I spent the majority of yesterday in my studio (woo-hoo!), and other than a couple breaks to work on homework for the Adobe Illustrator class I’m taking, my whole day was devoted to creating. The result (reason?) is this new painted called Hummer Suit. It’s (h)12 x (w)9 inches, ink, watercolor and gouache on paper.
If you’ve checked out the website or my Instagram you know this is part of a series I call Collage Creatures that started when I participated in the 2020 100 Day Project. (See my last post about the 2019 one…) This particular piece began like this:
as a collage in a 6 x 6 inch handmade book. I found images from fashion magazines (Town and Country proved to be a great source!) and birding publications (Bird & Bloom), and Ranger Rick (hey, my kid was getting rid of them!)
I’m still not 100% sure why these images intrigue me- I like the subtle humor, and definitely find the oddness pleasing, but I also really liked the process of finding and putting images together. The titles of the finished paintings come from the personalities the creatures seem to have (or sometimes, like Hummer Suit, the combinations of birds and clothing.)
I start by sketching:
While the drawing tends to follow the collage fairly accurately, I do like to play with pattern and color in the finished painting.
Next, I ink the outlines. I use a Lamy Safari pen with a medium nib and Platinum Carbon Ink.
I always scan the ink drawings and save them. Who knows, maybe a coloring book some day?
Next, I start adding larger washes of color with diluted watercolors. These paintings have many layers!
You can also see I started with a patterned background with a very bright color. That gorgeous yellow is called Egg Yolk Yellow and is made by Case for Making in San Francisco. I adore the color and texture of their paint and need to order more!
Then it’s just paint, paint, paint! I listen to podcasts while I work- it drowns out the dog toenail clicking, kid thumbing, radio noises from upstairs (my studio is in our walk-in basement, and while it’s lovely and cool, it’s also right beneath the uncarpeted living room.) Right now I’m obsessed with the true crime podcast, Morbid- those gals are hilarious and the stories are spine-chilling! I also love Danielle Krysa’s Art for Your Ear, and Stuff You Should Know.
Here it is, the first time I thought it might be done. I wasn’t really loving the bright background with the leaf shapes (though I hate to cover up that gorgeous yellow!) Luckily for me, I was chatting with my amazing friend, Dee, and I tried a few things as we talked.
Maybe covering up some of the background to make it more uniform? I added a deep yellow from Peerless Watercolors over the whole thing. Still nope!
Ah, what to do!? Gesso would have covered it up, but I’m not a huge fan of mixing watercolor texture with plastic-y acrylic. So, I tried white gouache in one corner (figured I could dab it off if it was a huge mistake…)
That’s something…By playing with the amount of water in the gouache, I ended up with fairly good coverage on the background. I actually kind of liked how the white gouache picked up some of the yellow-orange watercolor. I went back in with some Egg Yolk Yellow to add a few pops of brightness. I love it!
The last step was re-inking the border and some edge details on the figure that had been inadvertently covered up with the background. Add my signature and the date and it’s done! (This image is cropped a bit.) I actually really like the leaf shapes peeking through! As Bob Ross said, “Happy accidents!”
The very last part of any painting I think I’ll
keep (oh hell, I keep them all, but only some are shared) is to scan/photograph it, and add it to my website. I scan at very high resolution so I can make prints.
Thanks for checking out a bit of my painting process. Happy Friday!