“Good” Paper: Portrait #8

Perhaps it doesn’t show, but I felt quite “off my feet” working on this 140 lb. Saunders Waterford Cold Press Paper.  I used to use this paper all the time for full-sheet paintings using watercolor opaquely, thick & gloppy.  I didn’t know how it would behave using the watercolor transparently.  Now I know.  But one mustn’t judge based purely on one try.  I need to give it a few more tries before I say whether or not I like it.  This first go on “good” watercolor paper, was frought with: too much water, too little pigment, too much pigment, too little water, etc.  But here’s the thing I found out I liked: this paper allowed me to work and rework, to scrub a little, and it withstood the treatment!  With cheaper papers you can forget about any reworking, a very little will sometimes yield a hole in the paper, or a permanent blotch that forever says, “Here’s where the chik messed up!”  This “good” paper doesn’t scream that out at you:)

I’ll be working with a few of the photos I took of my oldest daughter getting ready for prom back at the beginning of May, so you’re in for a few Prom Works:)  Her best friend came over to help out with the hours of pre-prom hair and make-up, so you might see a portrait of her as well.  The photo I worked from here did not have the background…I made that up.  She was indeed in front of her dresser mirror, but you couldn’t see anything really because of how close we were to it.  So I “created” the image in the mirror, and I think it holds together.

So, to be picky and analytical (after all, I want to learn from this, right?), I have to ask myself some questions:

1.  Is this painting decidedly “mostly dark values” or “mostly light values”?  Skip Lawrence drilled into his students to be decisive about things like this…don’t let  a painting be 50/50 of ANYTHING!  Plan your values, and have MOSTLY light with a little bit of dark, OR MOSTLY dark with a little bit of light.  Hmmm…when it takes me a while to come up with an answer, it usually means I have a wishy/washy 50/50 going on.

2.  Did I connect shapes of values?  I did NOT want the dark hair be isolated, so I tried connecting it with the dresser and mirror behind.  I’m not sure that they create a nice flow through the painting however.  Ideally, you want your shapes of light and dark to create a flow through the picture area…hmmm…perhaps I did.  Perhaps not.  Again… when you’re on the fence, it is at best a weak connection.

So what did I do that I like??  Yes, well, I do like this portrait overall:  love the colors, both in the hair and face.  Love the oozly background in the mirror which I think does not detract from the face.  Love the presence of so many colors in the face, but am aiming for something not quite so smooth as this.  The smoothness was one of the things this paper “forced” me to into. (I know that sounds weird, but there it is!)  I really want “pieces” of paint which is what the cheaper paper gives me.  I may need to try out some Hot Press papers, or other cold press papers to see if I get different effects with the watercolor.  Overall, I am pleased with this one, even though it did take a good bit of wrestling!

0 thoughts on ““Good” Paper: Portrait #8

  1. Cecelia says:

    I really like this! I’m having so much trouble getting a decent skin color. Everything seems too yellow. Your skin tone is great!
    I like to read your comments on your work. Personally, I prefer the 300# paper. But I’ve also had some good results with watercolors with a much cheaper, very smooth paper. Haven’t used any in a while so I can’t recall what I used. Happy painting!

  2. Joann Peterson says:

    Jennifer, As you know I have no artistic talent but I do know when something looks beautiful to me and this portrait looks soooo beautiful. You are so talented.

  3. Deborah says:

    I love your blog, I just can’t read it. The white on black is not easy on old eyes. The print is so small. I came here from [everydaymatters}.

    I’m using a laptop, with a big screen. I played with view options, but gave up. Your pictures are clear and bright.

  4. Timaree (freebird) says:

    I like your portrait again. That is really neat how you added the background and her hair has all those lovely colors in it. But I agree the face is too smooth in comparison to both her hair here and with the other portraits you’ve done. The colors aren’t bouncing off her face as they do in the others. (And if I am bugging you too much just let me know and I will shut up). The skin tone is really lovely but your paintings are all filled with colors bouncing around to make up the overall picture which is super and here you didn’t get that. I’d love to be able to come up with what you got here for skintone but I am not looking for the same looseness you are in your painting – I’m just trying to get something people would recognize.

  5. janice says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!#8 is my favorite to date. I can’t believe you ‘made up’ the reflection in the mirror! Brilliant, really. I know nothing about the dark or light values, the smoothness of the skin tone, the difference in the type of paper, but I do have opinions about what I see. And I LOVE this!

  6. Ann says:

    Just lovely! It will be interesting to follow your experiments with paper.
    ps – I’m with Deborah on reading white type on a dark background. The art show up wonderfully but the text messes with my eyes too. Sorry.

  7. Raena says:

    This is, in my opinion, a fabulous painting! It’s gorgeous! I have to thank you again, though, for the analysis. I learn so much by listening to you break it all down. Yesterday I had a bad painting day. Horrible in fact. But, I tried something new and I learned a lot about my materials in the process so it was not a wasted effort. What you’ve really got me thinking more about lately is the connecting of similar value shapes. I think today I will try to work on incorporating that into a painting. Hearing you say it repeatedly, I think the idea is seeping into the recesses of my brain. LOL

  8. Carrie Holst says:

    Love your paintings but I just can’t read this little tiny font. I have to copy and paste it into a document and then read it….. in a much larger bigger 50+ sized letters! That isn’t really swiping; I delete it later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *