Thursday, January 30, 2014

In the Wake of Her Passage
19x19 inches
Medium: Watercolor, ink, metallics powders, gold
Detail closeups and prints (8.5x11 inch @ $16.95 and 11x17 inch @ $26.75) -available here-

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The process:

Initial brainstorming ideas. I scribbled some thumbnails. This one came together rather quickly. After the figure with the swirling mist in her wake I already knew the title, and had in mind the colors as well.

A more detailed sketch of the figure, using the first concept as a guide.
 Then I scanned the thumbnail and figure and moved things around in photoshop. Flipping, resizing, determining the background composition.
 Afterwards I transferred the sketch, much more fleshed out, onto the final drawing surface, and lightly sprayed it with workable fixative.
First drippy ink & watercolor washes. Doing this is giving me flashbacks to my Berkeley college art days where it was all about drippy paint and sloshing massive amounts of pigment onto huge canvases. Of course, this is only a fraction of that size, and I'm using the most sinful of mediums - the "illustrator's tool", WATERCOLOR!
 A couple hours later, after it dried, a light fixative spray, and more washes, and then I started in on the distant background to the lower left corner.
 Kept it light so that it wouldn't war with my foreground for attention later.
 Slowly worked my way across the bottom and into a bit of the foreground elements.

 And then up towards the figure.

 I kind of worked in a counter-clockwise fashion on this piece, starting  with the lower left background, then moving up the cascade of pools towards the figures and the trees in the upper quadrants.
Worked my way back along the glowing flowers that had sprung up in the wake, under her feet. Used white gel pen for these, and then blended with paint for shading.
A little bit of gold leaf for some accents.
Background trees.
Wasn't very happy with the shape of the arch, in the left side of it, and I had been putting off dealing with that area for a while. But at this point I had to address it. Finally reshaped the area with some watercolor ground and ink and created a much more pleasing (to me) silhouette.
The owl.
Finishing up the lower foreground areas and incorporating it better with the rest of the piece.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Keeper of Keys

Size: 7x10 inches
Medium: Watercolor, ink, metallic powders, gold leaf
Prints ($16.95) and Detail closeups available -here-

I was visiting the Berkeley Botanical Gardens the other day, right about at sunset. The sun was slipping down and through the dawn redwoods, setting golden fire to the edges. A bit of that image trickling through my mind, as well as the lovely bark textures of the redwoods, and a desire to revisit Muhru from my Dreamsign painting of last month.

The sketch on the board. I didn't bother with sketching much of the background. I was going to let that happen organically. Just had a vague concept in mind for what I wanted, and the colors. The rest would happen as the paint dripped.

Here's the initial wash. This one takes the longest to dry. Because I use so much water, to let the pigment from the ink, metallics, and watercolor move, it usually takes about an hour before I can proceed.This is the scariest phase usually, though less so for this particular painting, because I spent so little time with the initial sketch. When I have a very intricate sketch it can be rather unnerving to pour all this ink onto the page and then hope things work out. I've started to lightly spray my sketches with workable fixative before proceeding so that the graphite doesn't get obliterated. I didn't used to fix my sketches.

Once that dried, I dabbed watercolor ground for the keys. I let the ground blob and mound up to create relief texture. Watercolor ground is basically a watercolor gesso-like substance. It's porous, and so you can paint watercolor on top of it.

And I lay a glaze of the watercolor ground over parts of the background as well to soften up the hardness of the black ink textures.

My daughter loved the keys. Every time she came to peek at what I was doing, she ran her fingers over the raised parts!

Once those base layers of texture are in place and dried, I start to pick out forms and shapes from the randomness with highlights and shadows.

Wasn't quite done with the background yet, but I decided to move on to Muhru and get him painted in so that I could figure out what colors he would be and therefore what other colors I needed to pull out of the background to tie things in cohesively.

Worked some more on the background, and then the final step was to apply gold leaf to the relief keys.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nocturne: Visitation
Size: 15x19 inches
Medium: Mixed
 Prints: 8.5x11 ($16.95) and 11x17 ($26.75) -available here- is a companion piece to a painting I did a month ago, Nocturne.

The wanderer's presence has not gone as unnoticed as he presumed. The faerie queen of the woods gazes upon his slumbering defenselessness and muses on what to do with this reckless one who dares to walk the hallowed paths and set eyes upon her.

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Below are the sketches and photos of the piece as it progressed.

Started off initially thinking of a horizontal composition. Later on that changed. Thumbnail of the concept. Grassy circle in the forest, surrounded a stone cairn, and the faerie queen stands over his slumbering form with a lantern in her hand.

Brainstormed sketches for the Faerie queen. Went through many different scribbled sketches trying to find the right attitude.
 And sketch for the wanderer. He came easier, nailed what I had in mind on the first attempt.

At this point I ended up changing my mind on the horizontal composition and moved to a vertical one that matched the proportions of the original Nocturne painting. Cut and pasted the various sketches in photoshop, moved things around, scribbled in a rough approximation of the background.
 Then transferred and refined that onto the final surface.
First washes of color and ink.

 White watercolor ground layered on top, and more washes, and started on some detail on one of the trees.
More details, and some bold red and gold in the foreground
 The wanderer.
 First light glazes on her dress.
Drapery, hair, and face.
The little faeries around her and the lantern.
Picked out the negative space in the tree branches above.
Splatters of gold and red to help tie it back into the lower parts of the painting, as well as some blue/purple glazes.
 More work detailing the trunk textures.
 Gold leafing in the cores of the tree hollows.
And the final result.