I've done very little painting in the last two years because of a shoulder injury and a forearm injury. Mostly I'll throw a little bit of color over a sketch, but often I'll just work in pen and then slap down a background, or use markers to make broad bands of outlandish color.
I've been fanatical about my physical therapy, but sometimes my behavior during the day is not the best, and there have been flair ups—most notably because I love the squeezy pens!
Left: Here's a detail around the lips.
Then at the beginning of February I decided to get the paints out again and do something on the new Fluid 100 watercolor paper. (This is the cold press I was working on. This post will not be a review of the paper, which is Fluid's 100 percent cotton paper available in sheets, pads, blocks, and packets—Since I have been away from painting for so long I need to work back into it on papers I'm familiar with and then make an assessment—so I'm not blaming the paper for my own rustiness!)
Left: a bit of forehead detail. When you click to enlarge this detail you'll be able to see something funky happening with the sizing on paper—the paint has granulated in the oddest way in one small area only, despite the entire wash area being laid in one go, one smooth movement. I said this wasn't going to be a review of the paper, but I wanted to show you this while I was writing about this image. I was working with 22 x 30 inch sheets that I cut down myself while wearing cotton gloves so it's not something I did to this paper (which also was brand new in the package, and only sitting here unopened a couple weeks.
Since I was still recovering from a bronchial infection I wasn't able to go to life drawing so I used some old photos. I put them up on the computer and then sat back and sketched. It's not ideal, but it's better than not sketching, and I figure if I do enough painting like this, and get Dick to pose for me a couple evenings, I'll get back into the painting groove and be all set to get back to life drawing.
Dick came to say good night and I was staying up late. I was pretty grumpy at that time because I'd just laid in a little bit of color that was pretty weak. Since I was tired I told myself "to just concentrate on getting some contrast in the eye area and then you can go to bed." I ended up messing around for 40 minutes and having a lot of fun. There are lots of things I'd like to adjust and smooth in this sketch, but there are also lots of bits I enjoy—just getting paint down on paper for one thing after such a long time; messing with the few colors I had out on my palette for another; some of the textures and value choices.
Left: I didn't stop to scan the pencil sketch but I did take a quick photo of it (I taped it to the bookshelf so it would hang flat). I thought some of you might enjoy seeing what I used for the base.
But most of all it was heaven to have a filbert (my brush of choice) in my hand again, dipping into water and paint and rinsing and thinking and dipping into paint—not as fast as I am accustomed, but building up a head of steam. When you come back to a medium you have to allow yourself a chance to build up steam. Realizing this is a way to keep the fun in your process. You can still use your critical eye to assess, but you can also thrive on even small bits of ease because you know they promise more.
And as for leaving a large portion of the hair unpainted? I'd done what I promised myself I would do. The next step in hair would have been more detail and I had run out of paint. It was time to go to bed.
I'll be doing more painting on this paper both in the studio, the zoo, and life drawing. I'll give the paper a full review after I've worked with it for a bit. I may even bind a book with it (I have enough whole sheets left).
If you're getting back into painting or another medium you've left for a long while, give yourself the luxury of staying up a little later and pushing things around. You get the added bonus of knowing exactly where you are and how to approach your next session.