Thursday, December 16, 2010

Working With Faulty Design

Below you see my first attempt, traced from our detailed pencil drawing. The butterfly's abdomen is too dark and wide even though its to proportion for this species. Almost at center, the ugly bray blob dominates the space. One way to circumvent this is by rendering the wings as dark or darker, then shading the abdomen in a way that makes it appear smaller than it really is, blending its contours into the wings. Adding an overall pattern or drybrush texture would make good use of the darker areas, like lace placed over a solid color fabric. Another solution might be washing out the darkest pigment until its a midrange tone and when the art is dry, touching up with opaque white or colored pencil. This particular paper, however, is delicate. Its a vintage, handmade sheet with no sizing, which allows pigment to soak right in without puddling. If the area is scrubbed, fibers unravel and the surface will be damaged beyond repair.

Kimberlee and I want this butterfly to be somewhat true to species, which means darkening the wings is not an option, nor is scrubbing the dark area to a lighter value. I opt for cutting my losses and start over with a modified drawing. I've redrawn the wings but modify the body, making it slender and adding curves. This is not anatomically or correct, but when finished, the art will appear believable to the eye. Look to the left of #1: the new butterfly is placed left of the first, blotched attempt for comparison. There's also an actual butterfly that I found in our driveway this summer (already dead) and an assortment of different wing diagrams, etchings and photos.

Painting #2, below, shows the new painting alongside the original pencil drawing. Since taking this photo Ive painted most of the wing area but its now so dark outside (snow is on the way!) that I wont be able to get a good shot. This is a good place to leave off, and the next entry will show the progress and talk about some of the challenges befor us. The colors are coming out BEAUTIFULLY and Ill talk about the brands and pigments selected, the paper choice, and other technical aspects that might interest those of you who share my fondness for watercolor.


1 comment:

  1. Looks wonderful! I am looking forward to more!