I love doing the Virtual Paintout, strolling around a city in Google Streetview and picking a scene to paint. This sketch is a preliminary study for an oil painting still in progress. The location is Nicolas de Pierola and Jr. Cańete Streets in Lima, Peru. Here’s a link to the map: http://goo.gl/maps/hQdsp.
Below is the original screenshot plus a few other streetview pictures from around Lima. Although the city looked very beautiful, I’m often drawn to funkier parts of town.
Doing a Virtual Paintout seemed like a good warm up for the plein air painting season. March’s Virtual Paintout location is Vilnius, Lithuania. It was fun using Google Street View to cruise around Lithuania, where some of my ancestors are from.
I started with a watercolor sketch in my giant Moleskine A4 watercolor notebook (which is proving too large to be practical to carry with me all the time but is great for a studio journal). I had trouble with the sky and clouds so did some cloud studies (below). When I paint in watercolor I prefer juicy, wet washes but they don’t work well in sketchbooks; the paper buckles, the water pools, and I can’t get the results I want. I need to start working on real watercolor paper again or use much less fluid on my brush.
I used some no-longer-available, very sedimentary Manganese blue in the top left sky above. I was really sad when they stopped making it as it was my favorite color, but apparently it was highly toxic for the miners.
At first glance, the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson in El Cerrito is boring, boring, boring: a wide busy avenue with boxy buildings. But when viewed on a lovely summer day from a cafe table outside Peet’s Coffee with pen in hand, it transforms itself into a sketching delight full of fun details and color.
Looking the other way down San Pablo, the Wells Fargo Bank building holds little hope for drawing inspiration. But start sketching and it too transforms itself. There are trees of all kinds and colors. A cerulean sky with only a hint of clouds, a pink apartment building and a gold dentist office. Sun, shadows, banners.
Not boring! I don’t think I’ve ever felt bored when I was sketching. Years ago a friend told me that when I was sketching I looked like I was roller-skating. Whee! Let’s skate!
Six inches is just too small! I chose a 6×6″ panel for this project because I thought I’d just do something quick for Virtual Paintout and then get on with my “real” painting projects. But I end up putting just as much work into this small painting as I would a big one.
When it was “finished” I kept seeing one more little thing to adjust until suddenly it was 7:00 p.m. and it was too late to go to my REAL paintout/sketch group. And I had paint all over my hands because I’d taken off my gloves when I thought I was done an hour before.
What’s important is that I had fun and as with every painting, learned something. And I got to spend some time “on” the Cote d’Azur. Wow is that place spectacularly beautiful and loaded with wealth, from what I could see wandering around on Google Streetview. Here is the original scene on Streetview.
During a very rainy week it’s been wonderful to have this sunny view to paint from Google Street View for Virtual Paintout‘s March location of Cape Town, South Africa. It will be interesting to see how (and hopefully if) my winter practice with landscape painting in oil carries over to painting real landscapes outdoors. Now that the rainy season seems at last to be over I will soon find out!
A note about the color in the photo: despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the foreground shadow on the path to perfectly match the color in the painting which is a little more purple and a little less bright.
Here’s the original Google Streetview image:
If you’re interested in the actual location, just click here for the map. And if you’d like to purchase this painting for $100, just click here.