I started this watercolor over a year ago. It was a part of a series of drawings of women doing various thing and I had the idea that maybe someday when I got better at oils I would paint them. But I thought I’d do some watercolor sketches first. I got it to this stage:
and then I got stuck. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, so I stuck it in a box and forgot about it.
At the Vermeer exhibit earlier this fall I remembered this series. In the painting I posted, there is a similar lighting scheme: cool light in the foreground and warm light from outside the door. I suddenly realized that what was wrong with my watercolor was a third source of light: the foreground was much too bright and it sapped the light from the window and door. It’s such a simple lesson but it’s easy to forget: if you want to make something look bright put something dark next to it.