While traveling through Northern California last year I found a Japanese Sumi colour set in a fabric store of all places. It’s a paint I’m not used to using and would describe as an intense, gummy type of watercolour. This painting, created within days of the purchase, is a mixture of traditional watercolours with the sumi paint. I love the intensity and fluidity of the sumi colour and used it wherever strength and presence was required.
To compose this en plein air study I used a mathematical approach, one that I designed and taught in schools. The gist of this method is to think about the main elements as pieces in a puzzle and assign a percentage or fraction to each part. Another way to look at it is what element takes up the most space, which the least and what’s in between. In this painting the air is about 20%, water 25% which leaves more than 50% of the painting being land partially because there are two pieces; a foreground piece and a background shape as well. Because of the dominance of land it was important to me to leave some of the foreground land unpainted; open space for resting the eyes. This area in the foreground also connects to and balances the lightly rendered sky in the background.