Work in Progress: Pelicans, Update 2
I’ve decided to do an underpainting once again and I’ll be doing it with watercolor, so that’s why I chose an appropriate paper such as Arches watercolor paper. I also wanted to see how well the pastel takes to the paper – details, number of layers, etc. I was concerned about leaving the sky reflections light to white in color and still be able to be loose with the watercolors, so I decided to paint out the sky reflections with masking fluid first. Then, I could put in the underpainting without having to paint around the sky reflections.
My first concern for the underpainting was to choose colors and an intensity that would agree with the value and color sketches I had prepared. I chose winsor Newton cobalt blue and terra verte for the underpainting colors. The picture area was wet down first and then the colors applied. I did a graded wash, keeping the top dark and grading to a lighter value toward the bottom. Because the underpainting would eventually be covered with pastel, I didn’t have to be particularly careful about the evenness of the graded wash, just that the values were close to what I decided in the preliminary stages. They would be eventually covered up to a great extent and any unevenness wouldn’t be evident.
After the watercolor was dry and I had removed the masking material from the painting, I started back over the water with pastels. Again, I tried to stick with values that corresponded with those I set out in the value sketches and the watercolor underpainting. The upper part (further in the distance) was to remain the darkest and the values would become lighter toward the bottom (or the foreground). Keeping to a more neutral, or more reserved color palette for the water, I used olive greens and blues. The colors used were Sennellier 291, 213, 214, 395, 210, 216, 110, 525, 346, 503 and 466. Also Pitt Pastel colors 101, 168, 151, 174 and Carb Othello 440 and 435. Some in this palette were lighter colors but all were used in a manner that left the overall feeling subdued.
After working my way down to the birds, I stepped back to assess the painting so far. The light sky reflections were too light, too bright. They were too distracting and I felt they would compete with the birds. So, I knocked them down a bit with blue. I also felt there were too many sky reflections, so I eliminated many of them and softened some edges. I also did some more blending, especially further away from the birds. I think that helped.
Still, I wasn’t sure about some of the darker reflections in the painting but I decided to wait until I had some of the birds recorded before I made more changes to the water.
Now it was time, I felt, to work on the birds for a while, to integrate them into the surrounding water. I’ll discuss that during the next session.