marie’s fountain – getting a little bolder

this post covers several days when i was very busy with the grandbaby and other emergent emergencies.  i got maybe 40 minutes a day in the studio while jim was making dinner, and it was nice to just go down there and cool out.

basically at this point i’m working in minute increments.  a little here, a little there.  and a lot of just sitting there looking at it.  looking at it upside down.  looking at it thru squinty eyes.  looking at it in a mirror.  all the tricks.  and not a little sitting there admiring how it’s coming along.

i went back over the details in the fish in the middle ground, and worked on the foreground rocks.  then i gathered my courage and put a bunch of very blued sap green in the fence plants on the left.  and i started working on the boy, which being human is the most important detail to get right.

my problem is that i’m still learning my craft, even after – let’s see, well, over 30 years, anyway.  i still have to figure out how to make my colors, i still have to screw up my courage to commit myself, i still have to push myself to the point of abandon in order to come to the end of the painting.  that does sound very suggestive, doesn’t it?  but it’s almost orgiastic, the process of finishing a painting.

but this isn’t really a problem.  the real problem is if you ever figure out what you’re doing, and practice it so long without deviation that you could do it in your sleep.  that produces crappy art.  slick art.  studied, mannered, lifeless art.  unfortunately, this is the kind of art that sells, the slick stuff.  so artists try for slick, thinking slick is the mark of a professional.  and it is – a professional commercial artist, who makes work for hire rather than art that calls out to be made.

so i kept filling in little spaces.  i worked on the shadows of the reeds in the left middle ground, and i put in the sap green stalks of the water reeds.  i put a mixture of i-don’t-know red violet and burnt sienna, with dioxazine purple and ultramarine blue on all the water lilies, and permanent green on the reeds to the right.

here you can see the detail.  there’s still another complete layer of color to go on all these figures.  i started with really light pastelly colors, and this is actually only the middle layer of colors.

the next step after i finish filling everything in is one of the ones that get me into trouble.  i’m going to put another entire layer of paint over pretty much everything – a mess of glazes, really, but at some point i’m going to find myself slashing heavy ultramarine thru the painting, followed by thick sienna.  it’s the orgy part.  i eventually get so frenzied that i overcome my usual precise control and break out into mad, passionate painting.  it’s a scary moment, and i find i have to work myself into it, and can’t just paint that way from the beginning.  especially not with watercolor.

tomorrow i have to tackle the plants on the fence, and also the mass of vegetation on the left, and then i’ll be at the end stage, when the scary part happens.  i’ll be safe tomorrow.


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