Sunday, January 22, 2012

Egg-stra, Egg-stra

I'm slowly progressing on this little still life of brown eggs. I really love the shape of eggs and the multiplicity of potential colors in all the shadows and highlights that gave each egg its form. It's a very complicated challenge when you really, really study an egg.

This is the first time I've attempted brown eggs in a watercolor, and I also muddled myself at the onset by thinking too much about technique. I've recently finished Mary Whyte's latest instructional book on figure and portrait painting, and I'm in awe of her methods, especially her bold use of wet-into-wet techniques early in the painting process. So I thought I'd try to emulate...but this was not the right time or subject.

I'm still too tentative and I don't have a good sense of the amount of water in the mix. Too much water, and you end up with a weak tint that, when dry, pushes the pigment to the edges. You can still see such a result with the unfinished egg in the upper right -- that rough edge is where all my pigment ended up after being pushed there by the excess water.

So, I rethought the process and resumed my slow steady glazes. They are applied thinly. Then I soften the edges, and then I hit the wet area with a hair dryer to keep the pigments in position. I mix another glaze and repeat...over and over. There might be 20 or layers in the largest egg, for instance. I lose count pretty quickly. But it's the method I'm used to, and it allows me to stay ahead of the medium.

I want to get bolder with wet-into-wet techniques, but I've got to practice more first.

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