever something captures me? And then I move on to the next exciting image?

Well, not this time. Apparently, this image did captivate me. Not quite sure why - maybe it's the fact I loved Évora so much, maybe these two men and their curious stroll appealed to me, or maybe the fact that my second attempt at buildings since I've started to paint turned out to be so much fun. Add to it the fact that I wasn't overly happy with the composition and format of the
previous version - - - I decided to give it another try, and do it bigger.

Took out a half sheet of watercolor paper, changed the composition to be horizontal, being cautious with perspective and all that, and had tons of fun. I changed the men a bit, as they came out a bit too cartoonish in the previous version, and I wanted it to be more of a painting than a sketch. So, I gave the pot-belly guy a quick tummy tuck, changed the clothes for the sake of color consideration, and treated the building a bit differently, going for an even more weathered and peeling look.

At a certain stage, it was a nice watercolor. Fresh colors, hardly any texture, clean washes - like a watercolor should be. The JohnnyB liked it a lot, but I lost all interest in it. To me, it seemed boring; it lacked a story or emotion whatsoever. The JohnnyB said "I've seen paintings with less of a story to them in shows and museums". Well yeah, so have I. Thing is, I did not want to produce this kind of painting.

Which started an interesting discussion: who do we paint for? Are we trying to please our spouses/friends/teaches/critique groups? And if we do produce a painting that makes others happy but we are not satisfied with it, what's the point of creating? Do I want to leave it at the safe stage where it might get compliments but won't make me proud of it, or do I dare taking it a step or two forward?

Frustrated, I took out the white gesso and tried to give some character, breaking the overly-straight lines, adding texture and pretty much molesting the pureness of the colors. Ahhh - that was more like it! As LimaB put it "This is so much more alive!".

I like it much more now. Not sure if there will be a third version of this one, though, as I have other Portugal images that sit in my head and demand to be portrayed.

Plus, I cannot guarantee the man on the right will keep his pose for long... poor guy, he's been waiting waaaaay too long for his friend to move aside and have a peek at that door, I can't help feeling he's just about to explode.

"Évora Stroll #2", Watercolor on W/N CP paper, 21"x14"


Vicki Greene said...

Bravo for continuing on to create something more than just a "nice" painting.

Anonymous said...

If others like it and I don't, it doesn't work for me.
I think what you've shown in this re-try is that it's your eye that is the final decree.

As is your decision to change what reality is to suit your aesthetics.

Holly Van Hart said...

Nava, this one is alive!! i love it! the colors and texture are wonderful. brava! Holly

JohnnyB said...

Hey - I asked what you didn't like about it and got your to think it and say it, so don't complain to much about me holding you back!

But yeah, I'm probably much more stuck on "but that's the way it was", and not wanting to change it to much than even you are.


Valerie said...

Evora #2 makes me want to go there - your instincts are on the mark, it's gorgeous now it's more colorfuland weathered.

Glad you're back and working!!


Nava said...

Vicki, I think you got it right - a "nice" painting is not always enough.

Bonnie, I'm the same as you - I need to like it, which is the ultimate test.

Holly, this building just called for texture. All I did was answered the call :-)

The JohnnyB, indeed - having to say out loud what I didn't like about it has definitely helped. And yes, I guess you're more loyal to reality than me, but hey - artistic license, right? :-)

Valerie, Evora #2 makes me wanna go back there. Shall we?

Diane Fujimoto said...


I've been following your blog for a while now but this is the first time to comment. First of all, thanks for putting into words what I feel sooo often. I can produce a nice painting-but sometimes that's not enough- It needs something- Congratulations on following your gut- and inspiring me that it's ok if I feel a painting needs more. It's ok to keep looking for that thing that makes all the difference. Blogging your process is very helpful- thanks!

RHCarpenter said...

Love it! The composition works well, the colors are delicious and I can almost feel the texture in the walls and doors. Good changes throughout made this a stronger painting. You should be very happy with this one. Perhaps you can have these same 2 men in your next painting, a series of the 2 strollers :)

Nava said...

Diane, welcome to my blog - and thank you for commenting. "looking for that thing that makes all the difference", as you put it, is what's driving me to create.

Rhonda, Great minds!!! I actually thought of taking these two pals and planting them in different locations. The Two Strollers - that could be a fun series :-) said...

I think there is a stage where we paint for others and love to hear praise of our work. But you eventually realize that most people haven't a clue as to whether your painting has merit or not.

You also realize you are never going to be famous or sell your work for millions (and even if you did, so what?) so why not just paint what you like for yourself. You will know if the painting is strong or weak.

Blueberry said...

It looks like you could step right into it, not realistic, but alive as someone else commented. Of course, I would like to see what is inside that shoppe, but mystery is a good thing too.

Jeani said...

I think that #2 makes you feel like you are there. Love it!!!

Carol King said...

Love that you decided to do another version of your painting.

If it was only that easy to get a tummy tuck!

Nava said...

Bill, yeah, I guess you're right. It's painfully bleak, but you are right.

Blueberry, "not realistic, but alive" - this is music to my ears. Thank you!

Jeani, Thanks. It does bring me back to that time in Évora.

Caro, If you stood at that door like this poor guy, waiting forever to get in, you'd have a tummy tuck in no time ;-)

Patrick Ellis said...

really like this one nava. hope all is well.