For some time now, I’ve wanted to draw the house I grew up in. It didn’t make much sense to do it before I started using color, considering the signature red roof. But I never ended up approaching it with colored pencils, either. I think that I must have been waiting until I could do a livelier interpretation. So in come the watercolors! I started the drawings in pencil but wanted the more vibrant appearance of the ink, and some of the final details were done in pen (wavy lines, anyone?)
What was fun about this project was drawing the same thing multiple times—but from different angles and points of view. I’ve never really done anything like that before; I always draw things just once, and they either turn out looking good, or not. By the end, I didn’t even need to look at my references to complete some of the details, because I already had an idea of where everything went. Yes, the drawings are somewhat sloppy and certainly imperfect, but to me, that’s kind of what the whole “study” thing is about: getting the feel for a subject, without necessarily getting it 100% “right.”
For the watercolor, I used a size 2/0 rigger brush, a number 8 round brush, and a 3/8” oval wash brush. As far as colors, it was primarily Medium Cadmium Red/ Alizarin Crimson and Cerulean Blue. I also incorporated a bit of Lemon Yellow as well as Lamp Black and Chinese White when I was mixing colors.
Now that I think about it, I focused more on getting everything “colored in” than on the intricacies of light hitting the roof, for example, but the reference pictures weren’t great for that anyway. So I don’t think I really advanced my watercolor skills all that much here, but it doesn’t hurt to keep working with the medium, and I did achieve the overall effect I set out for. When I look at this page I don’t think “This isn’t my best work” (although it surely isn’t). Instead, I think about how the final product is cool and fun, if a bit sloppy.
The worst part of these drawings/paintings to me is the borders of the dormer windows, which I misremembered as stained rather than painted wood (because that’s what they are on the inside) when I wasn’t looking at the reference. So you can see a lot of messiness there where I tried to do a cover-up with white paint and then dig in felt tip-pen over the top…Also the poor afterthought that is the chimney. And, now that I look closer, this window that appears to magically wrap around the side of the house.
Oh well, I’m not exactly planning for this one to go in a museum (maybe next time). Although this does make me want to be a little more careful and pay better attention to detail next time.
To balance that out, let me try to articulate what the good parts are! I like the overall look of how everything turned out. I’m happy with the color of the roof and porch; they may not be exactly accurate, but they’re basically what I imagine when I picture the house in my mind. I’m glad that I added some shading (though I wasn’t all that precise or consistent with it) to give a little bit of depth. In terms of personal achievements, letting myself go outside the lines sometimes and letting go of mistakes and just moving on was a big part of this project. I did concentrate and I aimed for some level of precision, but didn’t let the lack of it upset me. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily even “finished” these, but I did enough to portray what I was going for. This is just the kind of playful work I want to be doing, working toward an eventual goal of being able to look at a piece in this style and say “This is my best work.”
It’s funny, despite the whole “drawing through” concept (explained in my very first post), I didn’t even think for a second about capturing the back of the house! Granted, I don’t always remember to take my own advice. And who generally looks at the back of a house? I think this part of the study came out the best:
Some day I might revisit the house with colored pencil, where I can give in to my obsessive need for tidiness and precision. But that wasn’t what this particular project was about. I hope to do more House Studies in the future, observing various places around town. Perhaps I will eventually be able to draw a study like this based on brief on-location sketches (rather than reference photos, which I’m trying to get away from).