Populating Landscapes

I don't remember where I first saw the expression "populating landscapes", but it seems to describe very well the action of adding human figures to a landscape as a sort of "accessory" -- as opposed to a person or persons being the main feature or the main focus of the painting.

The only problem with that idea was that I had no clue how to achieve the kind of simplified, stylized, faceless figures that I was seeing in the kind of watercolour paintings that I like: from Ron Hazell to Alvaro Castagnet, and everyone in-between.

Each artist has his or her own formula for rendering people, and that includes Bob Davies, the author or the Watercolour Secrets DVD course that I've just bought. He starts out with a small circle on top of an upside-down cone which he fills out with clothing, and that's about it. It's effective enough.

On Saturday, I took out a quarter sheet of 200-lb paper, inserted the Figures DVD into the laptop, and followed Bob's directions. These are my first attempts at the basic male and female figure:

After a few hours,  I could see a definite improvement.

Sunday morning, I turned the sheet around and continued with the exercises on the DVD. First a family, then a cyclist, and finally a couple in love. Here are my results:

As you can see, I made a few corrections with gouache on the shoulders of the man on the left -- my guys' shoulders always seem to end up too wide -- and to the handlebars of the bicycle. But the couple on the right turned out pretty good right away, even the dog. I did deviate from Bob's example by putting the man's arm on the woman's back.

Speaking of Ron Hazell, he does his people quite differently, more like two cones: one for the top and an inverted one for the bottom.

For my last figure, I copied one of his women. If you look at his gallery, she's in A Summer Morning (No. 3). I think I did pretty well.

I took this sheet to the class on Wednesday, and everyone seemed to like my little figures.

I'm almost ready to start populating my landscapes.

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