What Makes A Painting Work Art Blog
This account is in praise of experimenting with art, and stumbling into success As an artist it's a way to stretch, learn, and have fun. If you are a collector you may find some very engaging pieces that developed when the artists took a leap outside their usual media and modes of creation.
"Dark Elephant" developed out of an experiment that just kept stretching. I've been doing a fair amount of brush painting on rice paper recently, and I've done a number of pieces on less traditional surfaces such as Bristol paper. I had a piece of handmade rough watercolor paper from India with leaves and stems embedded in it, and I decided to try painting an elephant in sumi-e ink on it.
I knew the paper was very absorbent, but where rice paper will give you blurs and blobs if you paint too slowly or with too heavy a hand, the ink simply registered as very dark on this paper. It was hard to get the range of grays that make ink painting so attractive. Hard! Actually there was no range of grays, although the rough surface did allow a scrumbling effect for lighter areas. Not surprisingly the leaf areas were more resistant to the ink than the pure paper. At that point I had no more than a not very interesting, too dark, elephant painting on a rather interesting paper.
Instead of writing it off as a learning experience, first I thought in terms of picking up more lights one the dark elephant which meant the piece was going to go mixed media. A white oil pastel lightened a few areas such as around the ear, on the tusk, and a forehead wrinkle. A bit of white charcoal picked up the brighter white at the front edge of the ear. Most of the other whites are in the ink scrumbled areas. Better, but not adequate to frame as it was.
I had an 8" by 10" watercolor canvas on which I'd done some experimenting for a large watercolor canvas commission, mostly in shades of red and blue and some transparent brown tones as I worked toward an antiqued effect that the client wanted. Adding greens and affixing the elephant to the surface and bringing more of the blues and browns in finally resulted in an interesting painting of a forest elephant. The gold frame works well with it, bringing out the gold tones in the natural leaves.
Go ahead and bumble on with a project fraught with uncertainties; it can be fun solving the problems that develop and you may get a result that delights you.