Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back to Going Big with Watercolor

As part of my July "Going Big" watercolor class, I decided to try a portrait of my Dutch Shepherd, Nikolaas.

I sketch him all the time, as you've seen if you read this blog, so I am familiar with the subject!  However, in this case, instead of working from life, I worked from a photo.

This is on 18 x 24 Strathmore 400 watercolor paper, with Daniel Smith paints.

First I sketched the main shapes in lightly with pencil.

Then I washed in the spots of quinacridone gold.  While that was still wet, I started the blue wash, because I wanted the colors to blend at the edges.

Still, I wound up with many harder edges than I had anticipated.  Probably I didn't soak the paper adequately before I started!  Live and learn!

Because of the strong cast of sunlight on the right and the strong shadow on the left, I planned from the start to only detail one of his eyes.  However, I couldn't get it placed right, not in the initial drawing or the initial washes.  I measured and measured, but it just didn't come out right.

I did this working in a tiny space, actually.  Just a portion of the table at my friends' house during our weekly Open Studio.  Best part of my week.

After I got home and things dried completely, I went back in with some glazing to darken the darks and warm up some of the gold.

I think I only used four colors in this work--quin gold, indanthrone blue, burnt sienna, and a second blue--maybe phthalo?--for his bright blue tag (and a bit of variation in the lake.

After spending so much time working with the flat photograph (which I think probably was what stymied me about the placement of that eye), I grabbed my trusty brush pen and journal and went outside to scribble Nik from life, while he played with his ball on a hot day.

I want to bring some of this scribbly liveliness into my bigger work!!

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