In case you haven't noticed, I really like painting with watercolors on the Golden crackle paste. There is something about the process and the final look that soothes my soul. However, at the moment, I am a little bored with maps. Although, I do plan on coming back to this style of topographical map that inspired this recently.
I have been wanting to try out some other themes lately, and my friend Andris had this photo of him in the desert at Burning Man that had caught my attention quite some time ago. I had been picturing it as a painting, but as an acrylic work. Then it finally dawned on me that it would make a great watercolor painting and that the crackle paste would really enhance the feel I was seeing in my head. I messaged him to get permission to use his photo, and Andris being the kind person he is, said of course.
I began to play around with the photo to get the effect I wanted. I don't have many photo manipulators on my computer, so I had to settle for the photo program that came with my MacBook. It happened to be enough. I played with several different settings and had finally came up with something I liked, But, then I thought, what would this look like if I mirrored it? So I did. And the seed was planted. The original painting that was in my head was changed...and for the better, in my opinion. It said so much more.
I tried to combine how I painted my maps with some more of a free technique that you can create with watercolors. It is not the easiest as the crackle paste does soak up the watercolor quickly. One of the final steps was to add the line work back in. I had images of the black dripping down. But, like I said about the crackle paste soaking up the watercolor, it did the same to the ink--no matter how much I watered it down. So, I had to try something else. I found a method of putting down water first to let the ink bleed some after laying it down. It turned out great, and I was happy with it. At one point, there was something missing, and one of my students helped me to figure that out. I added a little more color to one of the portraits as my final step. I am extremely pleased with the final outcome.
One thing I normally don't write about is the meaning behind the paintings. A great deal of my work focuses on texture and technique. They are not commentaries on some deep issue I am contemplating or larger issues in the world. But, this one is different. When I flipped the image, it began to echo something that had been happening in my life. As I hit midlife, I have found I have been looking inward at the many "selfs" I have or had--trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be. In the painting, it was if the portrait was looking at himself--just like me. One was coming together and one was blowing away. They are similar, but in many ways they are not. There is a balance between the two which gives me comfort when I look at the piece. Maybe you can see it too.