Wednesday, February 16, 2011

30 Lessons Learned, #19: You Cannot Bend Watercolor to Your Will

Admittedly, I learned this lesson long before I started on this project. Watercolor is very unforgiving. You can't go back in and "noodle around" with it until it does what you want. Thus, many of the paintings for this book were done multiple times. Yes, this may point to shortcoming(s) on my part, but ever since I heard Jon Muth's editor talk about his multiple takes on paintings, I feel pretty darn good about doing as many attempts as it takes. :)

Following is a case study of one spread from thumbnail to finished painting. I begin with quick thumbnails and character sketches. My initial crow was too friendly, so you'll see he becomes more intimidating as time goes on. There are a few color studies: I was playing around with tone and value. Should the crow be darker than the background or vice versa? I was very excited when I came up with the orange legs/feet. I think they are the perfect complement to the cool darkness in the rest of the painting. I think there were 2 or 3 more interim paintings before I arrived at the final piece (they must have been sacrificed to the 4-year old who likes to show me what I should have done with my paintings).

  









8 comments:

Juan said...

Gorgeous!!! Fantastic work!!

Beth Anne Maresca said...

Wow! Just beautiful!

tera said...

I love them all (but then, crows are kind of my "thing"), how would you ever decide??

Jane said...

Gosh Bethanie that is so clever. I always admire how you talented artists bring your ideas to life.Just different shading adds a whole new dimension....fab!
Jane x

Jill Bergman said...

Your final crow is so, well... sinister! Thanks for showing these stages. It's neat to see the way your thoughts progress from one to the next. There are lots of beautiful backgrounds and skies in these paintings!

Bethanie Murguia said...

Thanks so much. Yes Jill, I was urged to make the crow a little less friendly since he's the bad guy in the story. I'll hold onto the friendlier crow sketch for another story. :)

Shirley said...

Super series of illustrations..thank you so much for sharing. I think many of them were working..(oh my, I would have a hard time figuring it all out). Really great to see the way you think here and what you moved from and to. Great post!

Kathy Jurek said...

It's fun to see another artist's process and struggles. I'm a huge fan of Jon Muth and have been in love with watercolor ever since I was introduced to Moonshadow in the 80s. It's niceto hear he doesn't always get it right the first time though I'd probably love whatever he did! Your finished crow looks very sinister. ;)