Wednesday, June 10, 2015

working toward watercolor west exhibition: second iteration of old painting

original sketch from february
during the winter out in borrego springs i did a small "sketch" of a fellow named tim jenkins who posed while playing his fiddle for us at the viroqua life painting sessions. i like the effect but there were several things i learned while painting it that made me want to re-do it on better paper and in a larger format when i returned. i feel i need another painting to send for consideration to the watercolor west show. they have specific criteria one of which is that the painting must be on paper and in transparent watercolor ( opaque). this is the time, i feel, to have another go at it.

drawing and first washes
i started by deciding on the size and proportions of the paper (13"X16"; landscape format) and the amount and orientation of the figure in that space. i decided on head shoulders, most of fiddle and some of his hand in the lower right. this gave me a nice diagonal composition that avoided the corners and even proportions, as well as a nice light passage through the center (face and beard).
background:"masking" of face/violin

after drawing it out on the paper which is arches hot press watercolor board (90# paper attached to a stiff mat-like board.....i have used this before and found it a great surface and just a little less expensive than 300# arches...but without being able to create "deckle" edges), i flooded the figure and background with a variegated, high value wash using manganese blue nova, quinacridone gold, scarlet lake and brilliant orange.
a bit more on the features and violin
after that dried completely i worked a bit on the facial features using the same colors but lower value washes. for this work i used a #14 round escoda versatil brush. i wanted a free hand with the background and a crisp edge at the right side of the face and top of the violin. in usually would just try to paint around these but i know i wanted a wet background which might become unmanageable as i rolled down the surface. so, i masked out those structures with masking tape and then carefully scribed around the edge with an ex-acto knife and peeled away the excess. this in place i liberally worked a juicy background vertically using ultramarine blue, brilliant orange, quinacridone gold and alizarin crimson permanent, with a #20 round escoda versatil brush. as it dried it was a little to "stripey". after pondering this dilemma and knowing the danger of going back in with a brush i remembered a blending trick i saw bob ross do in skies with his oil paints (remember bob? happy little trees? squirrel perched on his shoulder?). i got out a 2 inch hake brush and lightly whisked it over the wash as the sheen started to come off.......voila.....this is what it looked like and i was a happy camper.

this done, i turned to the shadow side wash on the face. i used a wet glaze technique putting down ultramarine blue over the shadow areas first and then charged in the flesh color of scarlet lake and brilliant orange. i let this do its thing with out manipulation.....okay, still happy (it looked a little dark at this point but true to watercolor's habits it dried a couple of values lighter). a little more on the features, starting to model his beard and put a na initial tone of quinacridone gold on the top of the violin rounded out the painting at this point. i have decided to painting around the strings on the violin.........a smart move might be to mask them too, but i like a challenge........wish me luck.
state of painting "lost in the blue grass" at present


  1. I do like the original first painting from february, but I can see you 'got' him again . Really looking forward to seeing the final result here :-)

    1. thanks for the comment, jane. it always is a danger in re-doing a painting that it will be not as good.......there were enough problems with the first (many of which don't show up on the photo) that i am pretty sure i will like the second better....we'll see.