Art Adventures

Posts tagged ‘watercolor painting of musicians’

He might have stayed home and nursed his indecision. He had a dream, this musician. It was to play in front of an adoring, appreciative crowd and make some serious cash doing so. That morning, when he woke up, he lounged in bed, wracked with indecision. How best to make it big? He could look online for work, or maybe see if his friends got a gig and hook up with them. Or maybe go down to Seattle Pike’s Place Market and play for the folks there. Someone might see him and offer up a job as a musician. Or…he could have just hung around the apartment and thought about it.

But guess what. He didn’t. He didn’t stay in his apartment and mull it over. He got up and did something about his dream. He performed. Because I can tell you with a 100% certainty that nothing would happen if he just sat at home and thought about it. And maybe this is the day where the high-tech google-guy walks by, hears him play, and offers him a gig at his home for a party. His dream starts. Just by stepping out the door and doing SOMETHING. Here’s to you, Mr. Musician. Thanks for getting up and going down to Pike’s Place Market and playing music. Even though most people rush by and don’t even notice you. Even when your music is drowned out by the chatter and the cars and the ear buds. Thank you for being there. I noticed. I noticed and took a photo, and you are now on my “famous” (ehem) blog, and in an incredible (yep) painting. You might not have made much money today, or maybe you did, but you did pursue your dream today. So should we all. Don’t stay home and mull over indecision and possible failure. Just start.

The Painting

The photo of this musician sat propped up in my studio for 3 weeks while I worked on other paintings. I had been planning on placing this musician in the middle of the market chaos, but struggled with a good composition. Here is a thumbnail sketch I worked on:

Rain jazz sketch

Then suddenly, a simple solution presented itself.  Colorful vertical lines representing rain found their way into the background of the Seattle market behind the musician. Here’s how:

I began by loading my brush with a deep, rich combination of quinacridone burnt orange and ultramarine blue. After laying in the color vertically from the top of the painting down to the musician’s shirt, I washed the brush out and shifted the color to contain more burnt orange. Another vertical line later, I added cobalt blue to the mix.


First wash of deep value color in the background, connecting to the musician’s hat

Next, cerulean blue melded into the vertical lines while I continued the pattern all the way across the top of the painting, changing the intensity and color depth along the way. Before reaching the bottom of the canvas, I sprayed water into the paint, tilting the surface and allowing the drips to run all the way down the canvas. I tied in the guitar color with the background by using the same burnt orange.

Alternating the colors across the top and allowing drips to fall down the canvas

Alternating the colors across the top and allowing drips to fall down the canvas

I continued the pattern across the top of the canvas, starting the drips earlier on the right hand side to give interest to the composition, and painting around the music stand.

Continuing the background across the painting

Continuing the background across the painting

Once I finished the background, I introduced color into the musician and his clothes. Red/orange seemed a good choice, contrasting sharply with the background blues. His tie is cerulean, connecting again with the background.

Rain Jazz detail

Warm red for his shirt provided a nice contrast to the background

Once I painted the colors and values, I removed the liquid mask I had applied earlier, to reveal the reflected whites on top of the musician’s clothes. I used a damp brush to soften lines in the clothes.

Rain Jazz, 11x15, Watercolor and collage on plexiglass

Rain Jazz, 11×15, Watercolor and collage on plexiglass. Original $300, prints available.

As you can see in the final painting, the shirt offers a warm counterpoint and a bright focal point for our musician friend. Collaged circles of sheet music show up in the background and give the painting texture and interest. Seattle rain drips and runs around him, but he pays no mind. Thanks again, Mr. Musician, for getting up this morning and playing in the rain to inspire us all! Pursue your dream, people! And Feed the Beast!

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All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.

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I didn’t expect to be flung back into my teenage self when I went to Portland Saturday Market last year. Yet that’s exactly what happened as I rounded a corner and witnessed a small band of three guys, dressed in depression-era clothing, playing music.

I immediately felt the wheeze of air and the rounded chord buttons beneath my fingers from my old accordion. I heard my brother plunking out a rousting rhythm on the banjo and we were both singing our hearts out. I could smell smoke from the wood fireplace and Mom’s homemade bread in the oven. “Mr. Bo Jangles” was our song of choice when we jammed, played over and over again with what seemed like amazing finesse. As a gangly, freckled 14-year-old girl playing the accordion, I was under no illusion that I could be considered cool. Or interesting. Uhmmm…this was the 80’s, people. No one “cool” even TOUCHED an accordion. But when my then-24-year-old brother played his banjo and I sang along and played the accordion? I actually felt cool. Really.

The three twenty-something guys at Portland Saturday Market WERE cool. They had a Portland retro-urban-folksy thing going on in a big way. When I snapped a photo of them, I wanted to paint my memories, infuse them with the vibe of these guys, and capture the surrounding organized chaos of Saturday Market.

I began by layering in collaged strips, along with randomly placed squares of sheet music, symbolizing their songs permeating through the market. Shiny areas shown below are dried liquid mask, protecting the whites of the gessoed plexiglass. I also used 3-D fabric paint to scribble on the surface, further illustrating the rhythm of the music and chaos of colors, smells, and sounds.

musicians detail 1

Detail of the drawing with strips of sheet music and liquid mask

Now I could fling paint without worrying about saving whites. I used a neutral green color scheme with areas of Daniel Smith’s Quinocridone Burnt Scarlet as my red accents. When I paint a large wash like this, I change colors on my brush often and let them mingle on the palette. Following my value plan, I washed in mid- to light-neutrals in a “T” shape composition, with the most intense green and red on the central figure. I tilted the plexi at a sharp angle to induce drips and splatters into the white foreground.

musicians detail 2

First wash using a “T” composition

After the first wash dried (I usually help it along with a blow dryer), I went into the figures and deepened value, intensified color, and added detail.

musicians detail 3

Second wash, enhancing values, saturation, and detail

I struggled to get the value deep enough, so went with a darker paint, Daniel Smith’s Sodalite Genuine, adding it to all the dark areas.

musicians detail 5

Darker values added using Sodalite Genuine

I didn’t like how the Sodalite muddied up most of the colors. It is better used with cool tones. Since this painting is mostly warm, the paints didn’t play nicely with one another. I removed most of the Sodalite with a wet brush and went back into the painting using Ultramarine Blue as my dark receding values.


After wiping out all the Sodalite Genuine, I painted Ultramarine Blue in its place

Below, I replaced the Sodalite with Ultramarine Blue in the background trees. Plastic wrap protects the musicians from getting water drops on them.

musicians detail 7

Using Ultramarine Blue for the background trees.

Much better! Brighter, and not so dreary:

musicians detail 8

Detail of musicians with Ultramarine blue in background

Especially the difference in the guitar case:

Musicians copyright

Final painting, Musicians at the Market, 16×12, watercolor and collage on recycled plexiglass

Musicians at the Market reminds me of both the Saturday Market and the times I had playing music with my brother. The music I heard at the market, though, triggered the memory. What music triggers an immediate response from you? Is there a song that transports you to a different time or place? It’s weird how music does that. Maybe more than any other trigger.  What do you think? Comment and let me know. 🙂


To purchase, send me an comment. I accept PayPal and will email a PayPal invoice.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter and follow this blog to be informed of amazing new paintings and deals!

Keep creating to Feed the Beast! Support each other, people!:)

All images and paintings on this site copyrighted by Sarah B Hansen.


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