Monday, April 9, 2012

The Big Picture Part 2, What Did I Learn

Cropped version of the painting
The painting on my easel

Finally finished the large watercolor I started a week ago. The painting is done on 22X30” 90 lb. cold press watercolor paper.

I started out this piece with a lot of enthusiasm,but that enthusiasm began to wane about midweek. I was resolved to finish it even though I saw that it wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. The main reason for this was because I knew there was a lesson in this painting, if I just get through it I can think about what I might do better next time.

It was the first time I painted a watercolor this large. Most of what I had painted were no bigger than 14 X 17”, most were 8.5 X 10”. Working in this larger size I found that even though I thought I had made a careful drawing of each figure to start I wound up having to make a lot of corrections in proportions by the time I got to painting the central figure. Earlier on I needed to pay more attention to my drawing on this larger sheet of paper. I had lost control of drawing the group, one figure in relation to another, and I also lost control of individual proportions. I noticed the arms in the central figure were to long, (the left arm might still be a bit to long), and that’s where I made most of the corrections and the paper took a real beating. Even though the paper was light weight it held up pretty well to all the scrubbing and lifting of paint I had to do. When the paint stained the paper and I could not lift out the paint I painted over the area with casein titanium white then redrew the area and painted over the white.

I had trouble with the background too. In hind site I should have planned it better. I had to omit a lot of detail because I felt it would be too distracting but I’m not sure that what I left in explains itself well enough to read as a subway station.

The first thing I did right was make a thumbnail sketch of the composition before I started, I should have followed up with a color sketch. Although I did watercolor sketches of the individual figures a small color sketch of the composition would have helped even more. I might have made different choices for the color and the drawing of the background and of course the figures.

Another change I would make if I had to do it over again is to paint the thing on a heavier weight paper, 300lb. Although this paper held up well it would have been easier to make the corrections on the heavier paper.
Right now I don’t know exactly what I feel about the painting. Is it worth keeping or should I throw it in the trash? It didn’t come out as I wanted, that’s the biggest disappointment. However, it’s a step ahead for me because of its size and I like the way some of the figures came out individually if not collectively, (the later being more important). If anything it serves as a marker for what I would do better next time.

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