Monday, February 15, 2016

WIP - Green Sea Turtle

Second Layer of watercolor paint
I would like to share with you my process for a big (for me!) painting project I am undertaking.  It is a half sheet (15x22") watercolor painting of a green sea turtle, destined to hang in my studio.

I see green sea turtles as such a serene sea creature, and I love the warm tropical oceans that are their native habitat.  We've had the privilege of encountering them during our snorkeling and diving in the Hawaiian islands, Bahamas, and Caribbean.

My first step is to find photo references for painting.  I have a few photos of green sea turtles, but I've already made paintings from them so I went looking for something new.  Fortunately Steve Jurvetson offered a wonderful still from a movie he took in the Kona seas, and offered it under the Creative Commons license (CC by 2.0).  Thank you Steve!  One thing I really like about this photo is the playful and engaging pose of the sea turtle.

Final drawing using grid system
I needed to make a drawing on a separate sheet of paper that I could trace onto the watercolor paper.  I used the grid system to help me, drawing a 4x5 grid on two 11x14" pieces of sketch paper taped together to make it about 14x22" in size (the size of watercolor paper I will be working on).  I have an app on my Nexus 7 tablet to display photos with a grid overlaid on it.  I drew first in pencil, then inked in the final drawing.  This photo show the final drawing.

I used a light table to transfer the drawing onto a half sheet of Arches 140lb cold press watercolor paper, penciling lightly.

I had to buy another Gator board because I didn't have one large enough to accommodate a half sheet of watercolor paper.  The new one will also accommodate a full sheet should I ever feel so inclined.  I used the staple method to stretch the watercolor paper:  1) wet the paper thoroughly under a facet, 2) lay onto Gator board and use a staple gun (with 1/4" staples) to staple the painting onto the board.  I placed painter's blue tape over the staples, making sure that the paint area is larger the the inner window of my mat.

Once the paper dried it was stretched nice and taunt for painting.  My first layer was a basic under-painting, applied wet-into-wet, of a warm yellow and rose.  My aim it to let warm and rose tones eventually show through the successive layers of paint.

My second layer (photo at top) is meant to begin to map the shadow areas with ultramarine and rose, and to give the shell a green undertone through the layers I will be painting later.  The eyes are generally very dark, but I added Quinacridone Gold to the center of them to hopefully help them give them glow layer.  The gold is darkened by mixes of Violet and Quinacridone Violet.

Now that I have the two layers of under-painting, I plan to begin working on the local color!

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