James Toogood comments on Judy Morris' watercolor painting Chinatown: San Francisco.
by James Toogood
|Chinatown: San Francisco
by Judy Morris, watercolor, 34 x 28.
This is a delightful piece, not overly serious but beautifully executed. It's a fairly simple palette; the colors seem to be cadmium red, perylene maroon, permanent alizarin, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue, phthalocyanine green, and quinacridone gold. I don't think she would need anything else. Overall, the piece is painted very cleanly, and there's a certain economy to the way the artist applied the paint.
This watercolor is at once naturalistic and also fairly graphic. The red lanterns, the kites, the lights, and the buildings all lead the eye down the street, but even before you do that, you look up at the curtain along the top of the composition. It's a very interesting red shape that stops the eye for a second. Then you notice the pattern of bamboo and perhaps floral elements in the sky. The area becomes flattened by these graphic patterns--the watercolor at once presents a two-dimensional and three-dimensional feeling. Morris always seems to enjoy finding an interesting way of looking at things, and here's she's actually put bamboo in the sky.
Note the way she has indicated a gentle breeze--the kites are starting to move a little bit. The movement of the wind on that fish kite in particular points directly at a secondary vertical, the lamp, which can lead you either back down the street or up to the curtain. Morris invites the viewer to circle around the composition several times, and each time you do, you notice different things.
Read Toogood's tips for achieveing optimal effects with watercolors.
Read more features from the Looking at Watercolors series.
New Jersey resident James Toogood AWS/NWS studied at
the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, in Philadelphia. The subject
of more than 40 solo exhibitions, he has participated in numerous group
shows, including those of the American Watercolor Society and the
National Academy of Design, winning many awards. He frequently juries
exhibitions and was an awards juror for the 2006 American Watercolor
Society annual. Toogood is the author of Incredible Light and Texture in Watercolor,
(North Light Books, West Chester, Ohio) and he has written many
articles and contributed to several other books. His work is widely
collected throughout the United States and abroad, and he is
represented by Rosenfeld Gallery, in Philadelphia. The artist teaches
at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy
School of Fine Arts, in New York City, and the Perkins Center for the
Arts, in Moorestown, New Jersey. Toogood also conducts watercolor
workshops throughout the United States.