Wednesday, October 08, 2008
A new painting, another learning experience!
I've been trying (and not too successfully) to paint every day, and so I've been using photos from my idea folder to work with. That way, I don't think "I don't know what to paint," I think, "Okay, let's do this one today." I'm trying to not overthink it, just to get messy and just jump in. So... here's the original photo of Miss Sophie out in the yard, and yes, there is a story there, and you will all hear it one day, and I did make the wings myself and will try to post instructions when I get around to it, I promise:
Trying to be faithful to the photo, I did a pretty tight sketch and started to do some watercolour washes. But the spirit of it just eluded me... every time I would put down a color, I'd blot it back up. I was being really timid about paint, which just ain't me.
It was starting to be pretty, but that wasn't what I was going for. So I put it aside, and thought about it, and realized what I was doing wrong. Like this painting, I was trying to do watercolor "right" and try new techniques out I wasn't comfortable with, but it instead was losing the whole spirit. Remember when I did the painting of Angela in the grass and I said, "I did the background first, next time I'll do the subject first"? Well, that's what was missing. The point of the whole painting is Sophie, the fairy girl.
And more about that - I'd decided early on that I didn't want this to look like a little girl in a costume in her backyard, but that's what it was turning into. So I stopped thinking of her as Sophie. And that helped immensely. I didn't worry if her coloring looked right, or her hair, or if she looked age-appropriate blah blah blah. I was painting a fairy, and that meant I could get as wild as I wanted!
Before... I'm trying too hard to make her look natural and as lovely as she is.
After... while it may not look precisely like Sophie, it captures her spirit so much more vividly (and accurately).
I wound up erasing all the pencil I could, leaving just what I needed for the barest guidelines, and went to town, splashing color all over the place. You all have no idea how much I had to fight myself NOT to go in and do perfectly rendered veins on the wings, to do her eyelashes and hair perfectly, and to make the lines in the watercolour set perfectly straight. LESS IS MORE, remember? I'm so proud that I refrained from overworking it all.
Take this down: It doesn't have to be perfect.
The last thing I'm really proud of is the background. All those trees, and the path, and all that stuff - not necessary! And it was pulling my attention away from my fairy. So instead I erased everything, and wet my background area with water and a brush, being verrrry careful to only put it where I wanted paint to go. And then I color-bombed it (ala this one). I lifted up the paper and let the color find its path, staying only where the paper was wet. (Mind you, you only want to try this when everything else on the page is dry.)
I am just so happy with those edges where one color bumps up against the other - back in the day, I would get that kind of contrast with a very sharp pencil or fine pen. Now it's nothing but pure color. (Ooh, I'm getting shivers about it again.) And the hair, I'm quite pleased with that. And especially the edges of those wings becoming organic and leaf-edged - I couldn't have made that happen if I tried.
(Petey wants to know, when is it my turn to have a painting?)