Some of my paintings go through many stages before they are complete. In this example I was trying for a certain result, initially wanting to mimic the look of marbling by painting it. This was not successful, even after painting the background dark. Some things about the painting I liked, but lacking good reference, the lower face and arm appeared awkward. If the anatomy isn’t working, the painting won’t work.
So, I marbled it this summer!
2/ AFTER MARBLING
Though the marbling created the transformation I was looking for, the painting still doesn’t quite sing for me.
3/ ADD DRAWING
Symbolizing rebirth and the power of regeneration in native cultures, the moth is an appropriate image to add. The large, colorful Madagascan Sunset Moths fly in the daytime and Malagasy people believe the souls of their dead ancestors take this form.
I drew the moths in positions of flight on tracing paper and then positioned and sketched them onto the painting with a white pencil.
4/ ADD WATERCOLOR GROUND
To achieve the pale transparent color of the moths, watercolor ground was first used to cover existing darks. Is an acrylic product that functions a bit like liquid paper after it dries. Daniel Smith and Golden both make versions of this product and I mix my own using white gesso and matte medium, then adding texture paste and sometimes fibre paste to give it absorbency.
5/ ADD COLORFUL PAINT
Here I’ve painted the color of the moths in watercolor.
Then over the watercolor I added acrylic interference paint. This adds a sheen that is similar to the way that a moth wing shines… while not actually pigmented, their curved scales create the colorful reflection of light.
I’ve also added subtle light and dark lines that partition the wings.
6/ DARKS ADDED
Nearly finished here, I am excited about the power of this painting. Most of the darks have been added using my watercolor black mix and the resulting contrast allows the color to radiate. I should mention that the painting was photographed in light with a yellow cast so the image has more “warmth” than the actual painting.
After adding the remainder of the darks and a few body details I’d like to blur some edges to increase the feeling of movement.
Learn about the process of marbling in my book, “The Art Of Paint Marbling”, published by Walter Foster