Saturday, February 28, 2009


At long last I have completed the Temple of the Four Winds!

Since my last blog I have focused on adding all of the multiple layers to the painting. This can undoubtedly be the longest phase of the painting but god is in the details and I easily and happily get lost in them. It takes many successive washes to create all of the middle and darker tones. Rather then paint the building as it might have looked in the 18th century I wanted to focus on the beautiful patina that the pavilion had acquired after nearly three centuries of existence.

To achieve the depth of the architectural details and the shadows I added many layers of mixed burnt umber, and French ultramarine in various degrees of color saturation.

I used three washes of burnt umber and French ultramarine to achieve the nearly black windows. To create the window muntins I used my ruling pen with Chinese white gouache, which is much more opaque then watercolors. Allowing me to layer over the black watercolor once it has completely dried. This is a much easier process then painting the individual window and door muntins.

It's interesting how one becomes totally immersed in the subject matter their painting. In painting buildings I almost become lost in the fantasy of the structure I am reproducing. Even if I have never visited the actual building I almost can feel as if I am actually standing in front it. I can almost feel the warmth of the stones as the sun strikes and creates it's dramatic shadows. To achieve realistic shadows you must really imagine the sun hitting the building. Of course observation in reality is a must. I try to always keep my camera with me so that I can document shadows. Because of all of our wonderful classical buildings, DC is a fantastic place to observe how the shadows cast themselves on the buildings.

Towards the end of a painting I find myself already becoming excited about my next subject. I have several ideas in mind so I will keep you all posted.

Thanks to all who have been so encouraging of my work. It really inspires me to keep going!


designgirl said...

Absolutely love your blog on your gorgeous watercolor. You are indeed very talented. Thanks so much for sharing the details. How did you transfer the trace copy to the watercolor paper? Did you use carbon paper? I am an Interior Design student and am still struggling with elevations and perspective. Thanks again.

Scot Meacham Wood said...

The Temple of the Four Winds has never looked better.
It has been so interesting watching the work evolve over the last few months.
GREAT work, and congratulations.

Michael Hampton said...

Hi Designgirl,

Thanks so much for your comments.

I have heard of artists using carbon paper but I always worry that it might smudge my watercolor paper, especially if I am using a textured paper. I prefer just good old, and inexpensive tracing paper.

Where are you studying?

Thanks again,


Michael Hampton said...

Hello Tartanscot,

Thank you very much for your nice comments and for following the blog. I see that your from SF. Something tells me that we must have met at one point. I worked as a designer for many years in SF before I moved to DC a little over four years ago.

I have been enjoying your blog too! Blogging has connected me with so many talented people such as yourself.



ArchitectDesign™ said...

WOW, this turned out fabulously! I remember from school how hard these drawings can be (mine never even came CLOSE to yours in quality). Congratulations; It's a masterpiece!

Unknown said...

It's gorgeous!!! Your hard work has paid off in this beautiful rendering. I adore the detail of the dripping pigment on the roof. It is such a joy to watch you working through the watercolor process. Can't wait to see what you paint next!

Scot Meacham Wood said...

LOL . . . knowing how 'tiny' the SF design community is, I'm quite sure we must have met at some point wandering through the Design Center.

I've only started blogging in the last four months or so, but it never cease to be surprised at the amazing talent (both artistically and writing skills) that we all seem to delight in.

Glad you're enjoying the blog . . . it' been great fun to awake each morning and see if I can come up with something to write about.


Michelle said...

Been following the process in aww. I love the finished piece. The light and shadow is so perfect.

I think I render in a looser style to hide the fact that it is not as difficult as this. You must cringe at the thought of a mistake along the way...

Absolutely Gorgeous!
Best to you...can't wait to see what you do next.

Unknown said...

Gorgeous! What an incrdible talent you have! Such painstaking and beautiful work :) Thank you so much for sharing wiht us!

pve design said...

Your work is spectacular. Thank you for sharing your hard work and the steps, the process. It is truly incredible. Love the devil in the details.

Lord Cowell said...

Dear Michael,
I love your work, and think you have a gift at capturing not only the architectural elements of classical architecture, but also the moods that these monumental buildings inspire when are there in person. I have included your picture, with credits, in a posting I am writing about Castle Howard - I hope that is OK. It is just such a stunning piece.
David of Willowbrook Park.

Liz Steel said...

I have just discovered this (thanks to roaming on Making a Mark) and absolutely love it! Such a wonderful contrast to my own on the spot quick sketch last year - it is a wonderful building!!!!