Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let's Catch a Little Sun - WIP stages explained.

This post is to share the work-in-progress at various stages how the painting 'Let's Catch a Little Sun' was developed in watercolor.
Fig 01
To begin with, a clear tonal value study was done prior the start of the painting to finalize the composition in terms of distribution of light and dark shapes over the available rectangular space, [Fig 01]. The thumbnail sketch needs not to be a detailed one however it should have enough information to be able to use it as a road map to develop the watercolor painting. It helps to reduce any confusion about tonal value placement in the middle of the painting. Based on the value sketch, a very light outline was marked on the water color paper to place the main element. The paper used here was a 300 gsm [140 lb] Fabriano cold pressed paper which has medium surface texture. The paper is securely taped with masking tape on a drawing board.
Fig 02
A very loose and juicy wash was laid from the top left corner of the paper letting it flow downward taking advantage of gravity while keeping the board at an angle, [Fig 02]. Various cool and warm colors were allowed to mix and mingle directly on the paper to keep them vibrant and fresh. While top edge of the geese was painted with a hard edge to define the catching light against dark, the bottom portion was painted over the edge and inside to merge with the background. This helps to maintain the play of soft and hard edges at later stages of a painting,

Fig 03

The wash was continued towards the bottom right side including the underside of the geese all in one go to keep soft blending of various colors, [Fig 03]. At this stage it is important to consider the various underlying color placements as they will show through layers of transparent washes later on and will maintain a harmony as well freshness. It is also important to 'preserve' the white of the paper as the lightest value as per the value sketch right from the beginning. Though small portions of the white paper can be brought back to light by lifting colors while it is still damp or even after it has dried, it is very hard to get back to the pure white paper once color is applied and specially if stained pigments are used. Notice the bold splatters towards the bottom portion of the painting. This Simple approach helps to create textures and interest without dominating the main focus.

Fig 04
Once the first wash has dried completely, the 1st layer of dark green foliage is applied again from the top left corner of the paper, [Fig 04]. This layer was also painted with loose brush strokes. The few areas which missed the brush marks conveys some leaves catching light on the dark background. It also helps adding some interest on that big darker shape.

Fig 05
The challenge of this painting was to maintain that sharp light by painting juicy dark pigments without loosing the overall vibrancy of the painting. Also to capture the beautiful and bright reflected light and the form shadow on the white geese without adding much details. Starting from the orange beak, continuing through the head, neck, chest, the feathers through the bright orange legs towards the casting shadow on the ground was painted as a connected shape, [Fig 05]. Care was taken to maintain tonal values and changes of color temperatures. Notice how the feet are merged together with the ground giving the illusion of one single shape.

Fig 06
Added some definitions on the feathers catching light and creating form shadows, underside of the body, the legs and enhanced the cast shadow to balance with dark shape from the top left side of the painting, [Fig 06]. Extra care needs to be taken at these final stages of the painting to avoid over working and keeping off extra brush marks which may ruin the freshness of the painting after the initial hard work.

Fig 07
The dark was enhanced from top left corner towards bottom to create contrast near the head as this is main focal area of the painting, [Fig 07]. Also splatters were added to the bottom of the dark shape to connect with the ground with similar textures. The tone and intensity of the beak was enhanced to capture the back lite effect as well the bright reflected light. The eye was defined and it was time to sign off the painting.

It was a pleasant experience and I hope you enjoyed the stages as much as I did while painting through them. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave your comments down below. Thanks for going through the post :)!

Medium: watercolor on paper
Size: 13 ½ “ H x 9” W

Original reference picture courtesy by Smitha Shivaswamy. Thanks Smitha.


© Dhruba Mazumder, 2014. All rights reserved.


Freule van Oijen said...

this is so enlightning, you explain so well... I can see and understand what you do, may I ask which warm yellow you use? ANd do you mix the green or do you use a special green? Greetings from Oijen, Holland again Drhuba! Anne Marie

Daphne H Miller said...

Thank you so much. Demos often leave out important steps, but yours is very clear and detailed. Truly a generous gift. Thank you.

Shalini said...

Thank you for such a detailed step-by-step.. I enjoyed every stage shown. This is a beautiful painting..

ranjani said...

Hi Dhruba,
thanks for this wonderful demo. It was really nice. Hope to get more tips from you. Will surely try this one out.

Balaji Venugopal said...

Thanks Dhruba! Very clear and instructive blog post. will definitely try this and share with you.

Dhruba Mazumder said...

Hi Anne, Thanks for your comment. For warm yellow, I use Naples yellow [semi opaque] and Indian Yellow [transparent]. The names can differ according to other brands. I mix my own green from a mixture of yellow, blue and a bit of red or raw sienna. However at times I also mix from Viridian green [transparent]and yellow with a touch of red to neutralize it. Natural green can be made from a mixture of various colors. Hope this is helpful. Cheers from India.

Dhruba Mazumder said...

Thank you very much, Daphne, Shalini, Ranjani and Balaji sir for your encouraging words. Much appreciated. This will help me to share more posts with tips. I am looking forward to see your versions as well. The similar technique can be applied in other watercolor paintings as well. Please go ahead, paint and share.

Joyeeta Neogi said...

Beautiful watercolor! Your work is Amazing! Thanks for sharing your process!

Dhruba Mazumder said...

Thank you very much, Joyeeta for visiting my blog and for your kind words. Much appreciated.