Watercolour Garden Gate

Our family has used the gate into this garden for over 50 years. Mary and I can each count over a dozen houses we’ve lived in, but this garden has memories spanning them all. 
Here’s my set-up, sitting half in the hall, with the paper taped to a table that I can push in and out of the sun when I want the paint to dry. 

I’m doing the horizontal lines in the concrete wall by allowing the edges of brushstrokes to dry a little. This is an exercise in ‘over-painting’, to see if I can cover dry paint with strong watercolour. 

First, Here’s the sketch I’m working from:

So; I let that background dry completely and take Cobalt Blue straight from the pan to make the railings of the gate. It covers perfectly well. Isn’t watercolour wonderful stuff?!

I added the two marble plaques on the gateposts, representing Mary’s parents, Evangelos & Mimi (Wilhelmina) Alexandrakis. 

And finally, i added the bougainvillea and jasmine, and titled it, “The Evangelos and Mimi Gate”. 

I think the jasmine wants some more shadows, and the bougainvillea should be wilder. We’ll see. 

Garden Gate v2.0

In order to give the first one away, I’m doing a second original. I’m hoping to do better, by learning from the first. I’ve experimented with getting straight lines by painting against a ruler, and I hope to improve on my pine-trees-and-sky effect. 

Here’s the sketch. As always, the best bits are accidents; in this case Mary walked out with a long handled shovel and provided the challenge of human interest- and a perfect diagonal component to animate the static perpendicular composition around the rectangular gate. Plus, I thought the car would also add another layer of depth to the original 2D flatness. 

My planned “straight lines technique” didn’t work, and I don’t yet have the skill to preserve a consistent colour mix over a long session like the gate railings. I’m still in the “shallow end” when it comes to painting without first sketching. One day I’ll dive off the high board – and use brushes without pencils. 

Meanwhile – how on earth do you paint pine trees? First I did a couple of experiments:

Then I tried to add trees with my dry sky in the background:

I’m about 60% happy with the result. So I’ll try to ‘enhance’ it. Though it will probably get worse. Added the marble “name plates” and the curly bits in the gate. Started the bougainvillea and finished the pine trees. 

Finally – yes, finally – the finished item has the foliage. Then again, I might do a third one if I can make it stronger, less fiddly. 


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