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!