7 Steps of Final Editing of Cropped Watercolor “Pour” Painting.

Completed Painting
Cropped “Pour Start” Needing Finishing

“Covered Bridge” 11×14″. 

The completed painting on left is from the “beginning Pour Start” on right.
The pour start is a cropped section of the large pour in the previous post. Color differences are hard to match as the lighting changed in my artroom while I did this (ie the sun went down!) I don’t have the most sophisticated camera, but you will be able to see the changes I made to produce this painting. There are 7 steps, each one has a little more work done to it-which is described in the narrative.

Firstly, I looked at the cropped “pour start” from all sides….to see if anything suggested itself to me. The dark shape, top left, looked like a roof, so I developed it further. See Edit 1.
I glanced at my reference photos of covered bridges-more for inspiration. But having a photo close by may help with perspective and value patterns.

Edit 1

Edit 1. To Bring out the Bridge, I taped off a square under the roof using blue Painter’s tape from Home Depot (See edit 2 for tape in place), and wet the area inside with water, let sit a few seconds, then gently tickled/scrubbed the surface with and old soft toothbrush using even pressure and in little circles. I blotted the lifted paint quickly with paper towels. Rinsed brush and repeated until as much color could be removed without destroying the paper. In Edit 1, see that it is not all the way back to white paper. Even non-staining pigments (as used here, Burnt sienna and Ultramarine blue) leave some residual pigment behind. (Note: This “pour” had been done on hot-pressed 140lb Fabriano Uno watercolor paper, and lifting from this smoother surface is always more difficult).

Edit 2

Edit 2. After drying, to give the bridge 3-dimensions, I taped the side parallelogram with blue Painter’s tape and while still dry, lined up the edge of a plastic ruler and lifted parallel lines using a damp old small bristle brush (or “level Lifter” from Cheap Joe’s) to represent the wooden planks of the bridge. I blotted in between each “plank” lift and made them closer together as I went back into the background of the picture-so perspective looked somewhat realistic. Click on Edit 2 to see in detail.

Edit 3

Edit 3.  Blue tape has been removed, and this area dried with a hairdryer. To create the inside of the covered bridge another “pour” was required.

Edit 4

Edit 4. (sorry it’s blurred), I taped off a smaller square inside the covered bridge, loaded it with juicy dark watercolors and laid cling film over it while still wet. I arranged the creases in the cling film to emulate the wood structure inside the bridge. While this was drying, I added 3 strips of plastic- in the shape of a fence post (lollipop sticks would have also worked) and I used some threads from an old cheese cloth, draped between the “posts” to represent barbed wire, horizontal slats or chain in between the fence posts. (bottom right). Using an eyedropper, I added juicy dark watercolor to the dry cheese cloth threads -which absorbed it immediately. I added more paint until the threads were saturated. (Ultramarine blue works well as it granulates). The “posts” were lifted up and paint put underneath. Everything was left until it dried naturally, but a hairdryer on low could work to expedite drying. (Dry from the underside).

Edit 5

Edit 5. Removed all the cling film, plastic and cheesecloth threads and then started to develop the background “trees” from the dark marks at the top of the painting.

Edit 6

 Edit 6. Lifted out the tree trunk on left of bridge. I made it lighter so I could add brighter colors. Decided where my light source was going to be. (Left side, early morning sun)

 Final Edit 7

Final edits included, finished tree trunk on left of bridge, lifted out (cleaned up) 45degree braces on corners of bridge opening, lightened the sky (also by lifting), defined the treeline in the background, added darks at the base of the bridge on right side, darkened foreground and added splatter for texture, added middle-ground mid-tones, and finally lifted a few “beams” inside the covered bridge. Extended fence to the covered bridge right side, added hint of fence at other end of bridge! And called it done!

Usually I put the painting aside for a while, then come back to it with “fresh eyes” to see if it needs a final tweek.
I will try this process for a “non-objective” or completely abstract painting (with no recognizable objects in the image) from a “pour start”. And post as soon as I can!
Thanks for reading! Happy painting!

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