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Monday, 15 February 2010

Illustration Project

(not much about the painting itself in this paragraph)
My chosen story was The Boyhood Deads of Fionn Mac Cumhaill, which im not certain is published :P But I think its part of a collection of tales....maybe. ANYWAY I know what happens in the story so thats enough for me.
The scene I chose to paint in the end is when Fionn is sent to kill Aillén mac Midgna the evil music playing goblin prick. Every year Aillén would go to Tara, play his harp, put all the men to sleep (coz what are the women guna do in fairness HAHA joking..) and then he would burn Tara to the ground.
My painting is supposed to show Fionn finding Aillén, floating above the burning village. Im not sure if he could float, or in fact if Fionn defeated Aillén before he had the chance to burn the place but it makes for a better picture.

First I did thumbnails, obviously the best way to start. You can work out composition, lighting, colors, poses to some extent and if it doesnt work you havent spent very long drawing it anyway so thats why I like to do them.
For this painting, I came to a decision fairly quickly. For general colors I chose the middle of the 7 color thumbnails, and everything else came with time.

Research is important, although by the time I got to the final look of my painting the only object here I used were the posts and the pot.

Lots of problems in my first run at it. First off Id advise anyone going to a watercolor painting with more than one wash, to learn as much as you can about the paper and its reactions. Unless you dont have a specific plan or look in mind, in that case just let the chemicals do their thing!
My biggest problem with this painting were those pesky white spots, where the sizing of the paper had fused with my watercolors but I didnt leave enough time for the bond to really set in, its complicated. I still dont really understand it I just know how to avoid it. But what kept happening was I would go over an area with color, and if I brushed over it again the paint would lift up, and after that nothing would go down there until it was dry, thus creating white spots, ARGH!
If that wasnt enough, I started back at it again using masking fluid to cover the light areas, and when I lifted it off it ripped the top layer of the paper off. It was one of those wacky boiling kettle moments where I turned all red and steam shot out my ears.

Despite that demoralising experience I picked up a new sheet right away and did a really really good drawing, I even added new things, better details, and improved poses. After that I decided Id try using B&W acrylics to paint the tones, hoping that later I wouldnt have to do as many passes of watercolor. Well unfortunately I still didnt know the reasons for those white spots. After 2 hours of drawing and an hour of blocking in the tones, I started with the colors and soon enough it was happening again, I think I just started to cry. I actually got so frustrated I got the acrylics out and started painting over it with them, there was more problems with that than the watercolors but I just wanted to mess up the painting, I was pissed off.

After that I decided I was rushing into things way too much, I thought I knew stuff about watercolors, but there is a HUGE difference between watercolor sketches and watercolor paintings with several layers. Even that orange I painted, there was gaps of several hours between each pass, and I took it very slow. But with this painting, I only had a few hours each evening and I have a deadline.
SO, for the next week or so I researched into all sorts of stuff, I only ever used handprint.com http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/water.html, the best watercolor guide EVER. Then I bought two new brushes and a whole bunch of new tube paints, warm and cool for each main color, except yellow, the earth tones, and B&W. After two days of twiddling my thumbs being afraid to touch my new fancy brushes to paint for all the stuff I learned about what youre NOT suppose to do with your brushes ( turns out I did near everything on the list) I finally prepped the next two paintings you see, just using yellow ochre, and I let them dry for two hours or so. I started experimenting on them and sure enough no white spots and the paint went down much easier. Alot of that is due to the techniques I learned about paints, in relation to how you should mix them, put them on the page, getting the right paint water balance and so on.

So here is where im at now. Lots more to do, it will be a whole lot darker when Im done, probably less yellow but im guna try not to just dull it down too. I could do this a million times and still not know everything but I think for the sake of the deadline im just going to try and finish this, and If I paint an area and realise shit I should have done something different, well Il just save it for the next painting.

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