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Monticello - a full-sheet watercolor

This watercolor painting was a new experience for me.  I had been approached by a friend and a neighbor about larger watercolor for a big empty wall.  Well, that's a tricky thing. Trying to reach across a watery paper and roll it side to side to let the water set correctly is quite a challenge at 22" x 30" - but I was determined. 

So - I asked the friend to give me a few photos that I could use to draft it out, give it a try and then qualified that with a photo of something you might actually want on your wall.  I settled on this one (see below) - which is the side entrance of Monticello in Charlottesville,VA.  If you know this beautiful setting, you would recognize it from the front, but the side is not a typical view.  So, in order to do this painting from the photo, I needed to know what was on the edges, and how the gardens looked when in bloom.  I searched the internet for quite a while to find this, and found out a couple of interesting facts, but definitely could not find find this view expanded.  So..... I made up a beautiful garden along the right side of the walk way - the way I thought it might look best.   This was really one of several artistic licenses I took to create a painting of this amazing building.

 I found that the screens (gray) that sit on either side of the triple rounded windows on this side, were actually not screens for a/c which is what I thought, but Thomas Jefferson actually had them made to provide privacy on this side of the house.  Apparently, he became quite famous in later years and would find people peering in.   I also saw in other earlier photos that the green fencing that guides you to the entrance used to be a white fence with a more ornate design that sort of matched some of the fencing on the rooftops.  I might have liked that more - but I am sure that this is a much easier to maintain alternative.

This is the photo reference (credit to Kerry Sewell) that I used.  I'm not sure if the painting will work for him and his wife, Regina in their new Charlottesville place.  Which is fine -it was a lot of fun learning how to work this large.  Painting now at the framers and will see at some point in the future.  But I know now what it is like to work that large (it takes a while!!) and that you need to put it down, walk way back, take a look and adjust!  I did and redid that fencing shadow a few times; at one point the value was so far off that the shadow's darkness was drawing your eye to the shadow rather than the subject.  Lots of adjustments - lots of joy painting it both in Virginia and Vermont. 

- Lauren

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