Here is a shot showing the beginning of the second round of darks. It takes a lot of pigment to make watercolor this dark - many people are reluctant to use enough, and then make the added mistake of judging the value while the paint is wet. It always dries lighter.
I didn't use any black, but don't see what the big deal is against using black. I have it, and use it occasionally when I want pure black. I was in a workshop once where the artist announced during the demonstration that black is "not a color," or some such drivel, and should "never" be used in a watercolor. That kicked off my Black Period, and I arrived the first day of the workshop with the biggest tube of black paint I could buy; my goal was to use it up by the end of the week. The daily critique was rather tense. I remember I titled one piece "Ode To Black." That artist never liked me after that.
Still filling in spaces, and enriching the darks. Haven't gotten around to doing much with the baby's breath on the bottom. It would be easy to get carried away there, and I'm not sure what degree of detail will be needed. I don't want to end up with one of those paintings where one part has too much detail in contrast to the other parts. In this photo you'll see I'm leaving a few places white, just in case that looks good later. If not, I'll fill some in.
One area has kept me thinking since the beginning: the white space just left of center. That downward-slanting dark is the edge of a table, and one of the things that makes this composition dramatic. In the original photo, you can see a tile floor through that space, and stupidly, I drew it that way, figuring I would change it later. The pattern and color of the tile don't do anything for the picture, so I have to think of something else. Of course I gessoed over the pencil lines, so they are there to stay...but, they were pretty light. That's exactly the kind of thing that used to drive me nuts, and I could write a whole article about good paintings I destroyed because some minor thing didn't go right. (I'm a much nicer person now.)
There are about six bits of white paper that extend over to the large flower, and I want to do something that will lead the eye across. Discovered I screwed up and painted over a white near #5. Might have been one of those nights I was painting from the other side of the table - always dangerous. I could leave them all white, but I want these flowers existing in the real world. Definitely don't want to do anything busy. Hmmm, I think I'll just keep putting it off......
Coming down the home stretch. I added a really faint wash of rose madder to some edges of the light flowers. I also want sort of an aged look to this, so I added another wash of raw sienna, cadmium yellow, and alizarin crimson. I did this while the paper was really wet, and kept a spray bottle in one hand to disperse color, or rinse it away, if I didn't like it. Two-handed painting at its best!
I figured out what to do with those blank spaces: I changed the white voids into a breath of fresh air, with a hint of twilight. They stand out because they are painted differently from everything else - just a simple wash/glaze. They tie in with the blue on the right side of the painting. My instincts tell me that this dying rose, amidst a lot of dramatic darks, needs to be reaching out for that last gasp of life, light, and...glory.
The painting is pretty much done, but I needed to add that last wash to pull together some areas. I used a blue/purple, wet in wet. I'll admit that it takes some nerve (another word comes to mind) to start defacing a painting like this. In the photos, you can see how it looks when it goes on - not for the squeamish - but armed with the spray bottle and a clean Holiday Inn towel, it's not too dangerous.....while it's wet. Once dry, you've crossed the Rubicon. Anyway, those ghastly streaks eventually dissipate and seem to end up in the right places. I'll work on other paintings now, and stare at this for a while to see what adjustments it needs. No doubt I'll add some spatter with the toothbrush here and there, to smooth a few things out. I'll also spatter a little gesso in places to create a bit of added sparkle. Then, I'll tie it behind the car and drive it around the DC beltway for an afternoon to get that Old Master patina.
Everybody needs something to keep them busy while paint dries.
34" x 45" Watercolor, acrylic watercolor, gesso on paper.
By Nicholas Simmons, 2004.
This painting is dedicated to the memory of Valfred Thelin - artist, mentor, and friend.
By a departing light
We see acuter, quite,
Than by a wick that stays.
There's something in the flight
That clarifies the sight
And decks the rays.
It is very difficult to see the details of a large painting in a small photograph, so several close-ups follow.