- smoothing edges between one color and the next
- creating a very gradual graded wash
- pulling out small areas of soft highlights
- correcting minor mistakes (sometimes you can lift and pull enough color out that you can almost get a fresh start for a small area)
- blending of tones from one layer to the next
Of course, lifting also has many disadvantages that can be incredibly annoying as well:
- when trying to get a very rich dark tone with layers, subsequent layers keep pulling color up, and so you reach a saturation point sooner than desired where you can't get darker.
- layering on top of a smooth wash sometimes will pull up spots and irregularities
- textures with particularly sensitive colors (blues and purples which are more prone to lifting) get smoothed out or obliterated when a second layer is brushed on top
You learn to appreciate the advantages, and to know and work around the disadvantages after a while. I had an idea however, of trying to spray workable fixative onto a piece in between layers, in order to try to work up to a really nice rich dark tone in areas, and also to maintain texture across layers. I'd lose a lot of the blending qualities that occur with lifting, that naturally happens every time you layer, but it would be interesting to see what results I could get if each glaze was fixed and made permanent.
So, using one of the sketches I did for a keyword card a while back, I penciled it onto a board and decided to give it a try tonight.
Going to use my Elderflower purple as the main color, as it is usually one of the most easily lifted colors I have, and one of my favorites.
* * *First glaze of purple. About 5 minutes (plus the half hour of laying out the initial sketch) into this however I get a nasty surprise. I'm using my usual Strathmore illustration board 500 series, which I usually love. But on very rare occasion, (3 times in the past 11 years of many MANY paintings, so not often at all) I've gotten a bad sheet that has these weird speckles in it that only appear once I put water to the board. They seem to absorb the water differently and puff out. I get really annoyed, but it only seems to be on the lower half, with a little bit in the middle. And I really don't feel like re-sketching the piece.
I almost toss it, but decide to forge on ahead with the experiment. Maybe the fixative spray will help. Or maybe the fixative spray will do other weird things. I haven't ever tried fixative and then continued working on a piece. The only time I've ever used it is on pencil drawings when I was absolutely finished, even though I buy the "workable" version just in case I need to do corrections or additions.
* * *
Oh yes! The fixative has seemed to work quite well, and the paper is still taking liquid and pigment fine. I don't know if this will hold up well for multiple sprayings. We shall see.
But so far it is working as I had hoped. The second layer is MUCH darker than it usually is with this particular pigment, and I'm still keeping the textures from the first glaze.
Second layer is more purples, some burnt umber and paynes grey thrown into the mixture as well. The weird mottle texture on the paper seems to be less obtrusive now as well, so I'm glad I decided to continue instead of prematurely chucking the whole piece and starting over.
One major downside is that the spray is stiiiiiiiiiiiinky with fumes. Might need to wait a bit longer between spraying and continuing to work so that I don't get lightheaded with fumes.
* * *
Another sprayed layer. Still looking good. I'm a little concerned with whether I'll reach a point where it's too many layers of spray. Already the liquid kind of rolls around a little bit on the surface, rather than being absorbed by the paper immediately. But so far it still seems okay.
Added more purple to the corners, and started a bit of naples yellow glow on the left side. Started on some finer details using mixtures of reds and blues. I'm really happy with how rich the purple tones are getting, with so few layers applied. It doesn't usually reach this saturation of color very easily.
Stopping point for tonight. Will have to wait til tomorrow to have more fun with this.
Part 2 can be found -by clicking here-.