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Day Six : #30x30DirectWatercolor 2018 : Water Tower

June 6, 2018

Another Nothing View!

I’m having too much fun with these. They are so against-type for me. It’s almost a joke among my friends – any Gothic church or over-the-top opera house is a ‘Marc Sketch’. I would never paint something like this water tower! But here it is, and it was fun to do :)

This is a slice of Highway15 Sud that we end up crawling past due to our eternal bridge construction. It’s painted from another drive-by photo – another example of Bad Photos make Good Paintings. We’ll see if, by the end of 30×30, that can become an official rule around here.

I was going to take progress shots, but I got distracted and only have the one. Anyway, here’s how I started – right into the water tower. It’s such a prominent figure in this painting, I guess I couldn’t start anywhere else.

Post Script: Here’s a couple false starts, trying to get in a quick one of this scooter. For some reason, I’m obsessed with failing at drawing motorcycles!

I wasn’t going to show these, but I was feeling guilty. I mean, there was some big talk at the beginning about showing everything, success or failure :) I dunno, about these. They’re a bit rushed. I might try again later.




25 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2018 9:23 AM

    Marc, the motorcycles aren’t failures! You can read a lot into them–they seem like some sort of science fiction laser guns.

    • June 6, 2018 1:36 PM

      That is what I like about them! The retro-futuristic element – so glad that comes across :)

  2. Rita permalink
    June 6, 2018 9:27 AM

    You may consider the motorcycles “failed” paintings, Marc….BUT they are certainly recognizable as motorcycles, and in my book, that is not a fail. As for painting “nothing” scenes, James Gurney is a master at that. I commented once and asked how he forms such mundane/drab scenes into good paintings. He said “I just paint where I am stuck for a while”. I still haven’t developed enough to do that the way I would like to, but his paintings, and yours, and Shari’s (who can also make an ordinary scene SPARKLE) definitely encourage and inspire me.

    • Karen V permalink
      June 6, 2018 10:32 AM

      That’s my attitude: If you can at least recognize what the subject is then it’s a success ;-P I also follow James Gurney and he truly is a master of the Nothing View.

    • June 6, 2018 1:37 PM

      Yup Rita/Karen. Exactly! (And I did say to myself – this looks like one of Shari’s – I must be a real Montrealer now! Painting like a local :)

  3. June 6, 2018 9:31 AM

    It is encouraging that even professionals (you) have “well, I don’t know…” moments. Makes my own “moments” less a life crisis!

  4. Judy Sopher permalink
    June 6, 2018 10:02 AM

    I do appreciate seeing what you think are failures.You are teaching me a lot about progression. And giving me the push I need to keep trying.

    I agree the motorcycles are recognizable with a bit of whimsey-intentional or not. Thanks for the post.

  5. June 6, 2018 10:55 AM

    My “vote” (although voting is inappropriate) is for the lone water tower with clear background. I’m not sure everything has to be a complete ‘scape (picture). Sometimes less is more. I’m a writer and describer, so from my viewpoint, I am wondering what you are trying to convey as you explore techniques . . . nice things to look at or are you illustrating a story or are you trying to find a way to illustrate that springs naturally from your being? Or, is it to enjoy the athleticism of creation? Are your paintings meant to give you the enjoyment of creation or others, the enjoyment of viewing. Obviously, they can be both, but which is the most meaningful to you once you master what you seek?

    • June 6, 2018 1:51 PM

      These are all interesting questions! >>> lets see….

      I think I’d avoid the description ‘nice to look at’ – even in my paintings of very scenic places, I’m hoping to go past just picturesque and yes – be about storytelling. So they are illustrations of my blog writing. “I was there, this is what I saw, you kind of feel like you’re there too.”
      That’s one level of intent to travel sketching.

      But I like the word Athleticism. That I think is bang on.

      I love actually doing the paintings. The act of making the image come alive. When it starts to gel from random marks to becoming a recognizable place. I like the magic trick element, and the ‘sport’. or ‘athleticism’ as you say. The mechanics of pulling off that trick with some flair, or under some challenging conditions. I enjoy painting fast for that reason. And I like the gear aspect – all the tools (brushes, bags) that allow you to head out and field-paint. Much like a mountain climber or backpacker might be constantly talking gear with people.

      I also like the competitive aspect of ‘sport-painting’ as well. Going out with others, seeing if you can beat your personal best. Congratualting each other – and – at the same time judging ourselves next to each other. But in a positive way. Exactly like a sport clibmer. They compete with themselves on speed, technical difficulty – the various ways to push your abilites while enjoying the activity. But they also look for peers at their same skill level (or higher) to push each other.

      Re_ giving the enjoyment of creation to others. hmmm – that’s only a nice side effect? (I hope that doesnt sound bad). But – Like – it’s great that we inspire each other. And that is most of the reason for writing about art in the first place. But honestly becoming an art-instructor happened by accident, and I still consider it a hobby not an avocation. It’s mutual gain right. Everyone I inspire, inspires me back in turn :)

      Good discussion – thanks!

  6. tallboyone permalink
    June 6, 2018 11:47 AM

    Not that my opinion matters, but one thing that bothers me is when I say something is “bad”, but then tons of people try to tell me its good. I think its AWESOME to make someone feel good about their work, but make them feel good about the work they like. There’s a very specific reason an artist will say something is “bad” (usually its something that they’re currently facing as a challenge). So, imagine going up to a person with some kind of fault (say theyre a constant liar) and then telling them “You are AWESOME .. dont worry that the lie wasn’t a big one!”. It’s quite incongruous. I don’t think someone has ever convinced me to like something I originally didn’t like just by saying something. By not acknowledging the artists original feelings you are just steamrolling their current attempt to work THROUGH their challenges… I think people have an emotional reaction to the word “bad” as if they’re being punished by a parent as a kid, and that its BAD. Not liking a painting ISNT A BAD THING. I don’t HAVE to like every painting and neither does Marc. It’s healthy not to like some work because that means you’re growing.

    • June 6, 2018 12:33 PM

      Well – unless the artist is an introvert or has thin self-esteem, I think it is common for him or her to point out error or visual information that does not measure up to the artist’s expectations. I am currently experimenting with pen&ink using felt tips and I like my progress, but there is information I’ve drawn that does not meet my expectations. The book “Show Your Work” speaks to this. IMHO, showing and discussing makes me want to improve, even if what I’m showing is not so darned bad that I’m ashamed of it. . . . . when you are in the display arts (I’m a writer, mainly, plus artist), you are under a hot light and are “painfully” aware of criticism and releasing your work to the public. So, showing some humility (yes, I worked on this project for 12 years, proofed it 50 times, etc.) by discussing weak areas. Maybe, when people like the weak areas, it takes the sting away from suspecting that one has not preformed as well as one should. Bless all the people who adore my pure crap, for example. If they chimed in and said “Karen, why do you even walk out of the door daily. If I were you, I’d hang my head in shame for even attempting your new craft . . .”

      One other thing, the kind of toughness required to put one’s work in public inspired me to do the following: While I’m an OK artist, I submitted a proposal to lead an Urban Sketchers seminar in NYC. Note that the Urban Sketcher has as a strong base some of the artists in the world, like Marc. For me to have the gumption to apply stemmed from years of “putting it out there and being fearless about it” even though I have more than the sneaking hunch that my stuff was not really all that OK . . . (PS: I won’t be doing a seminar in NYC, at least not this year . . .)

    • June 6, 2018 1:55 PM

      Another good discussion! Mainly I agree – and I’d say – “Let’s not take it so seriously :)” Imagine I’m laughing when I say ‘Holy crap that’s horrible!”. Just try and hear that with me laughing uncontrollably (at myself), and that’s the right attitude :) We’re in this game of life to have a good time! Bad is Good! Good is good! It’s all good.

  7. June 6, 2018 12:35 PM

    And I should have proofed my last comments before posting. Just say’n . . .

    • tallboyone permalink
      June 6, 2018 12:42 PM

      It made sense to me :D

      • Rita permalink
        June 6, 2018 12:47 PM

        Lest it was my comment that precipitated the lengthy responses above…I did not mean to negate or in any way challenge Marc’s evaluation of his own work. I was merely saying that in spite of what he thought was not up to pr, it was recognizable (as a motorcycle), and for me, that would be above a “failed painting” It is informative to see what Marc feels did not work. The point of posting it is to show that even accomplished artists do not “nail” it (in their own opinion) every time.

        • tallboyone permalink
          June 6, 2018 12:57 PM

          Hey Rita, it actually wasn’t your comment per se, just speaking more generally. I just see many comments in a similar fashion on every one of these 30×30 posts where marc is being (constructively) critical of his own work (part of growing process), and then its dozens of replies like “its not bad!”. I’m not saying it IS bad, but I also am not negating his own criticism by saying its not. It removes the satisfaction of “the challenge” when people do that to me, so I was just speaking fairly generally if that makes sense.

  8. jcbrown2017 permalink
    June 6, 2018 1:34 PM

    Enjoying and learning a lot from these “every day” scenes. Also liking the ‘bad photo’ idea!

    Thanks for the inspiration! AGAIN!

  9. Sandi Tascarini permalink
    June 6, 2018 2:30 PM

    Thanks for showing your starts and ones that you try over. It’s very encouraging

  10. June 6, 2018 3:48 PM

    I like the motorcycles… and if you do enough of them they could become your favorite thing to paint :-) The water tower is awesome!

  11. Bernadette permalink
    June 6, 2018 4:59 PM

    Such inspiritational work and writings help me in so many ways to tackle scenes that seem overwhelming. Thanks for the great dialog you inspire.

  12. KSt permalink
    June 7, 2018 12:33 AM

    I really enjoyed the post today. I am fascinated by how you turned that scene into art. The liberties you took with color, size and proportions reminds me not to take things so seriously. I generally think I have to stick to abstract painting, ’cause I just can’t get proportions perfect. Love your treatment of the sky. Genius! There is only one thing that bothers me, personally. The water tank looks like it has a nose to me….sort of pig-like. But I’m one of those crazy people who see faces everywhere. LOL. Love your work! BRAVO!

  13. Jerry Bukiewicz permalink
    June 7, 2018 12:10 PM

    Interested in why you choose to paint on individual sheets of paper instead of a sketchbook. Considering doing the same and am interested in your thinking on this. Maybe you could do a blog post on the topic sometime.

    • June 7, 2018 12:13 PM

      Hey Jerry – the most basic reason is you can’t close your book when the pages are wet. That and I like to change sizes and formats and it’s easier to frame and easier to toss out bad ones :)

      • Jerry permalink
        June 7, 2018 7:43 PM

        Thanks Marc. Makes a lot of sense. Gonna try it out.

  14. June 8, 2018 1:40 AM

    Marc, what you deem as a fail I would be proud to consider a success – were I able to paint anything as good as your “fails.”

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