This portrait has 5 depictions of Remmy (two head studies and 3 full-body) on a river scene, with the center Remmy splashing joyfully through the water. For the river, I want green across the whole lower 2/3 of the painting. But not where the figures are.
The green color I want is muted, not bright. My paper is grey. So part of my strategy for how to construct the painting, is to do a green watercolor wash thinned a lot with water so it just tints the grey paper a little bit green. If I mix exactly the right shade of green watercolor, the river color will end up exactly right.
I’ll do it with a large watercolor brush sweeping across the paper from side to side. But I don’t want that green where the Remmy figures will be. “Doberman colors” work great with colored pencil on this beautiful grey Canson paper. If I tinted the paper green and then went with colored pencil over that, the Remmy figures would have a greenish cast to them. So I mask the figures off before I do the green wash.
I do that by cutting pieces of masking material, a translucent plastic film that is adhesive on one side. In this pic I’ve stuck pieces over the two lower Remmys. I cut around the outline of the left one with a very sharp x-acto knife, and lifted off the excess. The blade has to be extremely sharp — a brand new blade, never used — to cut through the masking film which is tough and takes a bit of pressure…but not cut into the paper beneath. It takes exactly the right touch.
I have cut out the masking material on both figures and the excess is balled up near the scissors. (Note in each pic I have the relevant Remmy on the monitor to check his outlines as I cut.)
I won’t mask off the upper two Remmys (head studies) because river-trees and rocks (done with colored pencil) will be behind those, not the grey-green water. I will fade the green wash below the upper-Remmys’ necks by swabbing plain water there as I work my green wash up to there, so it fades to totally transparent just below the upper Remmys’ chins.
Doing the watercolor wash. The layout I created in Photoshop is on the monitor to guide me. On that scrap of grey paper (near the monitor) I tested out how much to thin the green watercolor to get just the right shade of muted green on grey paper.
The masking film protects the two bottom figures, but I had to paint around the “Mona Lisa” Remmy (in the center) and the splashing water. The splash is too complex for me to cut masking film.
The wash is finished and painting materials cleaned up. Masking film is still on the two bottom figures.
The paint is thoroughly dry and masking film removed.
The paper buckled from being wet. Canson paper is not watercolor paper and is not made to take watercolor well. When the paper is not totally flat it’s hard for me to draw on it. So tonight I will wet the back of the the paper and press it under weights overnight to flatten it.