Before I put any paint on the paper, I go through my mental list of questions, which prepares me to paint with confidence once I'm ready to go.
- where do I want my viewer to focus in on? What's special about this scene? Some scenes have more than one area that draws your attention. As the artist, you get to choose what you'll paint about today. Tomorrow, maybe it'll be a new painting focusing on the other area of interest. This is often how my series are born.
- once you decide where to focus, you have to decide what techniques to use to accomplish the eye moving there
- even mundane concerns have to be addressed before starting: is my palette area big enough for the size of the puddles needed to paint this larger size painting? If not, what additional palettes or plates can I use? What size brushes should I start with? Are they clean from the last session? Nothing worse than putting down a streak of blue when you've planned to paint with yellow. Are my paints moist enough already, or do I need to add water or additional paint. You get it, I'm sure...all the routine things we have to check off before getting started.
Having gone through all that, my first wash is now down and I must let it thoroughly dry at this point (it's outside sitting on my porch table...hope the cats don't jump up there to explore). I check it like a proud mama ever few minutes to see how the colors have blended on the paper.
I usually use Arches 300# rough paper, but the one I used today (because I had it in inventory) is Arches 300# bright white, which to me is a smoother paper than the rough I'm used to painting on. The paint is reacting differently (but I'm able to predict results because I've used this paper in the past. Every painting session adds information to the glossary in your head for future events). I prefer Arches over another brand because it allows me to scrub out paint to a degree (depending on the stain value of the color), without marring the surface of the paper.
The colors went down brightly today, but are naturally drying paler. This is expected and wanted. When I paint, I always shoot for the illusion of aerial perspective. Paler colors will help me with that illusion as the painting progresses to darker layers, especially if left pale in the right places.
I also found that this paper stayed wet MUCH longer than the rough. It's as if the sizing is not as intense as on the rough, and it allows the water to penetrate quicker. Well, it's been long enough...time to go see what those colors look like now!