This painting has taken a loooong long while to decide it’s “finished”. Those that have been following my site for a while would be correct if they thought they’d seen snippets of this as far back as March.
When is a painting ever really finished? In my case usually 10 minutes before I’ve messed it up but at some point it’s gone OK and you just need to call time.
For this one I scanned it when I thought I’d finished and my friend’s comment whilst I was doing that was regarding the light shading around the face. It triggered me into thinking “yeah, I should really darken up this bit, add some more detail here, etc.” and before I knew it I was onto a mission of adding far more layers (more on that below) added another tattoo, sharpened up lines here and there for the details. The next time I went to scan it was about six weeks later !!
So… onto the process for this one. This is the largest painting I’ve done so far, it’s only A3 size which I have used several times before but only for drawings. I wanted to do a different version of Harley from the obvious choice of Margot Robbie’s interpretation. I may do that later on but at the moment there’s plenty of other paintings and drawings of that.
As usual I started off with a careful line drawing of the main shapes, measuring here and there when I wasn’t sure. It’s strange that when I started out the paper seemed enormous but feels quite normal now.
I then went on to starting with the paint (Winsor and Newton Cotman range) for which I used a combination of waterbrush, purely for the sake of familiarity from the little sketchbook paintings I do, and a couple of regular brushes. You’ll have to remember that I’m actually still relatively new to painting, using the proper brushes with a pot of water and a palette made me feel quite the professional – even though the results were quite the amateur 😀
One thing you may notice here is that the sections I’ve created in pencil are being filled in one at a time. On reflection, this indicates a bit of the inexperience as I’m approaching the painting more like a drawing. I realised this at the time but as I was using either the native colours or keeping plenty in reserve of a mixed colour then I wasn’t worried too much that it was in sections.
One thing I definitely wanted to try and do with this painting was something that I should be doing anyway with transparent watercolour – layering.
For some reason I have a tendency to try and mix up the colour I want and put down a single layer. Perhaps that’s more appropriate for acrylics or oils? I don’t know, watercolour is the only stuff I’ve played with so far.
As the paint progressed I was getting more adventurous at laying down larger swathes of transparent colour and then layering on a bit after – skin shadows mainly. I also played around a bit with lightening certain areas by damping and lifting off with a tissue. That worked generally OK but I found that certain colours like Alizarine Crimson go down and stay down, there are several factors with watercolours, staining being one of them. Whilst you can look up these factors on the manufacturer’s website for my purposes I’d prefer to learn by experience at this point.
As you can see, when the painting was a fair way along I was practising how I was going to paint the next bit (hair above) on scraps of paper along with taking copious notes and experimenting with different colours.
I’m guessing that one day these decisions will be more intuitive but I didn’t want to get this far along having spent around 40-50 hours on it only to throw away that effort with a silly mistake.
Here I’d done the hair and added a load more shading to the face. Still had the hair ties to do and as with the rest, I practised on a piece of scrap first. The practice pieces probably took me double the time of painting the actual hair ties on the real painting, in some way I feel like I’ve painted this several times over!!
There’s nothing particularly of note about this photo apart from those nice shadows spreading out across the paper. That was actually the rising sun, when I was adding to this regularly I’d be out of bed at 5am to “get some more done” before the real day started. It’s not quite the same in Winter, I doubt I’ll be so enthusiastic to jump out of bed then when it’s cold and dark.
And here’s the finished painting finally, I added a few highlights here and there for reflection on the buckles with white gouache but other than that it’s all W&N Cotman paint.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may spot my logo in the picture, I know a couple of my followers that actually look out for it and have emailed me when I’ve forgotten to include it. There’s two of them in there to look out for 😀