Friday, October 13, 2017

Never Give Up - The Dodder

A lot has happened since I wrote that previous post about my attempts to paint the Dodder at Bushy Park.

Funny how it is that I have an attachment for that spot. Or maybe an obsession? We rarely go that way these days. We now tend to park on the other side of the park, off the Templeogue road. When we first got Timber, we used to park near the junction with the road that goes to Rathfarnham (and Terenure in the other direction), and cross that little bridge over the river. Every time, the light was different. But the sides of the path by the river could on occasion be very mucky. Not good when you have an enthusiastic puppy. Mucky paws, mucky car, mucky towels, mucky house... So that's why we ended up parking on the other side. But I kept going back to that photo - it was always a scene I wanted to paint.

Anyways, back to the painting - I went back and reworked my second attempt, which was so ugly I hadn't even put up a photo of it on the blog. It was even blockier than my first attempt.

When I despair about a painting, I often dig out old books that I think might help me tackle a particular problem, in this case one of the books on watercolour I got ages ago, called How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself, by Nita Engle. I remember when I tried the techniques described in the book at the time, the results were very disappointing. Just because I didn't have enough experience in order to grasp what was needed. I've learned a lot about watercolour since - how much water to use, how to use the right pigments so things don't turn to mud, how much paint to put on the brush. It makes a big difference. That's the way it is with any form of art, you're continuously learning, building your skills in a spiral (I got that from Liz Steel), with something new you've acquired every time you go around, which helps you "get" something that made no sense the previous time you travelled that path.

I'm not done yet, but now there are elements I love in it. So I know I'm climbing the right mountain at least.

The ugly duckling step one - and that was after lifting a lot of paint already.

Step two - masking highlights and flooding the paper with lots of water and pigment, and letting watercolour do its magic. Happy with the bottom half. I need to tackle those trees next.
Still need to figure out how to make the blob in the centre into a darker set of leaves. Nearly done, but this is the scary stage where I can still mess it all up! Will post the final picture when it's ready, but I'm procrastinating!

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