Lately I have been working on large paintings. Because of the time involved I was missing the instant gratification from doing smaller studies. So I set aside some time to do a “rapid series”. This is freedom at its best! I work on paper and set up to do 6 at once. As I usually work from pure intuition in this approach I do a series of thumbnail sketches. I get my idea by using my plein air viewfinder and looking for strong compositions in magazine photos. These are not the entire photo but just a little part of something. This really hones your eye for composition. I then take my idea and draw several value studies and variations on the idea.
Now I am ready to get to work. I am using 300 lb. Arches cold press watercolor paper for these. I start by tearing the paper into half the long way and then into thirds. This gives me 6 pieces that measure 10 x 11″. I then use the blue low tack painters tape and tape a boarder. Because I like working square I use two rows of tape at the bottom. My finished painting will be 8×8″. I learned this tape trick in a Gwen Fox workshop I took.
Now it is time to gesso the paper. The reason for this is to seal the edges of the tape and to reduce the absorbancy of the watercolour paper as I am going to be painting with acrylic. Today I choose white gesso for my ground.
I want to set some parameters before I start so I am not like a kid in the candy store!
- Limit my palette, I am using Quinacradone Nickle Azo Gold, Titanium White, and Cadmium Red
- Charcoal for mark making ( I like how this smudges with the paint and greys it down)
- My trusty kitchen timer (I use the Pomodoro technique to keep my focus)
- A working matt to fine tune my progress ( that blue tape is distracting)
- One Catalyst blade
- Fine liner Bottle
- 2 flat paintbrushes
I think I am ready to get started. I set the timer for the first twenty five minute session.
I work on all six paintings simultaneously. The first thing I did in this series was to make some marks with the charcoal.
Now it is time to start adding in the colour. I am using the Titanium white and the Nickel Azo Gold for the back ground layer. I love how the charcoal mixes a muted gray because it is not fixed.
I refer to my value study to block in some mid tones with the Nickle Azo Gold
Now it is time to add some black shapes. Notice how I scratch back to reveal some of the under colour. I use a bamboo skewer or a knitting needle to do this.
The cool thing about working on six is by the time you get back to the beginning of the row the acrylic is dry. Oh oh-the timer just rang! Time for a five minute break before another session. This keeps my focus strong!
Finishing up is where you need more focus. I start by looking at them individually in the matt now to get a sense of what they need.
I will use the Fineliner to draw some black lines and the Cadmium red to add my accent circle. How I get that perfect circle is my little secret! I go back and add some more white and scratch back with my catalyst blade.