Almost every watercolor I paint has a sweet spot--an area that makes me breathe easier once I've completed it. Sometimes this is a section that "makes" the painting. Sometimes it's the hardest part, and if I'm satisfied with it I think, Well, if I can paint that, the rest of this will be no problem. And sometimes it's one of the painting's unsung heroes that nobody ever points out as being especially good, but it's one of the places I focus on.
I thought it might be fun to explore some of these. Readers who are familiar with my work: see if you can recall the painting from which I've taken each chunk! Here they are, in absolutely no particular order (click on the links to see the entire paintings and read more about them, and click on the images to see them a little bigger).
Apple Blossoms: This is the best leaf I've ever painted. I like how the shiny spring green on the top contrasts with the velvety khaki underside.
Glass Gems 3: The area under the red gem seemed molten, and I loved playing with that color range.
Planets and Foil: I like the way this marble seems to be grinning, and I'm especially happy with the window reflection near the top-right. I painted it with pink-yellow-orange, and it felt weird at the time, but I think it really works.
Mushrooms: Ugh! Those little purple fingery things were so hard!
Abandoned Knowledge: Most people focus on the apple, but I'm happiest with this vinyl seat. This was a one-shot, wet-into-wet situation. I really had to nail it. At a juried exhibition a couple of years ago, I was told that the judge pointed at this part and said, "Yep."
The Graduates: This little blue pot was tough. The colors shifted from cool to warm in a very smooth way that, like the vinyl seat, required wet-into-wet. Similar color problems are happening with the plant, too. This whole painting has a lot of individual still-life moments.
Dale's Super 400. The couch my uncle Dale is sitting on had a bunch of velvety pillows, and that's a tough texture to achieve with watercolor. Plus one of them was floral!
Married With Cats. This is Bun's happy pose, and I liked how her tabby pattern makes her blend in with the rug. Plus cute little belleh, sweet haunches.
Mabel. The Roger Ebert book is to the right of this section--I think I did a better job on these books than I did with his, but whatever, he loved it! I was thrilled to paint the magazine that was shoved in there backwards near the left side of this chunk. It featured a truck ad, I think.
Dr. Terry Sherer: I thought this was a cool intersection of patterns: his plaid tie, checked shirt, and the studs on his leather chair. The chair's arm features yet another softly shiny surface that required wet-into-wet.
Art Theater: This painting was very dark, so the bright areas really popped. These are just some orange/yellow lights on the left side of the street.
Ruby Liberty Dragonfly: I like this whole section, but I'm especially proud of the disco ball-looking glass earring. It was hard to draw, and I had to consider each segment individually in terms of color choices. I had the 15-minute version of Voodoo Chile by Jimi Hendrix on repeat as I painted it.
Emily and Cupcake: When my sister was little, I loved the way she looked when she slept, and a lot of that innocence is still there in this picture.
Last Meal in Italy: I painted this watercolor during a couple of snow days back when I was still teaching. I liked this white shell and the way it reflected the turqoise building nearby. Painting those tiny ridges was no joke!
Self-Portrait: I really need to scan this painting. What you see here is from a photograph, and in real life the titles, etc, are more precise. Anyway, this section was such a speed bump, and for a while there I completed one square inch per hour. But I loved the spines of these books, some with creatures and famous paintings and sculptures, some old and falling apart, and some instantly recognizable based on color alone. I painted this during my "I will never use masking fluid" phase, and I made myself paint around all of the white or light-colored words. That really slowed me down.
Treasure: This painting featured several orange glass beads that were incredibly tricky. The darker areas called for muted purple-orange-browns, and as with the earring from Ruby Liberty Dragonfly, the many diamond shapes had to be dealt with one at a time.
Sunflowers: When I see this part I instinctively squeeze my fingers together, mimicking it. I rarely work with this much yellow.
Wilting Parrot Tulip: The challenge here was to paint extremely bright colors in shadows. I toned them down a bit with some greens and browns, but they're still pretty blazing.
Hey, I enjoyed that! I have lots of other paintings I'd like to chunk-ify, so maybe this will turn into a series.
Imagekind update: as of right now (Sunday, May 5), it's still having problems, so in the meantime please visit my merchandise store for all your Cinco de Mayo/art-related needs. Thank you as always for your support!