watercolor portrait – finished painting

okay, after sitting with it all night, i did the remaining bits and pieces today.

starting with the back wall, which needed some shadowing using moonglow, and the steps coming down the wall needed a thin wash of burnt umber.  and then it was time to do the lines of the stairs so that i could live with them.

this took all day.  and i had to back up some when the lines didn’t come out good enough.  and it was also necessary to hide the lines i was altering, so that’s why the corners turned out so dark, because i had to keep laying in burnt sienna first, then burnt umber, and then blue.  i did it several times, once when the whole area was plenty wet, the next time when there was just a sheen on the paper, and the third time when it was good and damp.  in some places, where the paper was dry, i had to go over the line with a brush of water to soften the edges.

i started with the middle step, and i don’t think at this point i tilted it enough, because it’s still wrong.  but oh well at this stage.  i would put in an area of shadows and the edge line, obscure anything that looked like a hard edge, and then let it dry.  i did this practically for every edge going up those stairs.  for the risers, i put in a final coat of burnt sienna and quinacridone gold, which i should actually have continued on the treads, but didn’t.  on the treads, is just another wash of burnt umber.  then things like edges of the carpet on the left, and the line of the orange girl’s left leg, which i had to differentiate in tone from the carpet, so you could see it at a distance.  then i came in with a hint of burnt sienna over the faces and necks, and i signed it at the right hand stair, where i should have made the carpet crease heavier, but didn’t.


now it’s time to get the painting ready to mount, which means i have to spray fix it so it doesn’t run all over itself when i mount it, because i’m using a wet mount, and the paper will get wet. but it’s easy enough to deal with.

using a bottle filled with very dilute acrylic medium, and a mouth atomizer, which you can see sticking into the bottle, i sprayed the entire painting lightly.  most people would use a can of spray fixative, but i like doing it the old fashioned (read: cheap) way, so it’s a $2.50 atomizer which lasts for years.  you blow into the wooden end of the ‘straw’, the air goes over the 90-degree break in the straw, and the vacuum causes a stream of liquid to rise thru the straw and get sprayed all over the place.  it’s exhausting at first, because that’s you blowing hard thru the nozzle, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really easey.


you can see in the closeup how wet i got it on the first pass. all that shine is freshly blown acrylic and water.  i let it dry, and then put another, heavier coat of fixative over it.  and then did it again.  never did it bleed, and that’s really the only thing i’m concerned about now, because it’s going to get a final varnish when i’m all done.


last night i had some wakeful time, so i came down to the studio and put a coat of semigloss black on my frame.   i’ll probably go and put another one on in a minute.  i als thinned out the gray green acrylic i used to paint the board, and put a second coat on it, crosswise to how i put it on the first time, so as to even out some of the visible stroke marks that will detract from the finish.

then i measured the board and marked the lines, and where they cross is the center.  you can’t really see it on this picture, but it’s there in very light pencil.

since i smudged the pencil erasing the ends, i decided to paint the board one more coat.


now all that needs to do is to take the painting off the block using a palette knife to cut the sticky black stuff around the edges.  then i have to peel off any remaining black stuff, and then center the painting on the board and mark the edges.  i’m going to use pin pricks instead of pencil marks (this time).  then i’ll take some thicker acrylic medium (thicker than the spray fixative), coat out the board, then coat out the back of the painting, and lay it down precisely on the marks.  then with a brayer, i will roll out any lumps and air bubbles under the painting, and let it dry.  when it’s dry, it’ll be permanently mounted to the board, and won’t need glass to protect it, because it’s getting varnished.

it’s almost done.  just one more day’s working with it, and i can start documenting my other current projects.


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