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I ran across a night scene in a photograph from wet canvas that caused me to pause. I had only attempted a couple other night scenes since I began painting and decided to give the above a try. How to do the red dark and still get the sign in the foreground to appear as though it is green in sunlight?  I think learning to make rich dark washes is one of the most difficult skills to learn.

Prior to adding any color to the drawing of the above scene, I went in search of a reference to use for the guy walking past. He is actually from a beach scene photo I have. I put a hoodie and jeans on him and had him carry a small bag instead of a picnic basket and added him to the scene. I used liquid friskit to save his image and  the lettering and neon lighting on building and parking sign.

My first wash of color was aureolin and I applied it in a watered-down wash over the entire scene. I allowed that to dry. On a scrap piece of watercolor paper, I worked some oranges, reds and then greens to experiment with different combinations and values until I got a feel for the colors. I used no browns in this piece other than what was created from the greens and oranges and reds. I like the deep dark colors I was getting from hookers green and fire engine red.  In the deepest dark areas, I would add alizarin crimson with those two colors.  I slowly added washes of orange and red and worked wet-in-wet as I approached the darker areas.  Some areas just had the yellow and orange washes and others, as I moved outward, had the green added to the wash. I was very careful with the amount of water I used as I did this. I did not want the paper to become over saturated.

I painted the municipal Parking sign with green, then red, then green again so it looked a little more green than the other washes.

I waited for all the above to dry. I had to go back in to the deepest dark areas and lay in deeper dark colors and softening edges where the dark colors met the lighter areas. I allowed that to dry. I then took a damp brush and smeared some of the colors from the dark areas over the double windows on the upper left so they did not appear to be in bright light from the Hotel sign.

After all of that dried, I removed the liquid friskit (masking fluid) and painted the areas that required colors, using a small brush. I smeared the dark color of the green sign over the lettering and lighter rectangle beneath that sign so they appeared darker. There were some blues in the neon around the windows and I used that color in the man’s jeans to subtly draw the viewer’s eye to him.

This was a fun painting.

Below are the other night paintings I have tried.

 

Thank you to wet canvas for the reference photos for the above paintings.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Wow, You’re really captured the neon light coming from the sign and the light from inside the store. I like that you added the man walking by. I love the colors and how the glow spreads into the darkness. Really great, Leslie!

  2. the light is magnetic, pulling you into the composition. Your skill of using this red light is amazing!!!!!

  3. These are really nice. I like the red effect on the first one – almost like neon reflection. I never have tried night scenes myself. One winter house portrait was experimentation enopugh for me. LOL

  4. It’s so eye-catching and has a lot of feeling (I usually don’t like that term, but I think it applies here). I was just wondering if a watercolor night/city scene was possible. It certainly is!

  5. Lovely work Leslie – difficult work faultlessly completed. I particularly like the second one. It is very atmospheric and I can almost feel the chilly night air. Apologies for not visiting your site recently.

  6. Wow, the color is so vibrant! It’s a beautiful night street scene.


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