Wendy (here_be_dragons) wrote,

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Purple Sea-nettle

Purple Sea-nettle, originally uploaded by Here Be Dragons.

I did this for today's Illustration Friday challenge: "Primitive." Possibly not a really fair choice of subject, as I believe recent research indicates that cnidarians aren't actually all that primitive (at least not as primitive as was once thought) . . . but, I've been looking for an excuse to paint one, and this seemed like a good opportunity. :)

Done in watercolor; I used masking fluid on the jellyfish while painting the background wash.

Some additional thoughts behind the cut . . .

There are some things that make me happy about this, and some things that don't. I'll start with the "don'ts:"

~ I don't really like the way the background wash looks. I was hoping for it to be more uniform, but I couldn't get that to happen. I think I didn't use enough water, for one thing, and I also got myself into trouble by not mixing enough of the blue paint. Running out part way through meant I had to do some dodgy things to get the entire background covered at all. :D So, that was a learning experience for me.

~ This was the first time I used masking fluid (which is sort of like rubber cement that you paint over anything you want to protect from paint; I used it on the entire jellyfish while I did the background wash; then I removed the masking fluid and finished painting the jellyfish). In some ways, it worked fantastically well. It certainly did the job of protecting the parts of the paper I didn't want covered by the wash. But on the long tentacles, I got into trouble when I had to go back and add blue to the parts that had been masked. I'm not sure what would have been a better way to do it, though.

~ It didn't really turn out looking the way I wanted it to look. I'm still stuck on wanting things to look as realistic as possible. (Which is one of the things I'm trying to "let go" in taking this watercolor class. I'd like to be able to develop a looser style than the sort of botanical illustration stuff I've been doing). I think that the wash was the big factor in me not being able to get everything as precise as I wanted it - after the masking fluid was removed, there were a lot of areas which needed to be sort of "patched."

Now, for the stuff that made me happy:

~ In spite of it not being exactly how I wanted it, I do think it turned out pretty. I like the colors, and I had fun painting it.

~ This was good practice for me in layering the color. I did three washes of the basic pink (very light, medium, and dark); the blue, and the darker red.

~ I did something very different (for me, at least) in painting this. I did not start with a pencil sketch. I just sat down with the watercolors and started to paint. I'm incredibly pleased with the way it turned out considering I hadn't drawn it out beforehand. Admittedly, jellyfish are nice subjects for this sort of thing - the proportions are easy and extremely fluid. Still, I like the overall composition, and I did that on the fly. It was somewhat liberating to do it that way. (I did some pen and ink sketches that way a few days ago, and they turned out all right, too).

~ I had fun playing with the masking fluid. I think I'll definitely find uses for it in the future.

So, on the whole, I think this was a successful project. I'll probably do another one, with no blue background, and on hot press paper, so I can try and do the sort of detailed illustration I was aiming for this time. But for now, I like it. Plus, jellyfish are just awesome. Hard to go wrong with that subject matter. :)

Tags: artwork, illustration friday

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