A Dress on My Desk

Watercolor Dress on Desk
A Dress on My Desk, watercolor on paper 15 in. x 11 in., July 2017

I want to dive in, and veer away from the meticulous watercolors that I did in high school. I used to carefully sketch out my composition in pencil (using a ruler where appropriate) and then paint from discreet section to section to fill in the paper. But I have more experience now, and have learned professors’ own methods and advice for creating an image with more spontaneity, and perhaps more interest.

For this painting, I went right in with my watercolors. I didn’t use a ruler or any guides like that. I outlined the contours and filled in the components of the still-life with the undertone colors that I observed. I paid attention to dark vs. light areas and worked in a light, sheer layer, filling the whole paper with color. Diving in like this makes the starting process easier since I do not have to make such a perfect representation right away. I trust in myself to make the outcome of the painting well-developed and something I can be proud of.

Soon I got lost in the intricate patterns of the desk and the dress. I had fun carefully rendering the shapes, shadows, and colors. I like the contrast between the carved, static lines of the desk versus the more fluid, organic flowers in the heaped dress. For the last stretch in completing this painting, I loosened up, and applied color more quickly, and mixed colors directly on the page in some places. I completed the oil lamp and the shadows on the pink wall. I like the effect of both the detailed, defined desk and dress and the more loose style of the oil-lamp and wall. For a future watercolor, I want to keep to a looser style throughout the entire painting and see how it goes.

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