Playing with color mixing

Last night’s project did inspire me to see what kind of a color gamut I’d be able to produce with gouache (opaque watercolor). I also took note of the fact that colors mixed using the same pigments tend to harmonize.

With that in mind, and also knowing that I didn’t know my gouache well enough to tell how each color related to the next, tonight I just sat down and started painting out and mixing colors (without attempting to do anything like the lightfastness chart I completed last night for my transparent watercolors).

prismatic (rainbow) color mixing chart
I seem to have missed an intense red-violet and yellow-green. Right now I’m wondering what kind of muted colors and chromatic greys I can get out of this prismatic range.

It’s probably immediately apparent that I seem to be interested in cool colors more than warm ones. The above chart was made using seven colors, all Holbein with the exception of Permanent Rose and Intense Blue, which are Winsor & Newton brand:

  1. Permanent Rose
  2. Primary Magenta
  3. Ultramarine Light
  4. Intense Blue
  5. Peacock Blue
  6. Lemon Yellow
  7. Permanent White

Pretty much all the colors in the image are mixed rather heavily with Permanent White, so that the colors can actually be recognized. Both of the brands of paint I used here don’t have white as a filler in the gouache itself (neither does M. Graham & Co.). This is a sign of quality. It also means that the paint often needs to be mixed with white for both opacity, and for the color to be visible: I can see that if I use these often, I will likely need white in a larger quantity.

However, I don’t need it yet.

Peacock Blue is the only paint here which contains more than one pigment in its tube (there is some Phthalo Green mixed in there along with Phthalo Blue), and is also the only paint containing a pigment which isn’t essentially a primary color.

I used three blues, here, because I wanted to see what they would do. Intense Blue is a Phthalo color, while Ultramarine Light is…what it looks like. I wanted to see if I could make clear violets out of it, and the answer is apparently yes.

The Ultramarine I had experience with, prior, was Ultramarine Deep — it makes violets so dark (close to black) that I haven’t made the time to properly dilute them to see their actual character. Ultramarine can come with a green or violet bias. It looked like Ultramarine Deep was a violet-bias paint while Ultramarine Light was a green-bias paint, but the latter still works well for violets (apparently!). It just needs a nice violet-leaning reddish color like Permanent Rose or Primary Magenta.

I tried to mix colors which I thought would be adjacent to each other on the color wheel — so, for instance, I didn’t try mixing violets with Phthalo Blue as a component. Not yet.

Something that did surprise me is that Permanent Rose (top left corner) plus Lemon Yellow make a color extremely similar to Flame Red, even though both Permanent Rose and Lemon Yellow are on the cool side of the color gamut for both red and yellow. Flame Red, however, is a warm, intense red-orange. The mixture I’m referencing is in the lower left corner of the image above, and closer in color to Winsor & Newton’s Flame Red than Holbein’s Flame Red.

Given that…I am wondering if I got Peacock Blue because it was close to cyan, or just because it was pretty…the fact that red can be mixed from magenta + yellow is something I had heard about but not experienced, until now. (I’m talking about the CMYK system of color mixing, where red is not seen as a true primary color because you can get red from magenta + yellow, but you can’t derive magenta from anything we presently know of.)

Alright, I’ve talked enough tonight. I’m kind of itching to get back to my planning journal — I’ve been making notes about the content of future posts without the necessity of actually publishing them, yet. The fact that I had discovered that Web Production could be a full-time job is part of what I mentioned last night…essentially it’s like being an editor, but online.

That would be a really interesting outlet, I think! It involves the generation and development of ideas, content, and — likely, if my instruction in Marketing serves — the questions of relevance to the organization’s goals and user base. This would be in contrast to making the website functional (Web Development), or making it aesthetically pleasing and communicate in a user-friendly manner (Web Design).

I generally shy away from being in charge of things, but I could see myself working in a Web Production capacity, especially if I were passionate about the project…


Finally getting back to watercolors; also, toying with Digital Imaging again.


So I finally cleared all the sewing stuff off the craft table and started on my lightfastness chart. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about this: I have space for 60 swatches, and at least 35 or so transparent watercolors to test. I have far fewer colors in gouache, though still a substantial collection.

This is kind of sad because the gouache doesn’t get used very often: it’s not the easiest medium to work with. Not that I don’t want to use it, I just haven’t taught myself what I can do with it yet. (I already know a bit of what I can’t do with it!) It seems to require an approach I haven’t been thoroughly exposed to. Besides this…is the fact that it doesn’t seem to be an entirely popular (or understood) painting medium.

There is, however, the possibility of searching for a bit of this information…sometimes I forget that there is information readily available if i know where to look (and that I can look).

I have only had time to get through the first three or so cool (as versus warm) reds, so far as swatching goes, with the transparent watercolors. What I can say is that Alizarin Crimson, although I loved it before, doesn’t look all that great next to Permanent Rose, the latter of which is just a gorgeous violet-leaning pinkish red which blossoms much more easily, wet-in-wet. In comparison, Alizarin is brownish; though I don’t know if this is from degradation in the tube, or if it was always like this.

I’m not entirely certain how much of the differences will be apparent on photographic upload, though. The last time I tried this with blues, the camera (or my monitor?) couldn’t distinguish the subtle chromatic differences that I could see in real-life. There is, for instance, a notable difference between the character of Phthalo Blue and that of Prussian Blue (Prussian appears more muted and redder to me), and a large difference between Cobalt Blue and Phthalo (Phthalo is greener and more intense), but I don’t think that’s easily distinguishable, from the image below:

swatches of blue watercolors

I’m not sure if the problem lies in inadequate lighting, in the encoding of the data itself (e.g. camera lighting presets), in the inadequacy of my monitor, in the limitations of my present skills with image-editing software, or in the fact that computers just can’t display all the colors humans can see (the last of which, I know is currently true, regardless of any of the others).

If I couldn’t see the differences on my screen, I don’t know how well they would transmit to any of your screens (which are virtually guaranteed to be set up differently). There is the possibility of playing around with photographic enhancements, but I’m not realistically sure of the feasibility of that — my monitor hasn’t been properly calibrated to display images in as close to true-color as possible, and I’ve long since forgotten how to do it (if I ever did). It’s been a decade since my last Graphic Arts class, that is.

In any case, it’s a much simpler task for a computer to work with colors it innately understands. I’ve been toying around with a couple of programs which work with touch-screen capability, as regards writing notes, drawing, and digitally painting…which has been fun! Reading the End User License Agreements has not been fun, but toying around with this stuff, is. It took me a bit of time to realize that apps are there to be used and aren’t necessarily out to exploit me (in a harmful way, at least).

It’s just kind of interesting to think that I could take my tablet, take photos of the world around me, and draw from those photos on the same machine — and see what I’m doing as I’m doing it. A short time ago (say, when the Cintiq was the go-to option for a tablet where you could actually see what you were working on as you were drawing it — for however many thousands of dollars, I forget) this would have been prohibitively expensive. With the development of hardware and software to support it, though…working digitally has more of an appeal for me (especially as it would be unwise to take toxic paints, good brushes, etc. in to work, as I’ve mentioned before).

A couple of big advantages to digital art are that it’s portable and clean. I also trust that my colors will come out closer to what I intend if I code the color in hexadecimal, as versus creating something the computer doesn’t know how to interpret.

I think that most of all, I need to give myself permission to just experiment and play around — and try some approaches I haven’t, so far.

I think I can relax a bit, now. Just a little.

I feel like I should write something, but at the same time, what is there to say? Yet. I’ve completed two of three Finals, and the third Final already has hours of work put into it, from earlier in the semester. I’ve got some minor tweaks to do, but mostly things are looking good, there (unless I change something and everything breaks).

I’m talking about my Web Design Final; oddly enough, it looks like the majority of my work for this one will be painting—!! Which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. But I keep feeling like…there’s something else I should be doing on the computer. It probably comes from sitting here too long, and losing touch with reality.

Kinda…kinda half kidding, kinda not…

As I was setting up a page on my website…I realized (again) that most of the work which I’ve done (on paper) and liked, has relied on transparent watercolors, not gouache. So now I’m wondering again if gouache is the optimal medium for a website on color dynamics.

Gouache is really great for building clear, pure, strong color…but to use it and not have things come out looking chunky and blocky requires skill…that I don’t have at the moment?

In any case, I can rework the color wheel from 2007…it’s still readable, it hasn’t faded badly at all; but I was totally lacking in mixing skill at that time (this was towards the beginning of the class). What I mean by that is that I jumped from prismatic colors to chromatic greys with mostly no muted colors, in-between.

I can forgive myself for that because…well, it was a decade ago, and I hadn’t yet taken a real painting class. But when you’re youth and bold, and you don’t know how much you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s nothing to stop you from forging ahead.

Maybe as I got older, I got more cautious. (But if I illustrate that point, I’ll go off on a martial arts tangent which will require explaining…)

In any case, I can do the color wheel. The major issue is that it’s probably the hardest way to effectively mix paint, that is possible. It also uses up a lot of paint. But it may/will be a good exercise, I think. And paint is there to be used, you know? Not to sit there until it becomes dried cakes inside your tubes.

Yes, that…sounds like a plan, at least! I’ve just got to figure out whether I’ll be tweaking the image later in Photoshop, or whether I should just go buy some tinted acetate…

…yeah, I’m being cryptic again. Apologies…

I’m just thinking it will be easier to mask out irregular parts of an image before importing it to the computer, rather than dealing with odd-shaped selections in Photoshop (unless I just used circles to highlight the colors I’m talking about). Hmm.

Well, anyway. I’ve got a project for tomorrow!

Experimenting with papers and water-based media:

I think I’m getting better at the digital photography thing.  As I’ve been able to alter my camera settings for the quality of light, I’m having to do less cleanup work in Photoshop.  Even the Photoshop work has become routine, at this point…I should see what more I can do with it (aside from prepping photos for the Web).

So, these two photos are my sketches of a Bok Choy Mue, with color.  I do have lineart photos of these (before the watercolor), but I’m not sure if it would be overkill to post those.

Ah, whatever.  It’ll be good for me to see the bok choy in process, as well.  This is what they looked like before I hit the paper with transparent watercolor:

Really, the point of posting these is to let you see how the paper handled with water.  It does warp appreciably with large areas of wash (like the Payne’s Grey shadows in there), but for small areas of light watercolor work, it does better than I expected.  (I’ve seen worse from papers which say they can take light washes, including another variant of paper produced by Maruman.)  And it’s fairly decent as a drawing paper, as well.

As I said in a prior post, you’ll likely want to tape these down to a flat surface before you hit them with water at all.  This is something that I didn’t think of doing until I realized that, having taken the paper out of its pad, there was nothing whatsoever to stop it from curling.  By the time I got to these with the Artists’ Tape, though (it’s low-tack and relatively easy to remove), they had already begun to warp — and to dry (to set) in a warped form.  I’ve left the borders around these images visible so that you can see what actually transpired.

I’ll have to see what happens when I tape the paper from the beginning.


Ah — and, I almost forgot to show you what the cover of this pad looks like.  I bought it from Maido, a stationery store right across from Kinokuniya Books in Japan Center in San Francisco’s Japantown.  Because I had never used it before, I got a small size…and right now I’m thinking that next time I go back there, it will be OK to get this type of paper in a larger pad.  Here is a detail of the lower left corner:


On looking up what “Zuan” is meaning to refer to, I see a listing on Amazon which says that “Zuan” means “Design,” and is likely the brand of this specific type of paper, while Maruman is the manufacturer.

“Postcard size” means what it says…this is a tiny pad!  Almost too small to work with, and probably easy to blow through, if you’re like me and you find out you like this paper, and you can only fit one object on each page–!!!

What I’m posting below is an example of Holbein gouache on top of Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper.  This was also a relatively small test:  ArtAgain paper is not cheap!


I’ve cropped things so that they don’t read as…well, weird.  Hahehehe.

The shine on this paper is also something that I’ve run across multiple times while trying to photograph it.  I’m not really sure what I can do about it, other than use an actual nice camera with a polarized lens…but I’m not that advanced, yet.  Otherwise, I’d have to get away from an angle where the light is bouncing into the camera lens, without blocking the light source itself…(sunlight, in this case).

Everything in this photo that is bright white (other than the “J. Herbin” label in the upper left, which is from a Uni-Ball Signo white gel pen, and the circle at top left, which was drawn with a toothpick used to stir up my Daler-Rowney Pro White), is Holbein Permanent White gouache.  The pink and blue marks are Alizarin Crimson and Peacock Blue gouache, mixed with the white, respectively.  The translucent whites are either Pro White ink (as with the surprised spiral), or watered-down gouache (I can’t remember which one the snake on the right side, is).

And as those of you who can read kanji know, I’m very early into learning how to write these things!  (I’ve written, “Japanese language,” “bright,” “as for I,” and “person,” here…in what makes sense, at least.)  It is much easier to write nihongo with a brush than it is to write English with a brush, though (you can see my jacked “Holbein”), likely due to Japanese language being designed to be written with a brush.  (I honestly don’t know what English language was designed to be written with…)

I think that’s all I’ve got, for now.  Work was positive — they didn’t even expect me to come in!  But it was really nice to get some of the backed-up labor out of the way, meaning tomorrow will be much easier…

I’ve just got to assemble the ingredients for my homework, tonight…

Just trying to work out whatever’s in my mind, here:

I’m going to try to write, even though right now I’m feeling that I don’t have much to write about.  This, in turn, probably has happened because I haven’t been writing, daily.

Watercolor practice

I used some of the pre-mixed greens I had left on my palette, along with Sap Green, to “color in” (or add color to, or apply wash to) a couple of sketches I did of a Bok Choy Mue in one of my Maruman sketchpads…which I was amazed would take watercolor without warping too badly.  (It just says “Sketch Book” on the front, with no mention of branding other than the graphic design of the cover.)  You will want to tape the papers down, though, for best effect.

Although I did these last night, I didn’t take photos of them then, thinking that I would do it today.  However, I had to get up early for an appointment (woke, 7 AM) and ran out of steam at about 3:30 PM, sleeping through until dinnertime at about 7:30 PM.  So I still haven’t taken the photos…I’ll try and get one up of the Maruman sketch pad tomorrow.

I’m still kind of tired, but then:  I did take medications at about 9 PM (on time) because I have plans for tomorrow.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I neglected self-care tonight and got too sedated to be functional in 15 minutes…just a warning.

Ah! But!

I also found that my Strathmore ArtAgain paper (a deep black paper which I used in one of my older posts) is heavy enough to withstand wet media!  I haven’t yet tried to use washes on it, but it’s very apparent that I can draw and write on it with gouache and a paintbrush, and it doesn’t warp with light use of water.  This is an idea I got from Sarah Sullivan, though my approach differs from hers.

Basically, for me, using light media on dark paper allows me to paint in the light, as versus darkening something and progressively preserving the lights.  And using gouache (opaque watercolor) allows me to use Titanium White (also known as Permanent White; contrasted, I am thinking, with Lithopone) without concern of breathing in Titanium Dioxide dust.

Breathing nanoparticles of Titanium Dioxide dust has raised concerns about carcinogenicity, but I wouldn’t have known that without inquiring why so many pastels now had CA Prop 65 warnings, and CL (Caution Label) signifiers on them, even without heavy metal components.  It could be overkill by Prop 65 — but it has made me more aware of how I use pastels in my own work.

In a home environment, I don’t want to get the dust in the carpet and then vacuum up the dust, because all that may do is redistribute the dust, not contain it (I’m not sure if a HEPA filter is sufficient to contain nanoparticles, which are so small that they are transparent).

This means that if I use pastels — which I kind of don’t like to do anymore, given that it isn’t even good to get the pigments on one’s skin (and certain pigments do stain the skin and likely are absorbed transdermally [if one can’t get them off or out]), and I hate having to seal my drawings (which under normal circumstances can be very toxic — even using Aqua Net as a “non-toxic” cheap alternative in volume enough to seal a pastel painting smells noxious) — I would want to do it somewhere away from air intake vents and over a hard surface, so that I can mop up the loose dust.

To be clear:  the danger of cancer from Titanium Dioxide is not a toxic one, it is a mechanical one.  Loose airborne particles of Titanium Dioxide can get into your lungs and just never leave, and over time that can cause irritation (at least) and leave you at risk of lung problems…but just read your MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheets) to be sure.

It is nice to be able to manipulate pastels with one’s fingers, but it…just seems hazardous, right now.  Especially as it is very…apparent when in a classroom with a lot of kids using pastels, and wearing a dust mask, how full the air is of pastel particles when one removes that dust mask (I can literally smell the pastel dust, though a particle mask will block the smell).  I started wearing a dust mask, in turn, because I kept sneezing and smelling pastel for hours after a painting session.

If I were going to work with the broad sides of sticks of color, I might want to try the Prismacolor Art Stix — they’re colored sticks made of the pigmented cores of Prismacolor colored pencils.  I haven’t used the Art Stix yet, but I would expect them to have a different working method than pastels (even Prismacolor NuPastels — a hard pastel which is relatively nontoxic).  And, no, Prismacolor isn’t paying me, here.

For the record, I am not sure if coming into contact with colored pencil colors is hazardous or not (though I think the pigments are bound in oil or wax, and thus not hazardous…but I don’t know what happens when that stuff is hit with Gamsol [“odorless mineral spirits”], just to let you know that this is an option and that I haven’t tried it, and don’t know its hazards.  Gamsol, used primarily in oil painting, is used to liquefy — at least oil-based — colored pencils in order to get them to look like aquarelles, or watercolor pencils.  Prismacolors are wax-based, though; whether this works with oil-based pencils only, or both, I don’t know.  Also, I’m fairly certain Gamsol is toxic, but it’s supposed to be better than regular “mineral spirits”).

I do know that there is nowhere near as much dust with colored pencil as with pastel or pastel pencil.  There is some dust associated with colored pencil use (especially when applying heavy strokes), but I haven’t found it to be more than a small nuisance.

But anyway — I tested out two white inks on ArtAgain paper the other night, and found that both J.Herbin (?  I don’t know this brand; I just had a bottle of their white ink) and Daler-Rowney Process (“Pro”) White absorbed into the paper and faded.  Holbein Permanent White gouache, on the other hand, stayed on the surface of the paper and actually brightened as it dried.  Other colors can work as tints with white, but may not show up on their own against black (for instance, Alizarin Crimson).  There’s an argument for getting the 40 ml tube of Permanent White…(no, I’m not doing it yet)…

I would post my test paper, but I got into practicing brush lettering in Japanese, and it probably looks horrible compared to native calligraphy and says things I didn’t intend it to, so I…think I’ll save that.  ^_^;;

That aside, I now know why one of my books tells me to write “mu” in a way different from that in which I learned it:  it’s just too complicated to work with a brush, otherwise.

I’m getting a bit frustrated with not moving forward more quickly with the Japanese; then again, it isn’t my top priority.  Work, school, and keeping myself balanced, are.

Speaking of which, I’ve got to decide whether to do homework tomorrow, or not…

Watercolor play…doesn’t look as bad on camera as it did to me last night…amazingly…

Alright, so.  I have been working on playing around in watercolor…though I think the better examples of this happened when I took my time.  The little squares here are underneath my transparency swatches…which are basically just an index of the colors I have.  Really, the biggest pain about any of this is that the earth tones tend not to stick in the lid of my palette and instead separate as little chips that fall when I try and close it… >_<  …right.  Whoever said that design would work, anyway?

Initially, looking at this, I was thinking that, because of what I had been doing with the brush to achieve smoother gradations (pulling each color into the other with small brushstrokes), maybe I should be working in gouache, instead.  However…now that I look at it, I just see someone learning to control their medium at a very early stage.

I have gotten out the gouache:  trust me, I’ve gotten out the gouache.  😉  I haven’t done any comparisons yet between the different effects achievable with each media, though.

Trying to play around with blending wet-into-wet

Sorry about the photo quality…I still haven’t gotten the hang of this, yet.

Dry brush merging into drawing-like marks…?

Although in the past I could say that I really disliked (my own) dry-brush effects, when I look at it here, it actually seems to work.  (Kind of like how I don’t like to use hard charcoal or graphite sticks, but they have their uses?)  I’m pretty sure the upper pink is Permanent Rose; and the one under it is Permanent Magenta (in Winsor & Newton brand), in many other brands known as Quinacridone Violet (though W&N’s “Quinacridone Violet” is a completely different shade, leaning more blue than red).  This is what I mean by irregular labeling of paints.

The grainy green-blue above it is Viridian; actual Viridian, not “Viridian Hue.”  I did try blending this Viridian with Permanent Rose, and now suspect that the beautiful mixed tone I got (mentioned in multiple places, earlier) actually may have been Viridian Hue (W&N Cotman Phthalo Green) with Permanent Rose.  Viridian Hue (Phthalo Green) plus Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) are together in the top central square in the upper first photo of this post.  What can Phthalo Green be used for?  Try!  🙂

One thing I can say is that natural hair in a paintbrush makes a world of difference in that brush’s performance.  I first ran across this in Painting class, when I started using Sumi-e brushes with my watercolors, because they retained water and color better.  This is not a traditional use for them, so far as I can tell — but at least the regular Western transparent watercolors I’ve tried (largely Prangs and W&N colors), don’t seem to harm them.

I have at various times had three different types of Asian calligraphy brushes, though one of them (I think it was a Mao “Little Ying”) eventually died from irregular expansion of the handle.  That is, I think I left it in the water too long, and the bamboo split.  >_<;;  Because of the way it was constructed, about the only thing keeping it together at the end was probably a piece of string, and probably some glue.

The other bamboo-handled brushes I have are all Yasutomo (for some reason, it’s hard to find other brands than this in brick-and-mortar stores:  excepting Asian stationery stores), in a couple of different styles.  I have no idea what the different styles are actually intended to do, but they work for watercolor.  The ones I have all have a core of stiff hair, surrounded by a ring of soft hair.  They don’t keep their point well — you have to shape the tip prior to each stroke — but the touch is much softer and more delicate than with a synthetic.

Most recently, I picked up a little tiny #2 Robert Simmons “Sapphire” flat, which is maybe 1/8″ wide, and it’s so much easier to use than a full-on synthetic with watercolors, that it’s kind of weird.  In tiny sizes like the one I have, they’re actually affordable…

The Sapphires are a blend of red sable and synthetic fiber; but the amount of natural hair in them actually does make them handle differently when it comes to watercolors.  Laydown and color retention is smoother than what I’m used to from my completely-synthetic brushes (most of the rest of them, that is), which I’ve read have a tendency to dump their pigment load all at once.

Now that I look up this company online, I find that they are also the people who make the “Signet” hog-bristle brushes that I like for acrylics!

Hmm.  Wonder about that…

I’m not sure how natural brushes would fare with gouache.  Gouache has a tendency to get heavier, stickier, and stiffer than transparent watercolor.  I’ll give it a try with my synthetic brushes before I attempt anything with the real-hair brushes (the color-load-dropping thing may be a bigger issue with watercolors which are close to the consistency of water), though I’m thinking that maybe my heftier intended-for-acrylic brushes might be better off with those paints…

What’s going on with me lately (ooh ooh ooh yeah)

As I look back over my past 5 or so entries, I find that the relative rarity of my posting as of late has led to some rather large gaps in my records.

The good thing?  I’m relatively on track with my studies.  The negative thing?  I still have those two 2-point assignments hanging over my head, even though they’re about two weeks late, by now.  I suppose that I can take some time within the next week to clear this up.

I did also try …looking into the Disability Resource Center for my University.  However, I have found no material indicating that they offer resources for off-campus students.  From past experience, I know this isn’t true — the last time I registered with them (years ago), I did receive an OK for additional work time.  Right now, I’m wondering if it’s worth it, though — especially as I have to re-register every **** semester.

(yes, I bleeped myself)


In other realms, I was able to begin coloring my mandala with gouache last night (I can’t be expected to be working at all times), but have realized that perhaps I chose the wrong media for this, or at least should have laid down an underpainting in transparent watercolor, if not overpainting with it as well.

There was no paint laid down on the paper before the gouache.  Because of the relatively dry/thick character of the gouache, and the fact that I am using cold-press (rough) watercolor paper and not Bristol board, I now have gaps of white paper showing through between different areas of color.  There is one solution for this that I know of:  more paint.  It would work if I were using acrylics.  Problem is, I’m not.

The difficulty is that gouache has a tendency to lift from the paper if too much water is applied on top of previous dried layers (or at least, this was the case when I was painting on Bristol).  This creates patches of color which…are basically blistered; when the blister lifts, it is obvious — gouache, in my experience, isn’t quite so opaque as to disguise this.  (This is not an issue with acrylics — I am thinking of Holbein Acryla gouache, right now, but am not sure what the selling point would be of a hybrid between gouache and acrylic paint.)

Right now I’m wondering whether I want to try and salvage this, or start working on something more abstract and less precise.  I’m thinking of working with transparent watercolor first, maybe some loose wet-into-wet stuff, and some layering; then gouache as a highlight medium on top.

The benefit to using the gouache, though, I’ve seen, is that it generates very clear, strong, and pure mixes of color when one is using pigments which are high enough quality and in high enough concentration (and whose overtones are somewhat harmonious).  The difficulty lies in what to do with sometimes-obvious brushstrokes (I can play this up by not overmixing my colors), how to work with a media which gives very flat and consistent color, and how to avoid overworking an area to the point of the paint lifting off of the support.

What I’ve got now with my mandala is not past any point of no return (in fact it reminds me of how I almost gave up on one of my tomatillo drawings, which later turned out very nice); maybe I should keep working on it, just in an experimental manner, to see how far I can push the medium.  When I started making free marks on top of my …rather mathematical underdrawing, I could see the potential there for something which I hadn’t intended, but which might turn out to be worth the effort.

I also did experiment with gesso on top of a different sheet of this paper (the flawed one which I cut off the block before starting my mandala).  The gesso wasn’t worth it, in this case.  The major purpose of the gesso would have been to preserve an underdrawing; however, in practicality, it would have been a lot of work and would have smudged the graphite, anyway.  In addition, it provided a resist to the gouache, which meant that if I only sealed the lines and not anything else, it would show in the final painting!  (The solution to this would have been to seal twice; once over the lines, then another time over everything else; but I realized it would be too much work.)

I tried three variants of sealer:  Liquitex Basics white gesso, Liquitex Clear Acrylic gesso, and Liquitex Professional Matte (Glazing) Medium.  Of these three compounds, the Clear Acrylic gesso gave the least resistance when wet gouache was applied on top of a dry layer…so it would seem, anyway.  I can’t be certain of the exact viscosity of my mixture among all three trials…

Both the white gesso and the matte medium had a tendency to repel the paint, as is obvious from my test swatches; whereas the gouache soaked right in in the areas surrounding the treated areas.  The clear gesso, on the other hand, showed less of this tendency, but it also gave a texture that resulted in gas bubbles beneath my paintbrush, and thus a somewhat textured, or, “speckled,” tone, to the overlying gouache (I believe this was a blend of Holbein and Winsor & Newton paint).

What I ended up doing (to get back to the main narrative) was just erasing most of what I could, leaving a faint map of a drawing, then painting on top of this.  I did this because I didn’t want to get trapped in making outlines in fineliner and then painting on top of that style of ink mark — particularly because when coloring over lines is inevitable, do I want the viewer’s attention to be drawn to the lines?  And lines which show through in some places and are covered up, in others?

I can see it’s a relatively popular way to work, at least with ink and wash…but I struggle with being too tight in my drawings, anyway.  I don’t want to deliberately reinforce it.

And in other other news…my hair is getting on my nerves.  The rainy season has started, though, and one of the only good points to having hair as thick as I do is that it’s a fairly good insulator against the cold, and rain.  Seriously, though:  it’s, like, huge.  The benefit is that I can pull it back (I look kind of hot like this), and I don’t have to get it cut every few months.  The irritating point is that I can go to bed with it damp, and it is still damp in the morning, because it’s so thick that the air can’t penetrate.

I just realized that I have no idea how long it is, now, at all.  (The curls kind of disguise that aspect.)  Maybe a little past shoulder-length?  I’ve avoided cutting it because I don’t appreciate whiny comments from people I don’t care about, about “why don’t I have long hair,” like they should have an opinion and it should matter and I should care and I’m going to try and avoid mocking them, here.  It’s a sensitive topic — I’ve been singled out over my hair for my entire life — and it’s really angering.  But if it gets to the point of my ripping it out while combing it because I hate having to take care of it, again, and it’s gotten to the point of snarling, and making me want to scream and stab the mirror because ****it I’m not a ****ing doll, yes I’m getting it cut, because at that point I’m taking care of myself by cutting it off, as versus blending in to avoid sexual harassment.

I also want to get another (ear) piercing…which influences what I do with my hair (I’ll have to keep it very clean for at least 4-6 months, to avoid infection).  Because it’s cold, this makes an infection less likely to happen.

I just haven’t decided on which side to pierce– though I’m told getting a piercing on the right side only indicated one was gay if one was male and in the 1980’s.  😉  It’s still standard to get single piercings only on the left side, though, at least in the U.S.  This would be my third piercing…any more above that, and (legal) discrimination starts to kick in.  Though, technically, discrimination is fairly standard here anyway; I’d deal with it from being female, a racial/ethnic minority, not-straight, gender-variant, etc., but those are the big four, for me.

Which is, by the way, why I’m looking into the career path I am.