Today we went to Mdina, Malta’s former capital. It is an old town with narrow streets, the only place in Malta where there are not so many cars. Alvaro painted a street with a church backlit.
His first wash included hot and cold, that’s important. After it dried, he painted dark gray buildings, which surprised many, but he explained that it was backlit.
The buildings were painted quickly and in one sweep, you can barely see the border between them. He also put in a cloud by the church which at first looked very dark but then faded and became absolutely perfect. He tinted the ground and placed two cyclists who happened to pass by, one leaning to show movement. It began to rain and Philip held an umbrella with a steady hand over the master’s painting. Raindrops can be devastating on a watercolor.
I then tried to paint the same motif, to connect the buildings and leave the light ground. On the other hand, I wanted a warmer color for the houses, but it was difficult to make the walls, they were not as even as I would have liked. I placed two people in the picture and Alvaro thought that one more was needed, a little bigger and closer. He also thought I should remove the vertical lines on the houses. I did as he said Alvaro thought it turned out well, and patted me on the back. 🙂
We then had two hours to paint ourselves. I found a square with a wall where people took in the wide view of Malta. It was raining and I found a small sheltered spot in front of a shop. The rain meant that you could not choose a view, but were allowed to paint where you were protected from the rain. I thought it went well, it sparkled in the street and I forgot to put umbrellas on the figures. Sometimes there was a little rain on the paper so the sky became a little patterned.
We then gathered in a museum and we got to line up our pictures along the wall. Alvaro sat down with a laser pointer and commented on all our pictures. Alvaro didn’t like my picture, it was the wrong colors to be Mdina. The figures were the wrong size in relation to the car.
Alvaro then stayed in the room because the rain had increased and it was not possible to be outside. Alvaro painted a wall with two paintings and a larger mirror in the middle. He turned the large mirror in the center into a painting and placed two people and a chair in the room. Looked difficult but turned out very well in the end. He primed the wall with red, alizarin, then painted over it with cerulean blue. Priming with a contrasting color made the blue color shine, he said. Notice how the painting is very bright behind the people, all to increase the artistic contrast.
Then we had to paint ourselves in the room. It was difficult to find something to paint from and I sat down and polished my previous paintings. Alvaro went around painting on our pictures. It was fun and I ended up in one of the pictures. Not everyone has been painted by Alvaro Castagnet 🙂