Tuesday, May 31, 2011

may watercolor challenge: wet canvas

i have been a bit under the weather from a virus i most likely picked up out in south dakota given the usual incubation time of viruses. while still symptomatic, i have done some painting on this month's watercolor challenge from wet canvas. i doubt i will finish it before june starts but i should put on the final bit of paint by the first few days of the soon to be new month. the inspiration for this month's challenge is a photograph of one the moderator's family holding a newborn chick when she was a young girl. here it is:

it will be a challenge both because of the pose but also the bright lighting on the subjects with a very dark background so it is aptly named. i started out by drawing the figure on a piece of 15"X18", 140#,  fabriano artistico traditional white cold press paper. per usual i began painting on the figure's face. cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale are the main colors in my flesh tome and i add a bit of cerulean blue to cool it down and darken the value when necessary.  while i mix the red and yellow a bit on the palette i almost always add the cerulean wet in wet on the paper. it just seems to stay fresher and cleaner that way.

starting with the under plane of the nose i put in the shadow shape and then after cleaning and shaking the brush i drew out the paint already applied up and over the top and side planes of the nose. i tried to leave the highlights where appropriate over the tip and mid wing above the nostril. this shape was continued into the shadow of the crease on the far side of the nose where the upper lip and cheek meet. turning to the far eye, i painted in the shadow under the upper lid with a much darker mix of the same colors (more cerulean added). the next step was painting the upper part of the iris with cobalt blue. using the same technique on the bottom of the iris i pulled some of the color down with a damp clean brush. for this work i was using pretty much #4 and #6 round sables. i released the bottom of the iris into the lower lid using the same maneuver. the important shape defining the medial aspect of the socket was then painted putting down a dab of blue initially and then drawing down to the medial cheek and over the medial upper lid using the red/yellow mix, including the shape of the eyebrow in this part of the wash. i will add the brow wet in wet after this dries some with burnt umber dabs in appropriate places. by now the iris was sufficiently dry enough to place the pupil using ultramarine blue wet in wet and still maintain the shape pretty well. this area of the painting was finished by putting in some of the hair lateral to far eye to give this area a place in which to be released. this whole thing is reiterated pictorially in the close-up.
a dab of paint (alizarin crimson and cadmium red light) in each corner and the middle of the upper lip started the process on the mouth. i drew this out with a damp clean brush (#6 round) and drew the same type of brush horizontally across the far corner and mid lip of the near side. there was enough paint left there to do the same with the lower lip leaving the highlight in the middle alone. i did the near eye structures with the same technique as described for the far eye and tied the shadow of the medial socket with that on the near side of the nose. i started the side shadow of the face by placing a spot of cerulean blue lateral to the eye defining that side plane using a #10 round and then drawing it down the cheek with the flesh colors going back and forth not stopping until i reached her dress and sweater line.
this was tied in with the more central shadows and then completed the chin with the indicated colors. i painted the top front of her dress with dabs of mineral violet, ultramarine blue, and alizarin and started modelling the collar area of the sweater with a grayed mixture of cerulean blue, raw umber and alizarin crimson. the first blush of pigment was added to the chick with raw sienna and a bit of raw umber. i started painting the back ground shape by pre-wetting the area with clear water. i will often do this with large areas that need a wash just to make sure it comes out relatively well blended. i used the 1" flat and a color mixture of ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, mineral violet and some raw sienna, blending it on the paper. when the sheen came off the wash i scraped in the line indicating the junction of the wall and door that is ajar.  when this was bone dry, i experimented with getting some grain in the wood by splaying a damp 1" flat loaded with mineral violet and lightly ran it down the boards. you van see this better if you magnify the photo by clicking on it twice (if your machine works the same as mine, which is the reason i have left these photos "fully pixellated"). i then put in some knots and cracks and when those dried scraped in white highlights on the side away from the light. this experiment seems to have worked well and i will use it on sections of the background i want  to bring into focus.

her hair was painted using mainly the flat brushes and quinacridone gold, raw sienna, and burnt umber. i scraped in hair strands using the beveled handle end of a  skywash brush and palette knife when the paint dried to the point it would leave a light rather than a dark mark (sheen just leaving the paint). i lost the edge on the shadow side of her head/hair by applying the back ground pigment right after this using the same colors as in front but a little darker. i carried this down to the lower right corner and blended the background into the back of her sweater using cobalt blue and raw umber for the shadow shapes on the figure. i finished the chick with a blended wash of cadmium yellow medium, raw umber and burnt sienna. i think it got a little dark and didn't lighten as much when i dried as i anticipated. this will lift pretty easily with the colors i use so i will wait to correct this "value" problem until i have almost finished to be sure i get it right. beak and eye were put in last with ivory black for the latter and a dilute alizarin crimson for the former.

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