Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tam Lin - The Faery Host more progress

Another in-progress photo. Again, apologies for bad photo quality. Though this one at least I did during the day so there was better lighting.
Meredith asked me if I finished whole sections before moving on. Sort of. I finish tiny areas sometimes (like the little fairy figures, or the foxes), and other parts (like the background trees) I lay in base coats and go back to them as I develop those portions of the painting. I tend to jump around a lot to whatever section catches my fancy. In a painting this size I have a lot of room to jump around to!

Jumping around also helps to minimize waiting time if I have large areas that I'm waiting on to dry (i.e. the background). Instead of setting the painting aside and waiting, I can easily move onto another non-adjacent portion. Frequent technique question I get is, "How do you keep colors from all just blending together?" Easy, just don't paint next to a wet area unless you intend the colors to bleed. Although the skipping around is mostly random, I do generally move from the background up towards the foreground.

A couple reasons for that background->foreground order:

* To give distance, background elements are less crisp in detail. e.g. the spreading tree branches, wet on wet in some places to really let them fade out into the surrounding green.

* Easier to lay crisp edges of foreground elements on top of the background. Therefore I can kinda be messy about background stuff early on. Not too much since we are dealing with transparent watercolors, but some amount of leeway for messiness can be compensated for with lifting, or just by painting much more saturated foreground colors on top of.

* Speaking of saturation, since I was lazy and decided to skip doing color roughs, I really have very little idea about where I'm going with this piece for colors. I wanted green woods, so that part is a semi-gimme. And so it's been easier (brainless) to proceed with the each [choices] first. The more defined color choices have been put off so far. I'm still not sure whether I want that large foreground tree on the left to be reddish-brown, or purple-black. But by painting the colors that I'm certain of first I can narrow the possibilities for the uncertain areas gradually until the choice becomes much easier. A kind of organic process of elimination.

Closeups on some of the foxes I got to today!


  1. fantastic! I love that moon in the background. So beautiful!

  2. 你不能決定生命的長度,但你可以控制它的寬度..................................................................

  3. Oh my's really amazing ... I can feel you are directly in that wood riding with the faeries :)

  4.'s really more than just amazing it feels like you're in that wood riding with the faeries :)

  5. wow, it looks incredible... Thanks so much for deciding to post progress shots of this. For those of us who aspire having a solid skill in watercolors, it really does help for us to study how others do it.

  6. A question on technique - in your books (and I can see in this painting, too) you suggest splattering rubbing alcohol to create texture. Whenever I try this the area turns darker, instead of lighter. Any suggestions on why this might occur and/or how to avoid would be much appreciated!

  7. Ir might be the type of paper you're using? I don't know, I've never had it go darker before!