watercolor portrait – third paint

every time i see the girls relentlessly climbing those stairs i am brought to mind of escher’s critters endlessly marching up and down and around.  i love this painting already.

you may have noticed that i’ve erased the entire background, and am just going to finish the girls, and then decide.  all the lines had to change, so i might as well start from scratch.  i left teh staircase on the opposite wall, because i don’t want to have to redraw it again (it took some effort to get it right).  i do plan to draw the escher scene back in, but it can wait.

today i worked on the red girl in the middle, and the purple one on top.  as you can see, the red one is much more convincing, while the purple one looks more like some deformed anatomical drawing.  so i’m going to have to do something about it.

here’s something you don’t know.  i’ve got another whole layer to go on top of what i’ve already done here, and when you’re talking watercolors, you know that the more layers, the more risk of mud.  however, i’ve still got the darkest darks to go, especially on the orange one (which since i was only starting, ends up being the more restrained – didn’t i tell you earlier).


today’s version of the test strip adds the reds on the right side of the paper, going down.  i used the bottom three reds (the first two of those seem to have blended together).  you can see them again, painted in stripes over the rightmost purple blotch where i first mocked up the colors on the first day.  it goes from purplish to redder to red.  and this would (probably) be three quinacridones over quinacridone, so i’m pretty sure that’s transparent.

i did the red suit wet in wet, meaning i wet the splotchy right and lower half of the suit with either clear water or my first brushful of quinacridone red(ish), and then put in the magenta color for the darker areas.  while it was all still wet, i made the darkest splotches (under the arms, the back of the right thigh) with the purplish color, maybe aided just a bit by a touch of dioxazine purple, but i’m not sure anymore.  more than likely, i used quinacridone red, quinacridone rose, and quinacridone magenta.


the purple girl is in sad shape.  that’s a really bad job of drapery, and after i did so well on the first two.  but it can be fixed.  like i just said, i’m not done.  not only the darkest darks have to go on, but so does a unifying glaze of something like the local color.  and that will be a tricky thing (read: mud).

but back to the purple girl.  this is what happens when you don’t go in and soften your edges.  it’s also what happens when i start in with the blues and purples.  it gets too dark, and then i have to make everything else darker to make it look less overdone.  however, i kind of can’t.  i’m overstating the atmospheric perspective in this painting, so the farthest girl has got to be the lightest one, not the darkest one.

i’ve already tried getting the stomach area wet and blotting it.  and tho lots of purple came up, it made no difference i could see.

after doing the research, i find that this purple is staining.  which means there’s only so much i’m going to be able to remove by scrubbing with my kolinsky sable brush (meaning lightly, because the damned things are expensive and i’m not going to disrespect my brushes).

but there are other ways, each more drastic than the last – like actually scrubbing, with a toothbrush.  like sandpaper, or scraping with a razor blade to physically remove the stained paper, which leaves such an awful tooth that you will never be able to paint it back to match the color around it.

i always use the heaviest paper i can find (almost like cardboard) so i can practically run it thru the washing machine, but there’ll still be a horrible amount of purple left when i’m done.  i think.  at this point.

we’ll see tomorrow, won’t we?  perhaps i can gray the whole thing out with complementary colors, and smooth it out by addition rather than subtraction.  i’ll see what comes to me.

i think i’m working too cold.  i think i gave in to the temptation to work with purple and blue (indigo) instead of staying warm.  but i don’t have any warm colors in that range.  the red, middle suit is the coolest of the reds.

gak, i just looked up indigo, which is a convenience mixture these days, made of staining pigments.  great, so i’m going to have a swell time with that.

happy new year anyway, and tomorrow’s another day.




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