Monday, April 4, 2011

Plein Air Week 2: Rengstorff House

 This week I'm going to be painting Rengstorff House, which is the oldest historic house in the town where I work.  Tonight I did a small (7x9ish) from this photo:  Rengstorff House

I did a trace of the photo onto the paper so I didn't have to worry about the drawing skills (or lack thereof).  I wanted to focus on composition and value for this first pass at home.

There are lots of things I'd do differently, but I'm pretty proud of this effort.  It is the first building I've done that looked halfway decent.

Lessons learned:
  • I meant to have the three main visual elements be the chimney, the rosebush on the lower right, and the upstairs windows, in a kind of triangle.  I think I could tie them together better using a common color, which shouldn't be hard... I'll just use that chimney red in all three.
  • I need to figure out that tree in the center - it has taken over the whole thing!  And it's not very appealing for the main element to be right in the middle of the picture.
  • I also need to figure out the hedge in the front and the big shady area on the side.
  • The trees behind and on the left side should be a few values darker, and I'll probably eliminate the tree on the far right completely and make up a rose-garden there.
  • A more vivid blue sky behind the house would probably frame it really nice too, and then I could do the very top balcony part in all white with some dark blue for the railings... it'd probably make a great contrast.
I'm hoping to do a quick lunch time visit over there in the next couple of days and take some photos and find an angle I really like, then do at least one more practice sketch at home before I get out the new big paper.  I splurged and bought a big block.  And honestly, with paper that big I'm really going to need a bigger brush!

The next night I did another painting of the same scene but on bigger paper (not the big paper, just 9x12):

At first I didn't like it as much as the first - The tree in particular is not as good, but some of the shadows are nice, and there are less muddy problem areas.  I think with more contrast it could have been better than the first.

I took a trip to Rengstorff House today to check things out.  It was such a beautiful day!  After taking some photos I couldn't resist doing a quick sketch of a little garden shed on the grounds.

I ended up doing this painting with my little paints kit and waterbrush.  As usual, it doesn't have enough contrast, and I would have loved to have more time on it, but I really loved painting the flowers on the tree.

I went with a small group of people and did another painting of Rengstorff House.  I took some liberties with the landscaping, and my final result kind of defies the laws of nature, so try to ignore the pond on the hill.  :)  Another valuable thing I realized with this painting was that I need to use different colors, especially my greens, to indicate Spring.  Last, I regret using the brown tones for the house and not saving enough white.

I am going back to Rengstorff House again during lunch this week for another try and I'll post my progress here.  It is such a beautiful, peaceful location that it's a pleasure to spend time there.  I'm also going to start a new thread for another location I'm going to start this weekend.

Here's another attempt from the same angle as last time:


Cindy said...

I think your work is really good! My Fiance and I are getting married at Rengstorff house in May of 2012...would be interested in commissioning a piece if you are up to it.

RainyPM said...

Dear Cindy,

You are so kind! I'm really just a beginner, but I'm so flattered that you'd ask me to do a painting of your future wedding site. What a wonderful way to remember where you were married.

If you'll let me know what you have in mind, I will keep practicing and maybe I can come up with something you'd like.

You can reach me directly at