Drawing for preliminary watercolor, and prioritizing time

I’ve finally copied over a pencil-linework drawing of my original image (for Painting), to Watercolor paper, full-size.  I haven’t started filling it in yet, but I suppose that if I can work with it under fluorescent light (it’s just a greyscale image), I might, might be able to be done with it by tomorrow so that I can gesso my canvas for the full-size image in acrylic — which I need to do as soon as I can.

I intended to work on the watercolor this morning, but I ended up sleeping until about 10 as versus 7:30…which cut out almost all of my morning work time.

I would post an image of my drawing here, but I did this in 2B pencil with extremely light lines, first.  I’ve now succeeded in darkening the main outlines to a more medium-gray shade (it’s looking a lot like an illustration, right now — which I really like), but I’m not sure it’s worth trying to photograph, at this point.  What I can say is that the gesture drawing approach is helping, even though my drawing is still pretty tight.

I’ve been trying to work on the entire image at once in order to retain proportion and scale, and I think I’ve been pretty successful at it, for this to be my first time consciously using the approach. I’ve also been working on the flow of lines from my arm and shoulder, trying not to be too uncaring about the flow of lines as they might appear.  Should I actually become an Illustrator, the flow of lines will likely be very important, even if my clients don’t know why it looks the way it does.

I used thumbnails to attempt to map what to crop in and out, and found a nice way to do it, last week.  Today I altered the photo, printed it again cropped, and transferred it over to the 9″x11″ Watercolor paper.  Although it’s a lot of labor, I’m considering trying to do one more thumbnail to attempt to get my value placement right, before working on the big image.  I mean, it took long enough to draw; I don’t want to mess it up like I did the first thumbnail of this I tried to paint in. (I attempted to put the darkest values in first, which led to their bleeding when I unthinkingly did a wash over them).

However, I at least think I know what method I’m going to use for gradations; it will just be more…”graphic” than I would like.  It will look very much like there is light in the painting, though.

I don’t quite know how to get a smooth gradation with Cotman Lamp Black…it’s fine for making various dark tones, but to get all the shades smoothly grading into each other is kind of fiddly, because the lower layers can wipe away when the upper layers are added.  Plus, if one tries to reinforce the lightest white areas by adding water, the water bleeds outward and runs into the pigment, pushing it out to the edges of the form.  That then basically negates all the work done to attempt to get a gradation — I get a flat grey circle with a scrawly black outline.

So what I’ve decided to do is work in layers — put in the lightest tones first, and then just keep adding more and more layers of darkness on top, without trying to blend the darker and lighter layers into anything “smooth.”  I’ll just have lots of visible layers of color.

The one success I did get while trying to smooth out the value transitions had to do with rewetting the entire object with every additional layer of color, and working from the lightest area to the darkest area with my brush, in order to control the bleeding.  But — then the highlight gets blown out because the pigment gets pushed around and away from the highlight, right.  Plus, the darkest values get lightened and I never get a true black, because the bristles of the brush are wiping up the pigment. It’s just not worth it.

The second thing that happened today:  I’m (very) heavily considering dropping the Art Lab.  I think there are enough people signed up.  In fact I nearly dropped it this morning, but was advised to take an absence and think about it.

What I had proposed to do would be a major project for this semester, and that’s on top of my reading for Art History and my other two Studio Art classes.  That, in turn, would be pretty unbalanced, because the Lab itself is only one unit, as versus the other eight which I need to be working on.

I think it would be of more benefit to me to work on foundations first and then move into something more advanced, like a comic or Graphic Novel project.  Now that I’ve gotten everything broken down, I can easily work on this when I have the time — after homework, not as homework.

I also saved about six hours of working time today by not working on the comic-style story and not going to Lab — I was just working on my painting at home, which was much more efficient.  I wouldn’t have known that taking on an extra project via Lab was going to impact me so much, except that I did an Excel sheet last night plotting out my work time, and realized I have two projects due next week and haven’t started working on them yet.  I can’t handle a load like that and also my own personal stuff.

Also, I’ve started reading my Figure Drawing text (Chapter 1 completed), and I feel, really, like I’m better off in knowing what I’m doing now than I was before I’d done the reading.  Of course, the reading was kind of hard to absorb, because there was a lot of metaphor and specialized language and looking at drawings — but I think I get it.


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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