Sea Daydream: Process Part 3

pencil sketch on vellum by christine mitzuk
Larger sketch. Pencil on vellum.

Sea Daydream: Process Part 3

Last week I shared the evolution of the sketch for this piece in Process Part 2. Or start from the beginning and check out Process Part 1. This week we're moving on to the paint phase.

sea daydream watercolor value studies by christine mitzuk
Sea Daydream Value Studies.

I usually do some value studies for anything I make. This time I scanned the drawing and printed it 4-up on 8.5"x11" paper. Watercolors were my first love and I like their immediacy and ease of use so I decided to use them for the studies.

I also printed a copy of the 4-up sketch for some color studies. Following that whole infatuation with the media thing, I used watercolor for these too.




sea daydream watercolor color studies on paper by christine mitzuk
Watercolor color studies on letter size inkjet paper.

I was having fun. I fell in love with the luminosity of the studies. The transparency of watercolor give a great luminosity to the studies. Unfortunately, it made translating the color values from watercolor to the more opaque oil paint tricky.

Next time I'm going to try gouache value and color studies. I'll have my immediacy, and easy clean up that I like with watercolor (gouache being water soluble) and it'll be opaque. I'm hoping I'll have a closer representation of the final painting direction so will have an easier time translating it to oil paint. I'll also use a more permanent substrate than printer paper. That way if I have an awesome study, it'll be a mini painting for sale.

sea daydream early oil painting stage by christine mitzuk
An early stage in the oil painting. Here the sky and waves are light in value and the sand dollar is bleached.

The initial idea was to have the sky and hair meld, leaving the sky a lighter value. This wasn't working. The sky was too distracting. My trusty critique people agreed.

I needed to find a solution but was afraid to mess up the painting. Experimenting digitally was an option. I tried a little of that but was running into some odd roadblocks. Using paint was easier at that point.

sea daydream painting experiments and adjustments on acetate
Painting experiments on acetate. A chance to try it before I commit to changes.

Then I remembered something I learned in school: acetate. I taped a sheet of acetate over the painting and painted on that. What a great feeling to skate the paint around! And for some reason it was easier to think through the paint. I liked what came of my experimenting and moved forward with the darker sky and sea. (Note: I think the "acetate" is from Dura-lar. I believe it's .003". It might be the acetate alternative.)



oil painting of a woman holding a sand dollar and staring dreamily into the distance, perhaps she's a mermaid, by christine mitzuk
A personal piece, Sea Daydream.

I showed it to another artist buddy and he suggested that the sand dollar was difficult to see. It was the same color as her skin. My attempt at a sun bleached sand dollar wasn't reading well visually. So I went back to my reference of sand dollars and discovered that the live ones have lovely colors. Okay. Purple it is. Then I had to find other places to use the purple.

And magically it was done.

Okay not really. There was a lot of painting and refining shapes, values and edges in there too.

It took longer than I initially wanted but I'm glad I spent the time it took. It was incredibly valuable to work through the painting, all the composition issues, and I discovered some things I can apply to the next project.

If you're wondering, the painting is for sale. I also have limited edition prints available (printed on letter sized premium Epson paper). They aren't up in my shop yet so if you're interested, drop me a line.