So last week I posted about keeping underpaintings soft, and only using hard edges to pull out a few accents and highlights here and there. This time I’m going to talk about what happens if you get too soft and too dark.
That’s exactly what happened to the in-progress painting you saw a week ago. As I painted more and more layers of shadow, I realized that I hadn’t preserved my lights to the extent required in order to make the effect I wanted, that of evening light coming through just before being swallowed by an approaching storm.
Since you can only get darker in watercolor, and never lighter, I had no choice but to use gouache to salvage the train wreck of my painting. Gouache, also known as opaque watercolor, can be blended seamlessly with watercolor, but because of its opacity, can actually lighten the parts of the painting that you need it to.
Some purist refuse to use gouache, insisting on using only transparent watercolors and doing it right the first time. I usually agree, but I’m not going to give up on a painting because I’m too proud to use a different material. In my opinion, an artist has the intrinsic right to use any means necessary to make the best image possible; that’s the point of being an artist.
More on the religion of transparency to come.
Anyway, here are a few closeups of spots where I used gouache to a.) create the rocky texture of the road, and b.) pull out a few tree trunks.
P.S.: This painting was inspired by the words of Jesus at Matthew 7:13 – “'Go in through the narrow gate, because broad is the gate and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are finding it.'”