The various watercolor anomalies that occurred in the underpainting show through the batik layer, and contribute greatly to the textural interest.
Besides the batik quality, notice also the dark edges of each "pane" create a sort of stained glass effect.
I was careful not to make a hard edge of darker color against the end of the fish tail. Since the tail is curving away from the viewer, I want that edge to be soft and diffused. I'll soften it more in later steps.
The close-ups reveal that I didn't always paint precisely to the edge of the leaves or the fish. This is to preserve any interesting edges that occurred in the previous steps. Leaving bits of white paper also provides contrast next to the edges, adding some glow. Of course, as they take on the color of subsequent washes, they don't remain pure white, but the brightness still comes through.
Saving those precious glimpses of white paper is a safety mechanism I often use (explained more fully in the Tarantella Demonstration. Anyone who has ever painted around objects knows what I'm talking about: as you add more glazes, and refine (or fix!) things, it's easy to start creeping into the subject. Wet in wet, it's even more likely to happen. As a result, the object shrinks, and shrinks, and shrinks..... Especially important on small paintings where millimeters can make a difference.
I then started on the upper half of the water sections. I changed the color slightly, and used a more diluted mixture of paint in the top right, so the underlying colors would show through more.
Let's go over the "batik" process one more time:
1. Paint over an existing layer (photo at right).
2. Using the hair dryer, get the section 50-75% dry.
3. Hold the painting up, and spray off whatever didn't dry.
Three easy steps!
With the batik treatment out of the way, it's time to concentrate on the main subject.
I deepened the color of the fish, wet in wet, letting the paint bleed into some of the white parts. The colors I used were quinacridone/nickel azo gold, quinacridone burnt orange, quinacridone red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, and raw sienna.
Next, I added a wash to tint some of the whites. This photo was taken before I used the spray bottle to disperse it.
When it was just how I wanted, I put it under a couple of lights to dry. A really delicate wash can be pushed around by the hair dryer.
Needed to soften the outline of the fish, so I painted a (crude!) blue stripe around it. Maybe you can make it out in this dreadful photo.
Enter spray bottle! Got that blue stripe moving around, and did a little tilting for direction.
When that got to looking right, I dried it under the lights. The paper buckled a bit, so I weighted it.
This is where the fish and the background begin to meld.