Thursday, April 21, 2016

"I See You" Step by Step

29 x 22
Mixed Media
Earlier this month I posted a painting of a woman lying under a starry sky. Although I really like this painting--the idea, the feeling of being mesmerized by the night sky, I wanted to improve the design elements.

I visited with an art friend, Geoff McCormack, who is not only a great artist, but also a computer whiz. He put together a few images to help me figure out a less static figure and a way to make the painting less divided into half.

I took photos throughout the process of creating the second painting, so I can share my process with you.

Steps 1 and 2: First I determined the curve of the earth and blocked that edge off with tape. You can not see my drawing well in this photo, but the figure has one foot above the horizon line, so I have used masking fluid to protect that and all the stars.

Next came many layers of a blue mixture (transparent watercolors) applied with a sponge to get the depth of color I wanted. After those layers were done, I added one last layer applied with a mouth atomizer to make the blue as consistent as possible.

Step 3: After removing the tape and masking fluid from the stars, I outlined the figure with masking fluid to protect the edges from the texturing of the earth.

Step 4: I took a thin rice paper and applied it with white gesso to the earth area. I ripped up fairly small pieces and crumpled them as I applied them.

Step 5: While the rice paper/gesso was drying, I worked on the sky. I colored some of the stars and added the constellation Cassiopeia. By creating a figure in the sky the painting shows a deeper connection between the human and the universe.

I was perplexed about painting the constellation without a drawing (graphite doesn't show up on deep blue paint). It came to me that I could draw it with a white chalk pencil, then go over it with white ink.

The Milky Way was added by spraying gouache with a toothbrush.

Step 6: I started painting earth with transparent watercolors. The first layers of color really show off the roughness the gesso and rice paper can create. Of course, it was too much contrast with the sky, so I moved on to painting layers with acrylic paints to unify the texturing.
Step 7:  Because I am most comfortable painting with transparent watercolor, I moved back to my W/C palette to paint the figure. As that moved along, I starting thinking about what color to paint the nightgown. A color that was harmonious with the sky would connect her more to that, a gold would connect her more to the earth. Decision time!
Steps 8: Now on to the finishing touches. The sky figure got a second outline of a turquoise chalk, because the pure white ink did not have enough impact. The figure ended up with a split colored gown (thank you, Ruth Armitage). She is not stuck to the earth, nor is she floating up to the sky. She is connected to both. The earth's edges got darkened with the gowns lavender color, enhancing the curvilinear line and breaking up the shape a bit.

Is it done? I'm thinking of adding some more sprayed stars on the right of the sky, but I'll sit on that idea for awhile.

I See You
29" by 22"
Mixed Media


Ruth Armitage said...

I love it! Big improvement on the first rendition. Sticking with your idea has paid off!

Margaret Godfrey said...

Thanks, Ruth. Thanks for the color suggestions!