This week, I did another version of Sirens. I had wanted to color this in for a while but wasn’t sure how. I began with a carbon copy, which I didn’t take a picture of, but I think it was fairly close to Sirens II (below).
Sirens II (2010)
It turned out really well and I was waffling on painting it because since taking the above photo, Sirens II has somehow gotten splattered (2 to 3 pin drops) with water color… aaargh! It would’ve been nice to have a cleaner version, but then again, I was curious to see how this would turn out.
I began by darkening the thicker graphite lines with Chinese ink (applied with a brush), and then darkened the thinner lines with a fountain pen.
It turned out okay, but the difference between the thicker and thinner lines worked better in graphite, as one was in 9B and the other in HB, so the contrast was more obvious. I also didn’t like how many smudges there were (not very careful while reusing a towel for blotting excess ink), especially at the top where there are few lines and you’re supposed to be getting a sense of emptiness to contrast with what’s below.
The first sections I filled in were those which I knew I wanted to be the darkest. Starting with a diluted shade gave me some room for making mistakes, and indeed, I changed my mind a number of times on which sections would be darker than other sections. I needed to consider the overall balance of color, the path a given color takes the eye across the surface, and how each color path interacts with another. The more interactions, the more lively it is.
I was happy with the above version, but because I smudged it earlier, I decided to paint in the top section, which made me make two of the sections of the top-left figure the darkest shade; which is a good example of the overall process for coloring this in.
I know it’s weird that I comment on myself, like I’m observing myself in the third person, but hindsight is often better than foresight. Speaking of which, I can appreciate, in hindsight, my foresight to not let the smudges influence me in prematurely coloring in the top section.
In order to mask the smudges well enough, I had to give it a fairly dark wash, and going as dark as I did would’ve made me begin with an undiluted shade so that I would have had no room to make the mistakes I’d made.
Water color paper (Strathmore 400)