I want to share my progress on a watercolor of George Washington, it’s about 80% of the way there and this is what it looks like right now:
I need to add the flag above his head, and fix some issues with his dome.
But the big breakthrough for now is that I discovered the round brush and was able to move the paint around in such a way that it got more interesting.
At first when adding the blue background I used a one-inch flat brush, and on this paper (it’s the “wrong” kind, not 100% cotton and therefore not great for blending color) it produced a horrible-looking patchwork of strokes that were unintentional.
Even worse, if I went over the area too many times, previous layers of blue started to come off, back into the brush, and then got bunched up toward the end of the stroke. This created very light values in the midst of what was supposed to be dark values — very frustrating.
The round brush was a revelation and I finally feel as though I am painting with water color and not acrylic or oil.
As I painted around the rectangle that will become the flag, I realized that I needed to lighten the background against what will be the flag’s deep blue in its upper left corner. The blurring did just the trick, lightening the area in a gradual way and will allow me to come in hard with color on the next pass.
Also you can see on the left above that I had masked a larger 5-point star behind the flag but realized that it would be too distracting in the composition, and so I blurred those edges as well. I absolutely love the effect, particular as seen in the top spike, and intend to use this technique quite a bit in future paintings.
It reminds me of a painter / illustrator whom I greatly admired in the 1980s, Brad Holland. His backgrounds in particular are complex and haunting in a good way. Here is one of his works:
I realize that his paintings are probably done in oil and not watercolor, but that’s ok. I also realize that my painting skills are merely beginner-level, but a man can dream.
Getting back to the flag, I had done some practice nonsense on another sheet of paper and liked what I saw, once again by accident.
This quick little flag is what led me to want to put it above GW’s head, instead of the star that I had already masked.