Yesterday I had the chance to get started on the painting aspect of the Club K&J limited edition print. I went to the art supply store to get a watercolor block, which is a block of 20 sheets of watercolor paper bound together. As you may remember from art class in school, adding water to paper makes it buckle like a dress shirt in a gym bag, leading to lots of unwanted pools of pigment. In order to avoid this, you have two options: stretch the paper (which involves expanding it by submersing it in water and taping or stapling it to a board so that when it dries you have surface that stays relatively flat), or buying a watercolor block which does an admirable job of accomplishing the same thing without any of the effort. I’ll take the latter for $500, Alex. I bought the block and began the sketch. The part I was least looking forward to was drawing the Grand Canyon. I’ve never been a big fan of drawing or painting landscapes. It definitely required the most focus, but I knew that if I nailed the drawing, the painting would come easy. (Click the images for a closer view.)
With the drawing done, the next step was to start adding color. I work with acrylics, starting with very watered down washes, similar to watercolor. Then I build up layers and layers of color, with each layer getting thicker and more opaque. The multitude of thin layers is what gives my paintings such depth of color (I stole that technique from guys like Rembrandt and Vermeer). This is the part of the painting that always looks the most crappy. This is also the most scary part, because right out of the gate, I’m already doubtful about whether the painting will turn out the way I picture it in my head. I remember standing in awe at the Grand Canyon just months ago, marveling at the full palette of colors, mentally painting it in my mind. Little did I know how quickly I’d have the chance to do it for real.
Now things are starting to take shape (and getting frustrating). I start filling in the shadows with thin washes of blue, purple, and maroon. It finally starts to resemble something looking like the Grand Canyon and I’m beginning to get confident that I can pull this sucker off. Then I reach for the white and — doh! — it is completely dried out. Since I’ve done so much of my recent work digitally, it has been a LONG time since I’ve pulled out my paint box. I didn’t even think to check the status of the paint tubes. After further review, five of them are shot (including, you guessed it, Cerulean Blue — not CERULEAN BLUE!), and I’m at a stand still. Not only do I have my comfy clothes on and Christmas music pleasantly playing on the stereo, but I am taunted by the fact that I was just at the art supply store a few hours ago and walked right by the display of acrylic paints. Double doh!
Not one to let my momentum get completely stalled, I hauled my sweatpants-clad self back into the cold air and on my way to the art supply store. A half hour later and I was back in the saddle painting my little heart out. More to come later! (Oh, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.)
Each and every Club K&J Member will receive a signed and matted limited edition print (a $35 value — unavailable anywhere else!) as part of their annual subscription. We’ll send out the prints right around Christmastime, so to make sure you get your print this year, sign up for Club K&J now!