Fixing mistakes as I go along! Mermaid Painting Process

Okay, this was a really enjoyable commission I did at the end of last year.  I know it’s not always possible, but it’s great when a client gives you free range to do what you want.  Even more so when you can trust they aren’t going to ask you to change the final thing!

The client was after a painting somewhat along the lines of this Alphonse Mucha style Lucy the Octopus strip…
2015-06-03-150… but it needed to be an A2 size picture in watercolour and ink rather than ink and then Photoshop colour of the Lucy strip.

I didn’t have too long to get the painting done, due to other commitments, so just dived in with some quick ideas in my sketchbook…
Mermaid-Blog-01-Idea Mermaid-Blog-02-Rough-PlanNext I was on to the pencils…Mermaid-Blog-03-Pencils Mermaid-Blog-04-Pencils Mermaid-Blog-05-Pencils Mermaid-Blog-06-PencilsThen inking with a brush…Mermaid-Blog-08-Inks Mermaid-Blog-09-Inks Mermaid-Blog-10-Inks Mermaid-Blog-11-InksThen I got out the old sharpie and marked out frame borders on my drawing board. Easy as… OH €£@*!  I’VE DRAWN A LINE RIGHT THROUGH THE MERMAID’S HAIR!!!!
This is a DISASTER!  I can’t click undo like on Photoshop, and I can’t tippex over it as that will mess up the watercolour when I lay that down!  AAARRRRGGGGHHH!Mermaid-Blog-12-mistakeFortunately, I’ve done the painting on nice thick watercolour paper, which means with a stanley knife I can scrape off the top layer of paper … Mermaid-Blog-13-mistake… and get rid of the black line!
It certainly leaves a dent but hopefully, by the time I add watercolour no one will notice!
Mermaid-Blog-14-mistake Mermaid-Blog-15-InksSo back to the inking, mainly with a brush but also with a bit of drawing pen…Mermaid-Blog-16-Inks Mermaid-Blog-17-Inks Mermaid-Blog-18-Inks Mermaid-Blog-19-Inks Mermaid-Blog-20-Inks Mermaid-Blog-21-Inks Mermaid-Blog-22-InksTime to erase the pencils… Mermaid-Blog-23-eraseAdd a quick plaster to my finger which has a blister from so much inking… Mermaid-Blog-24-blisterA few final details with a fine pen…Mermaid-Blog-25-Finished-InksThen I lay down the watercolours…Mermaid-Blog-26-watercolourI’m using some new liquid watercolours, and everything’s going fine.  Right?Mermaid-Blog-27-watercolourAll going swimmingly (no pun intended)… Yep.  No problems here!Mermaid-Blog-28-a-watercolourOH €£@*!  Who am I kidding?  I’ve done the blue borders way too dark! 
It’s a general rule of thumb with watercolour to build up the lighter tones first, then work up in layers to the stronger richer tones, BUT I’VE LEFT MYSELF WITH NOWHERE TO GO!
Mermaid-Blog-28-things-go-wrongDrastic action is required!
I take an army of wet Q-tips and try to remove the blue…Mermaid-Blog-29-things-go-wrongIt barely makes a difference… Mermaid-Blog-30-things-go-wrongI carry on adding other colours in denial.Mermaid-Blog-31-things-go-wrong Mermaid-Blog-32-things-go-wrong Mermaid-Blog-33-things-go-wrongBut in the end, I get out the gouache paint!  Unlike the translucent watercolours, gouache is opaque so I can go over the blue frames with a paler greyer blue tone.
It takes a couple of hours but worth it to save the painting!  The eye is now drawn away from the frame to the more important stuff in the picture!
HOORAY!  JOB DONE!  Mermaid-Blog-34-things-go-wrong Mermaid-Blog-35-things-go-wrong Mermaid-Blog-36-watercolour Mermaid-Blog-37-watercolour Mermaid-Blog-38-watercolourNow I try a new trick!  Using masking tape I make little star shapes to mask the next layer of watercolour.Mermaid-Blog-39-masking-tape-trickAfter it’s dry, I carefully peel off the tape to reveal lovely little stars below.  It works pretty well…Mermaid-Blog-40-masking-tape-trickBut OH €£@*!  The tape has ripped some of the painting.  PROBLEM NUMBER THREE! Mermaid-Blog-41-masking-tape-trickBut a quick touch up with drawing pen and watercolour and all is well! Mermaid-Blog-42-masking-tape-trickAll done, and the client will never know all the issues I had attempting to bring this thing to life (unless I write them all out in a blog).Mermaid-Blog-44-Finish

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