Well, I have not yet completed my Christmas mailbox piece as I used a supposedly workable fixative to touch up some areas that were already saturated with color. The fixative did not work and it seemed to split up the blacks, separated and fading the color so now I have to wait for a new fixative to come in so I can retouch and finish that piece. In the meantime, I’ve decided to do a piece on black Stonehenge. I really like working on black but it can be challenging in that the colors that you might normally use do not show up the way you’d think as the black changes the value and brightness of your colors. The trick to working with black is to apply white first to the areas that need the normal brightness of a specific color. For this piece I used a white tracing paper to transfer my drawing to the black, being careful not to press too hard but enough to get the image down. Then I reviewed my reference image to determine what areas would need the white underpainting. Obviously, any white or bright areas need it. In this case all the reds in direct light require it as well as any shadows or cast shadows that will be lighter in value than the black background. For the petals and and very light areas I want to be sure to get a good, even coverage before beginning with my reds or greens in this case. My white of choice is the Derwent Coloursoft White because it has a more chalky texture to it and applies with a fairly bright white result. Prismacolors, I find are too waxy for this since they will immediately limit the number of layers I can apply with the application of the wax. To achieve the nice white, it is also important to layer with a light to moderate touch – never pressing hard. Pressing hard to achieve a depth of color is always a bad thing to do because it will lay down too much color and again limit the amount of layering you can do. So this applies to black as well – don’t press hard to get complete black coverage but layer.
I decided to work on one petal or area at a time to show you the development of this piece. So I started with white, layering in sufficient coverage for my next layers on the stem on the lower left as well as the bud opening on the lower left. Since the bud is dark but still lighter than the background I only applied enough white to give it some heightened color. I then applied white to all the little stamens and the first three petals of the main flower. Using a combination of Prisma Black Raspberry and FC Deep Red, I filled in some of the shadow area of the big flower. For the brightest areas of the petals I use a combination of FC Pale Geranium Lake, Deep Scarlet Red and some Prisma Poppy Red on top. I will continue in this pattern for all the red areas working in the shadows and brightest areas accordingly by my reference image. I also added FC Cold Grey II and III for the highlight areas and some white for the brightest highlight spots.
For the green of the stem I used the white first making it very white and even along the brightest area and lightening my touch as I approached the shadow areas. I then applied a combo of Prisma Apple Green, Lime Peel and FC May Green. On top of that I gradually added some FC Dark Sepia creating the effect of some lines in the direction of the growth of the stem.
Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far: