Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Put Down the Paintbrush...
On my computer I have a software program that lets me alter image and play with different versions of reality. When I apply filters or change colors or contrast I can always retrace my steps, and can go all the way back to the original. Save? I can decide to keep my work, or I can change my mind and go with the original version.
This half sheet watercolor is based on an old black and white photo from the 1920s. It's appealing, but the details are difficult too see, since the woman, my paternal great grandmother, was posing for a camera that had no flash. The darks all blend together, and the light colors are over exposed. Still, I thought it would be fun to try and paint her, to see how she looked in color. My first effort wasn't as successful as I had hoped it would be. I didn't like how the contrast of the dark indigo background and her light dress drew the eye there first, since I considered the triangle made by her head and elbows to be the center of interest. I was stymied, though, as to how I might change the situation.
I did something I had never done before; I basically begged for advice from an online art group. I received lots of good advice, most of which led me to want to darken the bottom half of the painting, and leave the center of interest pretty much alone. I had to get rid of some of that indigo paint though, and lifting it with a tissue was helping me slowly lose my mind. So I took drastic measures. I put the whole painting in the bath tub and I rubbed out lots of the background and chair, leaving her book and face alone. It was OK. I dulled down the background, softened the hard edges away from the center of interest, gave her face a little more color. But I did what I didn't want to do. I went one step too far with the diluted purple I was using to darken the periphery of the painting. Looking at the photos I took along the way, I see now that I added one too many layers. I like the middle version best, but there's no keyboard stroke to allow me to go back to a previous version.
Where was my good angel? the one who whispers "Put down the paintbrush. Step away from the table..."