Complex Means Planning

Complex Means Planning

I was immediately drawn to the challenge of creating a watercolour from one of Gill Merritt's wonderful shared safari images. Her Zebra looked the most interesting with all its complex shapes and the idea to challenge myself to not use masking fluid to save the white of the stripes was my focus so careful planning was needed.

My Process:

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After choosing an image from the Zebra collection I cropped in on a section to use for my painting.
It was a tricky drawing process and I used a variety of methods and eventually had a workable drawing to transfer to my choice of hi white 425gsm Saunders Waterford paper using a lightbox. I knew I would need to have a bit of an idea which stripes needed painting because it would be easy when referring to the reference image to lose your way so I marked the black stripes with a letter B. I also shaded the eyes are these too were easily lost once the painting started. . Now I am ready to paint.

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I chose just two colours for this painting, burnt sienna and french ultramarine blue. I quickly realised that using them from my usual palette wouldn't be the easiest way to go so I used a separate big well one so I could put out plenty of pigment.

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I started with the Zebra that had the most detail in the head showing and he was in a fairly good place if you really wanted to have a focal point though for me this was not a requirement for this complex puzzle of shapes. Using the two pigments mixed both on the palette and on the paper gave plenty of variety to the dark colour needed.

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I worked from right to left and at times did get some of my white and black stripes a little off as I was not as accurate with the drawing or marking "B" as I could have been but the beauty of the Zebra is no two are alike and their stripes are unique and so fatter, thinner, squiggly or straight - it doesn't matter. It took some hours to paint and that's even with the fact that half is unpainted paper!

To finish I dragged a damp brush across some of the white to mess it up a little. A very rewarding work as I met my challenge!

Complex Means Planning

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