A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

February 13, 2012

Commission: Delicate Arch - The process of a painting

So, I am in process of a commissioned painting of Delicate Arch.
Here is another "process" post for those who are interested.

I started out by scanning through my several reference photos of Delicate Arch. I have been lucky enough to hike up to the arch twice so far in my lifetime, and I took several photos both times, so I have a lot of angles to choose from. Perhaps me and hubby will have a chance to hike up again in the next year or two before he reaches a point when that particular hike won't be possible for him (due to balance and fatigue issues with PD). But, I am glad to say we have done the hike together once and have pics to show for it!

I chose the reference photo I used on my last painting of Delicate since that is the one that was desired for the commission, but it's good to look through them all just to get "in the mood." :)

Next comes the sketch.

Techniques I like to use when sketching: 

1-I print out an extra copy of my reference photo. Decide on the best composition and crop the photo the way I want it. Then I fold the photo into equal parts in order to create a grid.

2-I measure out the drawing space on my watercolor paper and make little marks along the sides to indicate the grid as well. I don't draw lines all the way across the paper because the more eraser marks you make, the more it wears down the natural feel of the paper and then you get undesired pooling of the paint in areas you didn't intend. So, I try to make as few erase marks as possible.

3-I use a 3H pencil to sketch and as light of lines as possible. It's acceptable for pencil lines to show through on your watercolor paper - at least in my world it is. :) Some artists do not like their lines to show and will erase them afterwards. I prefer to let them stay on the paper and show if they happen to show at the end. I was trained by artists who feel that the sketch is a part of the painting. I share that opinion.

4-Another trick to sketching when using a reference photo (besides the grid lines) is to sketch it upside down. This helps your mind see only shapes rather than trying to draw a picture of some "thing."

After the sketch...time to stretch the paper. (Some artists will stretch the paper first, then sketch. I usually sketch first).

I take the paper and spray it down in my tub, both sides, using the shower head on a soft setting. If it is a smaller painting, I may just hold it under the tap. Either way, make sure both sides of the paper have been soaked with water...and be careful not to rip it while wet.

Then, lay the paper on the board or hard surface you are using as a stabilizer, and staple down the edges. (Sometimes I will also tape the edges after the paper has dried. Gives a nice edge effect after you are done with the painting to pull the tape off and see a nice white border. But, I didn't do that this time.

Once the paper is on the board, you will need to wait for it to dry. I usually wait overnight for mine.

The wet paper will have buckles and wrinkles in it - will make you nervous. But, not to worry. When it dries it will be flat. :)

The purpose of "stretching" is to allow the paper to soak up some water before laying on paint. Then the paper doesn't soak up as much of the pigment when you put your first washes down and you will have more vibrant colors.

I use masking fluid to mask out any white paper areas I might need to save (like snow or clouds), though sometimes you can paint around the whites rather than masking. Depends on your needs for the painting. Then, I start the process of washes, laying down the lightest colors first.

First wash - sky, background mountains

First wash

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