16.1.08

Blue without you

At the risk of becoming boring...I started, so I'll finish. Wishy washy part 2.

Once the final background layers are dry and to my satisfaction, I pop a clear wash onto the body, leaving some areas clear. I was once told that I was 'lucky to be able to draw stuff what comes out of your head' (or words to that effect) but the fact is that without having had an art education, and done my fair share of tedious still lives, I wouldn't be able to depict the 'stuff in my head'. You have to know how light falls, how to make a body appear heavy and slumped, and you have to know it well enough to paint it when your subject not in front of you. In many ways, a still life would be easier. So the reason for leaving dry parts is because I want the paint areas to have different surfaces, even though the ear and the tail will be the same colour - to make the character more believable as an object.



I also use several sized brushes and when I am painting I will often have two in my hand, one for the wash work and a slighly smaller, finer pointed one for getting up to the edge - rather like chopsticks.




Here I've floated the body colour - a manganese/cobalt/indigo blue mix - into the clear wet, and am tipping it this way and that, adding more colour and making sure it dries evenly - and that the darker bits of paint are where I want them. I also want the light areas to match up to the lighter parts in the background - so that the light from the window really appears to fall into the room and over the elephant. Seems obvious when written down, but it is another little way of making the picture 'real' to the viewer.



The finished and dried result. I was really pleased with how the nicely granulated paint works on the body, it did all the work of defining the body. So for once I left it alone, and held off bumping it up with pencil work. On the back leg join you can see where a patch of indigo has separated from the main mix, which is why students are told not to mix colours. And is precisely why I do. Because I like the effect.



And from then on it is simply a matter of finishing off - a bit more painting, some coloured pencil work to define the shadows - the deepened indigo/black serves to visually 'push' the body even more to the foreground. I cut it off on or near the gummed tape...as this is how I sell them. It gives the buyer the freedom to have as little of the image or as much as they prefer, when it is finally mounted and framed. If I were framing this for exhibition I would leave as much as I could, to emphasise the empty, lonely feeling.



But as I am getting this made up into a card too, I have a trimmed size for my own use.




And that's that - one painting. And a cracked cup.



29 comments:

eydie said...

thanks for this, it's awesome, I will be following your blogging--I've added it to mine.

Joanna said...

Fasinating to see how you work, I could not have be waiting long enough for all those washes to dry. I like the way paint seperates and goes all granualy, I find blues very good for that, its funny how some colours do it more than others. His a lovely elepahnt and does indeed look very lonely and sad. I'm always fascinated by how you can place an object on a piece of paper and convey so many emotions by its size position.

Gigibird said...

I used to paint in watercolour until it got the better of me.You make it look so simple - but anyone who has ever tried knows how difficult it is.
Beautiful results.

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Well, I was fascinated by your explanation and step by step...and I'm captivated by that sweet lonely little blue guy...
(())

Soozcat said...

Gretel, you do such beautiful work.

At the risk of sounding stupid, I must ask--what is that white rectangle above Mr. Blue's head? I can't identify it.

PG said...

Hi Sooz! It's a little window, if you click on one of the images, you'll see that there it is a patch of blue and a bit of white wall. :) Which is where the light is coming from.

Gail said...

Hi Gretel - nice of you to share this process and great to see the final result (he's gorgeous by the way - I just want to pick him up and give him a cuddle!). I have one question though - your outlines and details like the stitching - are these worked up in coloured pencil or somthing else?
Thanks
-Gail

PG said...

Thank you Gail! :) Yes, all the image is traced lightly (4H or 5H)onto the paper before stretching; it oftn fades when I soak the paper, and start putting washes on and then later when it is dry I decide which bits to leave looking more painted and which bits to pull out - stitching is always redone with a darker pencil, H or 2H. The outlines often get a thin darker line where the different washes meet, sometimes I use this for the outine , sometimes I very carefully take it out wih tiny amounts of clean water and clean tissue, (I try not to this too often as you risk mucking the whole wash up with fiddly fussing) let it dry completely and then go over with pencil, very thinly, often using a combination of darker pencil (H - HB) in the shadow, and changing to lighter where the light is falling (2H- 3H)- so in short, yes, I pick out small important details with pencil. :)

Pearl said...

Oh my goodness....So much work and knowlege goes into creating one of your masterpieces. I knew when I first saw your work that it was something very special. Thanks for letting me have a little insight on how you come up with such soft, loveable characters.

Hugs,

natural attrill said...

Cute elephant G.
Nice to see how you work too.
P.x

Viggy La Q said...

I send a cuddle to the blue nellyphant. Gorgeous, gorgeous work, Gretel. Process insight is fabulous, too...

xx

Caroline B said...

Lovely to see it finished and how you work - thank you. (Glad someone adopted him...)

Jess said...

This is fascinating! I'm now well and truly hooked on watercolour and when people ask me how my 'painting' is going they're really talking baout my acrylics on canvas and I feel a bit naughty having defected without telling anyone...(yet!) Thanks Gretel for this post, I really enjoyed it. x

Debbie Miller of Onion Patch said...

So beautifully done - I love watching this paint dry! Great work Gretel!

Frances said...

Thank you for the lessons. You are a very skilled and generous teacher. The photos really do show the stages of care that lead to the finished painting, that is so full of grace.

Well done!

Eric Orchard said...

Realy wonderful. I love that you allow for certain unknowns-like detaching colours-and make it work, in fact make it vital to the finished work. I love the little window, it's a really cool visual device and adds to the narrative. I've never seen anyone use gouache like this. You really take it away from that finickiness(?) that can happen when using a medium like that. I love the detail of the cup, it looks so elegant and really stands up to the standard I learned in school-every square inch should have some beauty to it.

Anuradha malik Jagdhari said...

You really paint well for someone with no training. I really like blue without you.

Becca said...

Fabulous! Really just fabulous. I hope you will do more paintings.

ellen said...

All of this is way above me a non artist, but I do appreciate reading about your process and the steps you take to create your art.
One of the things that I love about your work is the emotion that you are so skilled in conveying. It astounds me!

Tomas Karkalas said...

Wow, 55 years old man has felt himself the baby while watching at the birth of your awesome picture - THANK YOU!

I am proud of adding you to my blogroll.
I would greatly appreciate your comments on my works. Just click on a link http://www.captains-bridge.blogspot.com/ and you will see my all other locations on a web there too.
Thank you .
Sincerely yours
Tomas Karkalas

elizabethm said...

Fascinating insight into how you work PG. And the finished effect is beautiful.

LittleBrownDog said...

Absolutely fascinating to learn how you work. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I love the way your pictures look almost magical - as though they evolved somehow onto the paper and took on a life of their own. Truly gorgeous - you have a rare talent.

webmaster pomona said...

water color is one thing i really feel nervous messing with, but you do it so well. nice touch, lovely texture.....

Soozcat said...

Ah! I see the window now. Bit slow on the uptake but I do eventually catch on. :) Thanks.

gilfling said...

Such a beautiful image Gretel and wonderful to see the complicated process too. I have only scratched the surface of using watercolour and always mix it with other mediums - I certainly don't have the skill it needs to use it on it's own! Alot can be hidden amongst 10 different mediums but this is so much more pure and delicate. Lovely

Chris.P said...

Thanks for the insight into your working practice gretel.

Wet on wet is a beast that few can tame. You are one of the few.

Merisi said...

"Not something they could sell ..." - what arrogance! Maybe you should frame that sentence.
Wonderful work, Gretel, thank you for sharing its creation.

matt said...

Gretel, thank you for the step by step look at your process! And, as always, a beautiful picture!!

John Nez said...

Interesting demo of watercolor graininess... always a nice touch. I find Paynes grey often makes a bit of grain.

WHY am I suprised to discover you have an accent? (watching your movie).

Funny... I'm quite certain I have no accent at all.

:0)