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I’ve always been intrigued by houses half hidden by trees. They arouse all of my worst instincts. The very fact the house is hidden makes me want to spy. I don’t of course, but I want to. The feeling is contradictory in any case because I want a house like that, private and treed. And I certainly wouldn’t want anyone else peering between the leaves.
The house I painted was particularly appealing because of the way the sunlit picked out the front porch. The tree sheltered privacy is an illusion though. And no private person’s privacy was injured by painting it. The house is one of the remaining officers’ houses at Fort Robinson Nebraska. Nor do the trees completely shelter the house, they merely screen it from the parade ground. From the porch one would have an unobstructed view of the northern bluffs. Not a bad thing that.
My painting methods were conventional. I began by tinting the paper with burnt sienna. Then I sketched the house and trees. I painted the house first working from light to dark. Then I added the trees beginning this the trunks. I painted the trees loosely working very wet. Then I scrubbed the edges to soften them and lifted color with a tissue.
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Built in 1894, The Deepwood Estate is a lovely example of Queen Anne architecture. But to my mind, the gardens are even better. There are four acres of these and they get better every year. The indoor and outdoor Deepwood Estate meet on the front porch. Steps from the porch lead to both the front and back gardens as well as the house and separate glassed-in porch.
Looking up at the porch from the front, I was struck by how the trees on the other side glowed in sun.
After cropping my reference photo to emphasize the the view of the backyard, I spent sometime correcting the photo’s perspective. After transferring my sketch to the watercolor paper I built up from light to dark reserving the white paper where the sun hit the porch wall.
The palate was phthalo blue, a little cobalt blue, hansa yellow light, hansa yellow medium, and burnt sienna. I tried to keep the porch shadows as blue as possible to emphasize the green and yellow of the view on the other side of the porch. And I exaggerated the porch shadows to increase the sense of depth and to show off the green and gold trees. I used the sienna very sparingly and only to gray down the blues and greens.
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