When I first allowed myself to get back into painting in 2018, I've made series of watercolour portraits of strangers. Watercolour is easy to set up, to clean up, to take with me and - i can always blame the water if my brush strokes are messy.
I was inspired by Ali Cavanaugh's wonderful modern frescoes. Her portraits are as if lit up from within, with gentle swathes of translucent colour flowing through the highlights, and heavy layers of pigment settled in just the right areas of dark.
For Dom's portrait, I took a series of photos of him as we had a picnic at sunset in our local park. The profile photos I loved the most, as this is a profile shape I knew and love so much, and I liked how he was lit up by the sun, transposed by the dark tree behind him.
I wanted to include a gadget to indicate this period of time. He wears his AirPods regularly, and after months of teasing him about it, he'd actually made me a convert and now I find them less funny. He didn't actually wear them in this instant, so i made additional photos and added them in the initial sketch.
I worked on the profile gently, first establishing the areas of warm light facing the sun, and cold shadows on the back side of the head. I loved how this familiar face was forming in front of me, and by the time he was "there", I made the decision to include a strong background to bring him in closer and add some drama.
This is where I've probably went overboard and caused the pains that followed. As I first established the yellow light of the trees and some splashes of blue, I was adamant of not actually including any greens. I wanted this to be any sunny Summer day: at the park, at the beach, anywhere nondescript.
However, when I started putting in the darkest Payne Grey, I was layering it at areas without monitoring what how it evolved. When I noticed it had seeped into his perfect nose, I've yelled No, very loudly. Ah, the woes of watercolour!
I've lifted up the pigment as much as I could, but the damage was done: his nose was no longer translucent shape of Ali Cavanaugh's inspiration. Next i went even further and tried to scratch a bit more off with my scalpel. This is where i should start questioning the advice from You Tube advice. The paper gave a bit to much, and I had to scratch way more than I intended.
Adding more pigment in this area proceeded to get stuck on the scratched bumps, and I've proclaimed the work ruined. After letting it dry, tomorrow it looked a bit better as a whole. This is where I'm asking myself: Do I have time to redo it? No. Do I consider it good enough as a whole? Somewhat.
If I were to frame it, the scratch wouldn't be visible behind the glass. Yet I'd know it's there. The nose is the first thing my eyes go to. Perhaps this is exactly why I should keep it this way. To keep questioning whether one mistake overpowers the rest.