Wednesday, April 30, 2014

"time traveler" complete, process documented

Last night I put the final touches on what I now call the "Time Traveler"piece. Unfortunately, the light in the final shots is not true to the original and it was too early this morning before I had to leave for work to get a good natural light photo. The piece will be for sale and exhibited for a little over a month at the Round Hill Arts Center at the Gateway Gallery, right off of Rt. 7 west, beginning this Friday, with a reception on Saturday, May 3rd from 3-5pm. It's all part of the center's third annual Mother/Earth exhibit. It's a great place to spend a Saturday, with lots of local art, a winery, food, music and some great surrounding nature. The weekend is supposed to be a beauty too, finally after all this intensely wet weather we've been having out this way.

Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to document some of the process of this watercolor piece since it was the first time I formally painted with watercolor in years. Plus, it was the first time I used my Gold Class Mission watercolors I got last Christmas. So, the pressure was on, but I felt up to the challenge. The initial drawing part wasn't too difficult, and I started by basing the giant tortoise image off a photo I took a while back of one at the Leesburg Animal Park. The actual visual concept was still a bit foggy in my mind when I began, but much of the time I work with a vague idea for something then see where things lead me.  I ended up settling with an image of this giant tortoise as an ancient being who has stood the test if time, as other animal species have come and gone, and as human progress rapidly spoiled her world. Believe it or not, there are actually three tortoises pictured in the image, as our main character is perched atop the shell of another. It's supposed to represent an endless cycle, and the small young one on the top of her shell seems to be breathing life into the tree, still sleeping but ready to be awakened in time for spring. The butterfly is a sort of messenger, as we sometimes see butterflies perched atop of turtles' snouts and heads and shells, more for practical, scientific purposes than mystical. With art, however, everything can hold some type of metaphoric symbolic status. That's what separates art from scientific illustration. I do like to keep some meaning open to the viewer, even to myself, in the end, however. 

Is the piece finished? For now I think it's as finished as I would like it to be, though it has potential for more. If it sells, then it will indeed be finished. If not, perhaps I'll do more with it, as well as get it scanned to make prints from, which I regret not being able to do due to lack of time. 

Finally, those watercolors - wow! These Gold Class Mission paints are advertised as "colors found in nature", which is certainly true. Plus, painting with them felt like getting into a very fast sports car and going from 0-60 in a couple of seconds. You only need to use a little bit at a time, and they layer nicely. I'm by no means a watercolorist, but I've worked with them long enough to have some understanding of how they operate. Highly recommended, though you'll spend more on them than most other brands, and for good reason.  As you can see, I'm going backwards in this post. Hopefully it'll give folks some insight as to how this piece evolved. I thoroughly enjoyed working on it but only wish I could have slowed down and put another week into it, rather than cramming it into a few days. The results were pretty encouraging though. 

Hope to see you at the show!