watercolor portrait – starting the background


here is the next step.  actually, i’m only doing the carpet and stairs because i chickened out on the hair.  when it comes to putting in darks, i tend to get cold feet, have to work up to it, and risk muddying hte water whenever i hesitate like this.

so instead of messing with it, i did the stairs instead.

which required a definite drawing of the creepy crawlies.  i had previously had them just sketched in, and wasn’t ever satisfied with the one on teh stairs, so i spent a good deal of yesterday redrawing her, several times.  and now i’m not only mainly happy with her, but am also stuck with her.

i started with the girls’ shadows, using burnt sienna first, then coming in for darker tones with burnt umber, and put in some ultramarine blue in the very darkest places.  on the orange girl, the further shadow to her right was done after the first, darker shadow, was dry.

then i put on the carpet.  it’s a base layer of quinacridone gold, with some burnt sienna to darken it, and a little bit of burnt umber in the darkest spots.  i had to run the quinacridone gold over the shadows, and this could easily be where mud is made, but it was a very thin wash, and i was very gingerly with my brush.  and it seems to have worked okay.

for the wooden stairs, i put on a very light wash of burnt sienna, then used quinacridone gold to represent the highlights, and i’ve pretty much stopped there.  it’ll need wood graining, and that’ll be in burnt sienna, later.

then, just because i was feeling bold and confident (usually a mistake), i made a very weak solution of moonglow black (which isn’t black at all, but three staining pigments – phthalo blue, alizarin crimson, and phthalo green.  it’s got a very blue mass tone, so it’s great for resembling black and white while still being color.  so now the creepy crawlies are outlined in paint, and i will now erase the pencil and refine my marks before going on with them.

what will i do today?

i’m not sure.  the problem i’m having with the painting at the moment is the whole upper left side, which is still in pencil.  if i make it dark, then i’m going to get a diagonal line that goes the other way from the central figures, and what i really want is for everything to support their moment.  so i’m going to darken the upper left of this area, and make the unbre line (the line of darkness) curve around above the girls.  i’ll start it at about where the rolly thing’s feet are.

i don’t really know what i’ll do today.  let me go make myself a cup of coffee and settle in among the dogs sleeping on the couches and chairs upstairs, where the light is good and the heat is set a little higher than down here (where my fingers are stumbling over the keyboard, and the keys are sticking).

as for the blank space to the left, under the stairs, i’m not sure what to do.  if i put in the lower dimension, as escher would have done, then that means a lot more work, and it detracts from te girls.  besides, i’ve already made my point with the creepy things cutting across the plane, and don’t really need more details.  so i’ll probably just make that part a continuation of the wall behind the stairs, and not mess with distracting details.


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