I dedicate this painting to my father, who passed away in 2009.
A very useful tool that I had never used before made its debut in the process of this painting. It makes masking fluid fathoms more convenient than the conventional kind found in capped bottles.
Please note that colour names are based on what I was mainly using, which were Caran d’Ache’s water-soluble crayons. I use these in a similar fashion to watercolours, as in I take pigment from the crayons with a damp brush, and then bring it to paper, rather than applying a wash over dry-coloured areas.
Also used here were Windsor & Newton watercolour tubes, for the background washes.
Draft completed; 2H graphite on 18×24″ Arches hot press. At the time this was the largest figure I had ever worked on. It is in 2/3 scale. I used a flexible/curved ruler to draft the hair with clean precision.
First layer of light blue laid down for the skin tone.
Highlights in the eyes were first masked. Prussian blue and black were then used, and the dried mask stripped away, revealing crisp white dots.
After the first layer was protected with workable fixative, the deeper shadows are defined using blue and vandyke brown. The same goes for the puzzle pieces on her cheek. The eyebrows were finished with prussian blue and black. More black was used to give the eyes a sharper contrast.
The bottle of light blue fluid and the empty bottle next to it make up my Masquepen set. I used the supernib attachment for defining top-most layers of hair, as well as highlights in the eyes. It is a brilliant invention, making fast work of delicate spider-thin lines. There is no need for constant rinsing of tools during the masking process, as is prevalent in the use of traditional masking fluid. The nibs are cleaned with a special flossing pin, in conjunction with that empty bottle for flushing the nibs.
Began work on her hair, using prussian blue and black. Masquepen’s masking fluid dries to a latex film that is light turquoise in colour. This is also a good concept as it enables me to see better what I am doing. By comparison, traditional masking fluid dries almost clear, with but a hint of yellowing.
I hope this illustrates the usefulness of masking when using watercolours. With the top layers of hair protected, underlying layers of hair are painted with ease and convenience, with no disruption to the flow. When these bottom layers were finished, the mask was removed, revealing clean white strands to be worked upon.
Hair is finished. The painting is again protected with a layer of workable fixative.
The chrysanthemum was painted using light blue, with vandyke brown for the deepest darks. The centre of the flower is a blend of greens. Her skin was finished with a wash of ochre and crimson. Blue and vandyke brown were used for the puzzle piece. The dripping blood is a concoction of alizarin crimson, cadmium green, dioxazine purple, and black.
I typed out Kanji on the computer, and had them printed out in the size I wanted on the actual painting. The words mean “The flowers have withered”. The print-out was inserted in a projector, so the characters can be traced onto the painting. The trace was then cleaned up, and masked using Masquepen.
I made strands of swirling “lights” by dragging the Masquepen in semi-circles across the upper portion of the painting.
The background is a wash consisting of cadmium yellow and sap green. Dioxazine purple was “dripped” over the top right corner. I used the pouring method extensively.
The finished piece can be viewed here in the site’s gallery.