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Sitting outside at my favorite coffee shop in Portsmouth (Cafe Vonsolln), I can see the steeple of St. John’s Episcopal church peeking out from the trees. St. John’s is a beautiful church with a rich history. The original building was erected in 1732 and was called Queen’s Chapel. It was destroyed in a fire that ravaged the town of Portsmouth in 1806. The current building was built the year after the fire, in 1807.

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I painted the scene on a warm day this past summer while enjoying coffee with Sonia. As I usually do, I first created a sketch of the scene with pencil and then with fine point sharpie pen.

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Then I laid down washes for the sky and the trees in the foreground. For the trees in the background, I painted the sky wash right over what would later become the leafy canopies.

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I focused on getting the light right—on the tree trunks, the shadowed sides of the building, and in the trees. I’m always amazed at how much depth emerges when I add shade areas. I also did something new with the tree canopy. I painted a second “layer” of canopy by adding very light green paint. This created the illusion of even more depth. I really like how it turned out. I didn’t erase the pencil lines from the original drawing, and I like how they add more texture to the painting.

I used my Pentel water brush to add color while on site. It’s so satisfying to walk away from with a complete painting, rather than only a sketch, and the water brush makes this a much more frequent outcome. Overall I really like how this turned out. It’s bright, cheery, and loose.

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