The second wash is near the center of interest and the middle ground. Pattern for me is the most important part of the composition. So knowing where to leave the white of the paper is critical. As I develop the movement in the water, I need to concentrate on the size and shapes.
Step 1 -paint light to dark in watercolor.
The paper used for this painting is Khadi hand made paper from India. It has a very rough and very irregular texture. It has a lot of very weak surface sizing and very little internal sizing. Therefore it works best when painting directly and not with layering.
I want to get the darkest values on the first application. It is also easy to lift at this stage. So if I do get too dark on the first wash it is easy to lighten later, which I plan to do in the very dark rock.
I started with a very light wash above the rock to make sure that the edges would not be too hard. I will soften it more when I adjust the dark.
This is a full color painting, which means that I will be using all of the colors on my palette. I will limit the use of the yellows because they are too opaque and I want to keep this more transparent.
I have a folder on my computer of subjects that I NEED to paint. After viewing all of them, I am drawn once again to rocks and water. I did some comps on the computer and will now need to do some with paint.
Below is the original photo and then the computer comps.
I will post the steps each day until the painting is completed.
I decided to lift the color in the dark rock to get it lighter, however the colors I used were mostly staining colors and did not lighten very much.
So, I added a wash of white acrylic paint to the area to get it lighter. Now that it is dry, I can go back into that rock to give it some form. The acrylic white will act like gum arabic to seal the surface—in theory.
The warmer rocks that I added to balance the temperature worked well except for the value. I scrubbed the area first to get rid of some of the blue that was there. Scrubbing removed any internal sizing and the pigment is absorbed into the paper. I had to put 4 washes to get it right. I even put some gum arabic to seal the area! So, if you ever try using the Khadi paper, keep in mind that it will be very interesting to work with.
Plan A was to keep the water in the background in the cool blue range of colors to balance the warm colors of the rocks. After finishing that area, I felt that the cool colors were a bit too isolated from the rocks.
Plan B–add some warm colors. I did that as some reflections in the water from rocks that are outside of the composition. That gives the viewer a mental picture of more rocks continuing beyond the water.
One more step to complete the painting and that will be to add any details or contrast or to get rid of any more of the whites.
Once the center of interest is established, I know how much or little to develop in the rest of the composition. Most of this step involves creating more depth and movement in the water in the background. That area is mostly negative space so I don’t want to give it too much contrast so that it becomes positive space. I applied very light washes of Manganese Blue in the top and then some warmer Cobalt Blue and finally some Ultramarine Blue as I came forward in the painting.
I painted over some of the white spaces and left others depending on the movement that I wanted.
There was a little too much cool color and not enough warm color, so I put a warmer wash on the light side of some rocks to balance the temperature.
Establishing the center of interest is the next step. Defining the movement of the water and adding contrast and color near the center area. The key was darkening the water at the base of the large rock to soften the edge.
The shapes of the white spaces to create the movement is critical. Once the white of the paper is eliminated, you can’t get it back unless you resort to scraping and tearing of the paper. As I mentioned, this paper is very soft once the surface size is removed, and will tear easily. I will do some scratching in this area but not until I adjust the white spaces in other parts of the painting. It is amazing how white the whites appear once you get rid of all of the other whites.
The whites that I will keep will be for indication of movement.
The third step is actually the first step of the block-in, which establishes the areas of light, middle and dark values, creating the pattern of the composition. When I painted the lower portion of the composition, I had to keep in mind that I wanted it to be a dark valued area, but not as dark as my darkest part which is the large rock near the top.
Each area of value has a light, middle and dark value. So, this area had to be darker than the value of the rocks on the left side of the painting because I want those to be a middle value, but not as dark as the darkest value.
When I finished this step, I noticed that the darkest rock had a shape that looked like a submarine stuck in the rocks. Planning is the key to a good painting! So, I added a dark shape behind it to disguise the sub. I will do a bit more in the following steps.