Problem Solving Watercolors with an Xacto

On the Chair
Watercolor on Masa Paper
Approximate Size: 5.25 x 7.5″

This pose offered some technical challenges. Having the chair in front of the figure makes the painting more interesting spatially. The negative space elements of the chair with the figurative elements behind and further away make it more convincing. I have used that device in other forms with other subjects to great effect. I have landscape paintings with objects which help deepen the space by having the viewer negotiate the foreground objects. I could have placed fences or, as in this instance, chairs or tree trunks or grasses. I am fascinated by the idea of looking through places to see other information behind those places. It presents technical challenges but the metaphor of digging deeper to find what is underlying is a compelling one.

Painting without penciling makes the execution more problematic. How does one begin? Does one begin with the model, or does one begin with the chair, does one work both up together?  I chose working both up together. I had difficulties with the straightforward depiction of his head and shoulders and little time for corrections. I was very satisfied with this portion of the painting so, I decided to crop it and just leave out what had given so many problems. I might have been able to make some corrections but, I had to accept the limitations of time.

I rarely take the Xacto knife route to problem solving. I did more cropping in my younger days while still building skills but, now, I find that to be a lazy way out of difficulties. I also don’t like work that is vignetted. That is, fading the painting away into white space around the main subject. It’s another lazy way of ‘finishing’.  I find that beginners do this. They don’t know how to resolve the entire space so they finish by, essentially, not finishing. It is a bad habit that doesn’t let one grow as an artist. I think one should work to the edges of the field to make the entire space resolved.  I  always try to finish by working to the edges of the field. I’m not successful every time but in making the attempt I will be in subsequent work. It’s good practice for some excellence to come.



December 11, 2016