This September 2011, my watercolor works will be on exhibit at the Le Mars Arts Council. Le Mars, IA, home to Wells, Blue Bunny, is known as the ice cream capital of the world. The company recently moved their beloved ice cream parlor and museum to the historic George E. Pew building (circa 1875) on Central Avenue in the downtown district. The new parlor opened in June during the town’s annual ice cream day’s festivities and to say this new downtown jewel has been a buzz ever since is an understatement. I decided I would try my hand at developing a watercolor of the new parlor. If I can do it justice, I will exhibit it at the Arts Council next month.
I began by taking several photographs of the parlor. The bright neon sign spoke to be a focal point and convinced me the painting should be a night scene. As luck would have it, I was able to capture two children exuberantly climbing upon the outdoor sundae sculpture. Now the painting would come alive!
I sketched a perspective drawing of the parlor, including the sundae sculpture, children, and their parents seated at one of the outdoor tables. I included the suggestion of the parlor’s business neighbor, First National Bank, further establishing the new downtown site.
I repeated to myself several times, “perspective drawing is not the boss of me.” Luckily, my dear daughter Annemarie, a graphic design student at Creighton University, shared a tip she learned at school for checking perspective lines. String! I used this tip to confirm my lines converged correctly at the vanishing point off the page.
I masked the building roof lines to save the white paper on these structures. I mixed creamy puddles of cobalt blue, royal blue, alizarin crimson, and burnt sienna to achieve a night sky. I painted the night sky using a wet into wet (wet the paper first) wash technique.
After drying thoroughly, I removed the masking fluid and painted the neon sign. Since this is a focal point, the use of bright colors, bright whites, strong darks, and detail will all aid in drawing the viewer’s eye. I chose permanent yellow, opera, scarlet lake, and peacock blue to paint the bright colors of the sign.
The lettering was slow going but the end result was well worth the persistence.
Stay tuned for additional photos and descriptions as I continue to develop this painting over the next couple weeks.
Thanks for looking! ~Jean