Process of the rooftop-painting, and learning so many new things.

As the title suggests, this is about the process I went through with a painting.
My regular procedure is more or less to get an idea, sketch it down on a watercolor paper, and start painting.  This leaves me with a lot of ugly paintings and unfinished ideas.
And yes, it is stupid of me to not realize this until now: I should start putting a bit more work into my work.
As you might know, I am self taught, and reason to why I’m stupid number two is: Even the self taught learn from somewhere, but not me. I’ve been painting and painting, for my whole life, but I haven’t actually taught myself anything. I never understood that there’s a difference between practice and conscious learning. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I found out that there’s such a thing as youtube tutorials. Really. The thought never hit me that the internet can provide useful information….

iIt seems my actual learning has barely started yet. I’m quite disappointed in myself for not figuring this out years ago.
Anyways, one of the first things I learned was how much work other artists put into their paintings. Sketches, thumbnails, color tests….. It almost seems like most of the work is done before the actual painting is even started.
Obviously, I have got to try that.

So, here is an idea that I had a while ago, and I thought about the motive for a while. I’ve been struggling with architecture for a long time, but put a lot of practice into it, and my first thought was just to try out my newfound house-drawing-skills. Then it just happened to get a sad superhero and people in windows.

I started out by doing a little test. This piece is about 7 x 7 cm, and is practically what the whole thing would’ve looked like if I had followed my regular procedure.

I liked the houses in this one, but not the placing of them. I wanted more windows facing the viewer, so I made a little sketch, based on a house I drew a while ago.
Still not satisfied with this one, so I made another, that started out as a combination of the two, but turned out completely different.scan0158
Now, this one turned out pretty good. There were a worse pencil version of it at first that I didn’t document, but it’s basically the same, just with a lot of ink on it, and better details.
I took this sketch and traced it onto a watercolor paper.

I didn’t document the step by step process of the actual painting. But I did take one photo, just after I put the first layer of watercolor down.
A few things I did with this one that I almost never do (because of stupid) was making color tests during the process, and taping my paper down.  Also, it’s the first time I’ve tried stretching the paper. Something I didn’t know about until two weeks ago, but really wish I had. In case you’re as unaware as I was, you do it so that the paper won’t buckle when you put water on it, and it makes everything amazingly easy.
I didn’t think of having the smoke from the chimneys until right here. I started painting the sky from the top, and with half the page white, I realized that it’s the perfect way to make the little superhero show better.

And, well, after this it was just layer upon layer, until I thought it was finished. It turned out like this:
I am very happy I took all those extra steps, because it really is one of the best paintings I’ve made. Funny thing is, that it’s far from my favourite painting I ever made. I actually don’t like it that much at all, but only because of the motive. It is still clear that this one is of much higher quality than anything I’ve done before. And I know it’s not just me, because I’ve never received so much positive response for a painting as I have with this one.

Again, I really wish I had started doing this a long time ago. But better late than never.
I am so excited about next year, when I’ve learned even more and look back at this one and think it’s crap. Just like I do with the stuff I made a year ago today.

Now I’m off to keep learning something new.


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