Monday, December 9, 2013

Creating Watercolor Stories: "The Audition"

My paintings always start with a story. It may be based on a mood, emotion, gesture, or observed interaction of a group. In this painting, I started with the image of the girl on the right, staring off wistfully (or so I imagined) into space. I envisioned her auditioning for a spot at a premier dance troupe and waiting nervously for her turn. (None of this was true, the dancer was actually just killing time in between sketching poses.)

I debated between using the same figure in three different poses, to show an elapse of time while she waited. In the end, I decided to change the figures to three different dancers and create a moment in time.

I started with a series of thumbnail sketches to determine how to group the dancers and what format to use (horizontal, vertical, or square).

I chose a sketch and developed it into a more detailed value sketch. A value sketch shows you where your light, medium, and dark values will be. In this case, I made the darkest values behind the dances, moving in a zigzag pattern. I left the lightest lights in the dancers dresses and overlapped the figures so that they would work together as one unit, instead of three separate shapes. Most of my medium values are in the background and floor.

Using a figure staring out of the painting is usually a design taboo, because the viewer's gaze often follows the gaze of the painting's subject. To counter this, I added a visual "bar" in front of the figure on the right to stop the eye, then added a bright color behind her to guide the eye to the next figure.

I worked on three separate color schemes using analagous color and a complement. I chose the Blue, Blue Violet and Violet (far right) with a complement of Yellow as my color scheme.

In the end, I spent as much time on the design than I did on the painting. By planning ahead, I was able to keep to my original story while avoiding design pitfalls that I may have encountered without the plans.

"The Audition", 30 x 24", watercolor

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