marie’s fountain – the first darks

well, here i am in the middle of the painting.  this is the ugly stage.  this is when nothing is coming together, and it all looks awkward and forced.

that’s because it IS forced and painful.  all that meticulous outlining, all those disjointed lines that nevertheless join precisely, and nothing making sense.  at this stage, all the details muddle up, like trying to count sand grains in the wind.  it’s not hard to work, tho, because there are a million areas that need attention, a million things that have to be done before it starts to look like a real painting.  right now it looks strange.

this is a good place to plug my favorite watercolor brushes.  i’m talking about yarka kolinsky sable brushes.  the factory used to be in russia, and the brushes are good, and cheap, and i’ve already stocked up on as many as i’m likely to use in my lifetime, so i’m telling you about it.  the factory has closed, jack richeson bought up all the mink tails and shipped them to india, where the brushes are now being made.  but some little guy in the northeast bought up all the russian-made brushes, and is selling them off.  they’re great brushes, they’re cheap for kolinsky (even tho their siberian squirrel brushes are just as good, and even cheaper), and they’re going fast.  so act now.  i wish i got a promotional fee for this, but i don’t.  just the satisfaction of seeing good, cheap brushes going to good homes.

this is where it begins to start to come together just a little bit.  all those splotches of light in the middle of the pond’s darkness look horrible until you fill them in with some other color.  so i have to go around to all the little splotches of light in the water, and glaze them with something.  in the foreground, i used rich green gold, ultramarine and sienna.  this is different from how i’ve done all the darks so far.  so far, i’ve been using burnt umber and ultramarine blue, with moonglow and i-don’t-know-mars-black-maybe.  that made very dark darks.  but these secondary darks, while still dark, are both warm and light, so i need to use a different mixture to achieve it.

it’s at this point in a painting that i think i should just dispense with colors and use only burnt umber and ultramarine blue in my paintings.  it’s only a stage.  i fantasize i can make any color using these two pigments, and have gone some way, in idleness, in seeing how varied i can get.  but, i remind myself, that’s how the old fashioned painters did it, a series of grays until the tonal balance was right, and then transparent glazes and opaque highlights.  it’s how jim paints, often.  you’re not supposed to do that in watercolor, but i find that i can manage several glazes before things start looking muddy, so a lot of my color application is of pure pigment, and i only mix it optically by glazing over it with a different color.

i still have the background darks to do.  and i still have the little boy statue to do.  the face is wrong.  and i still have those plants lining the left side.  the photo was not in focus on that side, not in any of the three photos i took ten years ago.  so now i have to make it up.  and in order to not make it look like it’s out of focus, i’m going to have to make it up.  but i’m pretty sure it’ll come out all right.


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