Thursday, June 6, 2013

Finishing (continued from last post)

Step 8: Re-draw the image full-size on cheap copy paper. (I tape sheets together if one isn't big enough.)  Sometimes I enlarge and trace my thumbnail, sometimes I use an intermediary sketch (like when the client needs to see the sketch, I do a prettier one for them).  Either way, any number of departures are made at this stage; this is where I really make use of my reference material if I need to. (Is that hair ornament the right one for the time period? Do people's elbows really bend that way? Is this linear perspective believable?) Erase and revise with abandon.

Ready to paint!
Step 9: Prepare the final surface.  When I work in watercolor or other semi-transparent media, I don't want any eraser marks on my final piece.  So this step is just where I lightly trace the finalized step 8 (without all its messy mistakes) onto my watercolor paper.  I have a 16x18" light box for this process, which helps a lot. Then, if it's large, I wet the paper and stretch it onto a piece of plywood or thick foam board and let it dry nice and tight to prevent warping.  Any pencil marks on the paper before this step will get sealed in, so they won't smudge.

Step 10: Painting! All the decision-making and hard work is done; now it's time to just relax and color.  For this set, I did a light wash of color over the whole paper first, which can help keep the colors harmonious, but isn't good if you want a true, transparent watercolor look.  

I paint backgrounds first and figures last; I have a tendency to go too light on the figures if I paint them against a white background. They probably taught me that in art school, but I had to do it wrong a bunch of times before it sank in.

I come back afterwards and do some clean up with ink, pencil, or more opaque paint and a tiny brush. I'll darken, highlight or define certain areas using my references as a guide if I have them.  (In this case I didn't use much direct reference--I only had a day to paint each of these, so the people and settings are basically made-up after glancing at some pictures.)  

As soon as it's dry I pull off any tape, staples, etc., sign it, photograph or scan it, file it, package or frame it and get it where it needs to go on time.  

Have a creative and productive work day!

Update: All four finished paintings have now been sold.  If you would like to commission similar ones, please let me know!

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