Thursday, May 19, 2011

Portrait Marathon: Nikki off to a rocky start!

Ah, poor Licky Nikki!  She doesn't deserve to be handled like this!  It's been a frustrating start to what should be a really fun painting of an adorable gal, but I've made a series of rookie technical errors that have set me back repeatedly.  Sheesh!

Let's start from the beginning.  Here's the reference photo.  Sweet white face, ears pointing in opposite directions, alert gaze ... Great, right?  Yes!  I'm looking forward to this!

So, I work up a drawing, check with her owner Lisa to see if I can remove her collar and pink coat, get the go-ahead and some additional reference photos for her throat and shoulders, and it's off to the races.  I transfer the drawing to the canvas.  I tighten and clean it up (transferring is always a bit vague and messy), get it the way I want it, and try my new trick of washing over it with gesso to fix the drawing.  Ack.  First it was too thick, which obscured the drawing, so I tried to gently brush it thinner, and it just washed the drawing off!  *grumble*  Fine.  So, I waited for it to dry, and started over with a fresh transfer, clean and tighten.  Now what?  I had decided to try spraying it lightly with a workable fixative meant for pencil drawings.  Uh oh!  It left a sheen, and it turned out I was right to worry about the paint not adhering to the canvas.  I started my underpainting, and got a ways into it before the first bits of paint started rubbing off when painted over!  Gah!!

I really didn't want to wipe out what I'd done so far, so I figured, in for a penny, in for a pound!  I washed ever-so-lightly over every bit of the drawing with color mixed with medium, which is sticky stuff, hoping it would sort of glue everything back down once and for all.  It did lift the paint in a few spots while I did that, but it seemed to be holding.  Once that dried, I went one step further and hit it with a thin glaze of varnish.  Once THAT dried, I tested it to see if I could A. paint on top of the varnish, and B. it would keep things in place.  SUCCESS!  That's where I'm stopping for tonight, before anything else goes wrong.

While waiting for one or the other layer to dry, I went over to WetCanvas (what a cool forum!!) to ask the question about how to fix a drawing before painting over it.  One person suggested going over the drawing with a thin coat of paint, basically re-drawing it, but with a brush, which I have done in the past.  Another person suggested hairspray!  He likes it, but ... I gotta wonder if it wouldn't have the same problems I had with the fixative.  Besides, being a non-girly girl, I don't have any!

The pets are clamoring for their dinner, and so's my own stomach, so that's it for now.

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