Thursday, July 21, 2016

Here Be Dragon(fruit)s!

In my quest for interesting fruits or vegetables to paint, I searched the vast expanse of the local grocer's produce section for something interesting.  I think it might be the first time I've ever stood and looked at produce without thinking at all about what I might like to eat or serve, but simply to consider it all in terms of what I might like to paint.

No surprise, really, but looking with a painter's eye sure makes you see things differently!

Anyhow, the minute I spotted the dragonfruit, I snagged one.

I have eaten these before and enjoyed them.  But I've never painted one.  So I looked forward to this.

And it seemed it would work as a subject for my three goals for my watercolor course:
  1. Go Big
  2. Don't lose my sketchbook style
  3. Let the watercolor do more of the work for me

I planned to capture this fist-sized fruit on an 18 x 24 piece of Strathmore 400 watercolor paper.

It took hours.  Mostly because, in order to capture that deep deep glowing, almost pulsating red, I had to paint about 7 layers of various red glazes on all that paper, then wait for it to dry!   My goodness, it takes a lot of patience to paint in watercolor!  Clearly, if I'm going to pursue this, I need to figure out the second hobby that I can pursue in the periods between layers of a watercolor painting!  Or have three or four paintings going at once...  advice welcome if any of you have have experience with this sort of thing.

Anyhow, here is a look at my class workspace, and the dragonfruit portrait in progress.

During this process I realized that working out of my little palette would not cut it for these larger paintings.  Starting tomorrow, I'll be bringing my tubes and something to mix in.  I completely emptied my red wells in my work today.

Below is the final dragonfruit portrait.  

About those drips.  Cool huh?  Kind of takes the portrait and makes it meta.  Is it a dragonfruit?  Or a painting of a dragonfruit?  I love the way they change the entire composition.  I think they add a liveliness to the painting that it didn't have with just the fruit.

Should I claim I planned that?  Or should I admit that the first giant drip occurred when I went to the bathroom, so I couldn't even begin to catch it in progress and clean it up?   I could claim the truth, which is after I wailed (but only for about 10 seconds), I realized, hey, that looks kind of good.  I should add a few more drips...

I celebrated that I didn't let the drips derail me.  And that I actually used them to get something much cooler than anything I could have thought of on my own.  

I think that might be part of my learning to "let the watercolor work for me."  I have to let the water have more freedom on the paper.  Sometimes that means I'll ruin a piece, because I'm still learning what I'm doing.  But sometimes it means I learn something I never would have thought of on my own.

I will have to try to remember this the next time I ruin a piece.  It all balances out.  

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