Blue sky in 8 stages

I had to put down a large wash yesterday. This is a private commission which I am determined to get finished this week. I decided to go hell for leather and put the sky background in without stopping out or even loosening the paper up with a clean water wash. It was about as near to a roller coaster ride as painting ever gets; you've got to move really quickly, alternating between big wash mops and smaller detail brushes - first get the quantity down...

...then take it up to the edges with a smaller brush, working quickly to keep the wash whole and unlined while doing this, keeping a spare eye out for areas of wash which are evaporating too quickly and may cause tide lines. To help the wash stay 'wet' I've added a few drops of ox-gall.

It can be a bit fiddly and this was the worst bit - trying to get the edges filled in before the rest of it dried. A wash should ideally be put down in one big, fluid 'go'. However, I've been doing this for a long time now, and you get a sixth sense of how to manage it - practise is something that can't be taught. You learn little tricks and twiddles - most of all you learn to keep your eye on the ball.

And it's done. About 45 minutes of constant brush work. I've slighly encroached over the edges in places, but that can be sorted out later.

Here's an example of a patch which has dried unevenly - you can see the blotch made by the tideline. I fixed it by adding a little dilute blue wash and gentle mopping with a damp sponge, amalgamating it into the rest of the nearly dry wash. This had to be done very carefuly, to keep the overall smoothnesss.

Then I decided to add an extra bit to the beak...I can't remember what these things are called, but male birds seem to have them. It would add an extra bit of character and colour. Decision - would it wreck the painting or could I successfully do a bit of 'plastic surgery'?

First I flooded the pencilled area with clean water and using a dry tissue, soaked up as much of the blue as possible. It has stained the paper but I'm hoping that the new colour will cover that.

...which it has. There is some darkening where the original sky bit is showing through, but I've got to add pencil work later on and the light is to fall across the bird from the left - so it will actually enhance the effect. Now I can relax and enjoy the rest of the painting. The worst is over!


Gretel said...

haha, things do creep in, don't they! Would love to see some of your work. None on your blog...

lorna said...

Hi PG,

Very interesting to see you do a large wash in one go without masking fluid. I've recently started doing this too because I just can't get masking fluid to paint on accurately enough no matter what I try. It is surprising how well you can stay 'in the lines' in a painting like this. Secret is mixing enough paint at the beginning. (the number of times I've run out of a colour 3/4 of the way through a big wash!


Gail said...

Well done, it looks good.

I guess you've got someone else taking the pics?

Sometimes it's just overcoming those barriers and getting going. I used to use masking fluid, but it either marks the paper, tears the finish or doesn't block out completely.

Gretel said...

The person who invents the perfect masking fluid will be onto a Good Thing. The one I've found best (no yellowing, no tearing, no ranking ammonia smell) is Schminke - it also comes in a very small bottle, so you actually get to use it all up, instead of it all rubberising into a blob.

Gail - I took the pics - which may have been a bit foolhardy under the circs! (holding brush for pose, while trying to take focussed picture with left, close up...)

Aaron Paquette said...

This is a very interesting journal. I'm amazed by the stove! It sounds wonderful to have a nice fire going, keeping things warm inside on a cold. damp evening.

I'm not an illustrator, per se, and I find your work to be quite interesting and different from the gallery system I am used to.

Thanks so much for sharing, I'll definitely return.

lorna said...

Yes, schminke is good because you can paint it over areas that have already been painted and it doesn't remove the colour. Although I find that rubbing it off again gives my poor little fingers blisters!

Gretel said...

Thnka you Aaron, you've got some very good sites yourself, really good reading and strong images. Ok to put a link to your blog from here, please?

Gretel said...

Hi Lorna, I didn't know that about putting Schminke over painted areas, a very useful thing.

How much rubber solution do you use to give yourself blisters??!!!

Mind is boggling...