Watercolor lessons – Composition decisions

I happened across a wonderful window as I wandered the cobbled streets of one of my favorite ancient Provencal villages: Saint Paul de Vence. The decaying shutters and time-worn paint on the windows spoke to me of the rustic character so very evident in this evocative part of the world.

The amusing thing was that there, in front of the window, was a rubbish sack – which I hastily moved along the path! Dusted off my hands then plucked up the courage to knock on the door. No-one home – I stood mesmerised for some time – lost in my world of composition and emotion.

I felt this scene was welcoming us in – so to heighten that sense I opened the shutters wider all the time hoping beyond hope that a face wouldn’t appear at the window! The angle from which I chose to paint dictated the angle of the left shutter. The right shutter acted like a guide rail and leads us into the mystery behind the window. I wanted to emphasize the rustic nature of this scene. The finishing characteristic was the fine cord on which the old lace curtains hung bunched up allowing us to imagine some of the mystery within.

When I look at this painting – it transports me back to that little village I love so much and I can feel the warmth of the sun, I can smell the aromas of the Provencal countryside and I can almost hear the birdsong in the air. So that is what it is all about – emphasize the essential character and you will create a feeling, a sense of ‘being there’.

Of course I could have included the entire house in my composition. But why would I, when this cropped scene allows us to share for just a moment – a very special – private place. A momentary glimpse allows us a small insight to the lives and the character of these people and creates the intriguing mystery – what lays beyond?

What a wonderful subject for a watercolor!

Composition decisions - Water Color Art Lessons
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