Monday, May 26, 2014

Wicked Women Paper Doll: Painting the Doll

Before I start the watercolor walk-through for today, I need to share a picture of my studio buddy!

My oldest son has been working on his writing on his whiteboard while I paint.  We're usually in the studio during nap time, so I don't often get a picture of my younger son.  I'll have to make more of an effort!

This is the first day of painting! You can tell it's the first day because everything is tidy and organized.  That only lasts a few minutes, trust me.  In this picture you can see my palette, water container with holes for standing up my brushes, Koi watercolor pans, Winsor & Newton watercolor pans, and a stack of drawings ready to paint.  Someday I'll share a studio tour.  I'm planning a studio make-over this summer, so it'll wait til then!

I find watercolors to be a temperamental medium.  I have a love-hate thing for them.  In this case, I used a very smooth paper and the paint went on in a way I wasn't accustomed to.  It didn't absorb into the paper well and sort of sat on top of it in an ink-like film.  For some of the images, this was awesome and for some... well, we'll go over my frustrations in another post.

At this stage, I've traced all of my template images onto my final paper.  I used a light pencil so the outlines are faint in this image. I took this pictures with my phone, so some pictures are better than others!   I like to keep my lines faint.  I discovered on this project that an Art Gum eraser will remove lines even after I painted over them, courtesy of my youngest son who grabbed a pencil and scribbled on my painting.

I like to paint in a specific order.  It seems to work for me!  With watercolors, sometimes the paint doesn't dry as quickly as I work.  I like to have multiple pages started so that I can go from one to another while paint dries.  I start by mixing up a large batch of the skin tone color and I paint the skin on all of the dolls at the same time.

I try to avoid painting areas that are right next to each other until they dry.  Sometimes colors will bleed into each other in ways that are beautiful and sometimes they bleed into each other and completely ruin a painting.  In this image, I painted the base of the doll.  The paint is sort of streaky and this is because of the slick smoothness of the paper.  I kind of like it and decided to embrace it!

While drawing the initial sketches, I knew I wanted the bodysuit and boots to be black.  Black is a tough color in any medium, but I find it particularly frustrating in watercolor.  Straight black from the tube or pan can be very flat.  I try to mix my own, but sometimes I cheat and add color to black.  That's what I did here and it doesn't show up as well as I would like.

I used to be a real purist about mixing paint colors.  I used a very limited palette for a long time, but then an art professor of mine taught us a whole class just about selecting colors for a palette and it totally changed my thinking.

Also, it's important to paint from lightest to darkest in watercolors.  Ideally, the paper is your white.  I'll come back to that point later...

After painting in the skin tones, blacks, and base, I went on to the hair.  This is another thing that I like to paint all at once, if all of the outfit pages have the same hair color as the doll base.  In this case, that's what I wanted.  Mix up a nice, large batch of color!  I can't stress that enough.  Always mix more than you think you'll use because mixing a perfect match is nearly impossible.

Next up is some shading.  I have this little trick I like to use: first, I use a thin color for the base color, then I let the paint dry up some so that the color is more concentrated, and then I take this concentrated (and, subsequently, darker) paint and paint in the shadows.  It's not a foolproof method, but it's pretty handy.

More shading.  In this image, I tried to darken the black and add some shadows.  Black is super frustrating!!

The three images above show the progression of the hair and face.  It took more than three steps, of course, but in order to photograph it, I need to stop painting and sometimes I forget!

The hair is painted in three tones, from lightest to darkest.  I find using three colors (light, medium, dark) is really all I need to shade and define form. I used a tiny brush to get all of the strands in.  Brushstroke is important.  I tried to follow the contours of my initial outlines.

The make-up was tricky.  I wanted heavy make-up to convey a sense of villainy and red lips with black eyeliner seemed key.  I also thought green eyes were more devilish too! (No offense to any green eyed folks out there - I love green eyes!)

After black, red is my least favorite color to work with and I have a whole rant about red coming up soon.

Here's the sort-of final doll.  I outlined the base, the hair, the boots, and the bodysuit.  I did not add the skin tone outlines.  I leave that until the very last for two reasons.  First, I want the color to be consistent so I outline all of the skin at the same time across all of my paintings.  Secondly, it forces be to take a second, more removed look at each painting to make sure I'm happy with them.  Learn how to look at your own work in a detached, critical way.  It's a real help!

A word about white... Some watercolor artists ardently refuse to use it.  I like a little white when it's helpful.  Here, I used white to give the boots & bodysuit a little shine.  I also added a tiny bit to the eyes & lips for the same reason.

And this is what my table looks like most of the time! I have an amazing lamp that my husband got me for Christmas.  I suggest you use the best lighting you can - it makes a difference.

Next up, I'll go through the entire painting process of a painting an outfit.  If I can figure out how, I may try to make that one a video lesson.  I've never tried that, so we'll see if it works or not!


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