Sunday, April 19, 2015

Can I Fix This?

How many times have we heard  watercolor described as being "the hardest medium to use"....."you only have one chance" and so on. I'm the first one to say that there are times when you've lost the glow, the transparency is gone, the colors are "muddy" - and it's a lost cause.  BUT - my experience is that there really is a lot that you can do to resolve problems, and rescue a painting. 

Here's an example that happened to me this week. In my illustrations for the book 'I Am Coyote", one of the paintings shows a young coyote leaving her parents to move out on her own. She has moved away from them, across a stream and is looking back at them. 

Since the painting is 22 x 30" and it is going to be greatly reduced for the book, I felt I couldn't make her too small, as she would become too indistinct. Here is the result of that decision:

You can see that her head as well as the body where it joins the head are both too large - what to do? There was only one solution. Lift out the head and some of the body and repaint. Scary? YES!! I have many hours invested in this painting already. But, no choice.

After I let the paper dry completely, I redrew the head and chest and began again. Here's the result:

Now she is back far enough that she is in the correct proportion to the foreground and yet still visible when reduced to the size of the page. This was an interesting problem to solve, as I was dealing with not only the perspective sizes of the three coyotes, but the need to keep her a bit larger than I would otherwise would have done. 

My real point in this post is that when something isn't right, there's only one choice, and that is take whatever risks are necessary in order to make it right. And you would never know that I lifted all of that pigment and re-painted. This painting is on 300# Arches hot press paper. I have found it to be very forgiving and the love the texture I can create on it. If you haven't tried it, you may find that you enjoy it as well. I choose my paper that I think will be best for my subject matter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reality Vs. Mysticism

Recently I was asked to paint illustrations and the cover for a book titled "I Am Coyote, Who Are You?". At first, the suggestion was that I create an image where coyote is not quite hidden behind snow-covered branches, with lots of blues and siennas in her face. Here's what I cam up with:

The letters were just laid on the painting to see if there was enough room for them!

When I finished the painting, I knew that it was not what the author wanted. I called her and she came right over. Sure enough. She said that she wanted a "mystical, golden creature". Very different from my first assignment!

I had ten minutes of anxiety. How does one paint a "golden, mythical creature"?
Then I just went to work, and here is the result:

The author loved it.

I thought I would write to you about this, because it shows two very different approaches to the same subject. Just imagine what could happen with a still life, or a landscape if one took two such different ways of portraying the subject?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about how you plan the mood and message of your paintings. Just write a comment below and I'll respond right away.

Happy Painting!