I use transparent watercolors and liquid acrylics and sometimes combine them into mixed media works. When using watercolor alone, I do not use white and black paint. I do not set any boundaries on the tools used to apply and manipulate the paint. I have at time used credit cards, my fingers, string, plastic wrap and duct tape.
I usually paint from photographs. I use Photoshop to crop the photo until an interesting composition appears. Items are removed to simplify and sometimes elements from other photographs or memory are added. Often I switch to black and white to help discover the true shapes and shades.
One definite option is to crop the photo on the computer. I can also lighted or darken it.
A series of small thumbnail sketches are made to check the layout and decide on the dimensions. A value sketch (containing only the main shapes and no color) is made to find the best arrangement of areas of dark and light. This often is different and better than the photograph.
A small detailed sketch is made and finally a full size drawing. When that passes muster, it is copied to the watercolor surface using transfer paper or sketched by hand.
On a scratch paper, I tested out some color combinations. (I try to avoid using too many from the tube colors and stick with 5 or 6 which I can then mix to gain other shades.)
Even when I think I have a good design, I find that it helps to make a small e.g. 5 x 7 painting to test out colors and the design rather than making a large one to find out that it doesn’t work. When these turn out well, I will sell the studies too.
I paint flat – on the floor or on a table. Frequent breaks are taken to see what the paintings looks like from afar as well as to make sure the paint is dry from that session. I am often working on more than one painting and switch between them.
The colors I use may not be true to the photo – I want to capture what I saw and not what the photograph shows.
When a painting nears completion, I rotate it on its side or upside down to check the composition without regard of the subject matter. If a painting continues to look good over a few days, it is complete.
My abstractions usually start from sketches made from the imagination. When the lines and shapes form a pleasing whole, I am ready to turn it into a painting.
Check out this blog post for details on creation sequence for “On the Tracks”.