Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When Things Go Missing

The opening photo may lead you to believe this post really belongs in my Creative Journey blog but what I am discussing today is not the technique illustrated above but that I forgot about it. It went missing from my mind.

One of my artistic transitions was from pen and ink with one color to water coloring in full color. And when I made that move it was because of a book on Chinese watercolor that told of how they often laid out the tones and line first with India Ink and then applied color on top. This of course requires waterproof inks and one day working on a particularly ambitious painting I discovered that not all India inks are waterproof.

I am not sure why I threw out the baby with the bathwater on this technique but I quickly went to applying ink on top of a watercolor instead of the other way around. Today most of my work still utilizes inks that are largely applied with calligraphy pens or lining brushes, but after wards as a finishing touch.

Yesterday when working on the painting on the left I suddenly remembered that inks can be laid down before. This painting is on a very smooth gessoed surface that resists glazing colors. I discovered that on a previous church painting. So to achieve my tones I laid down black and sepia washes in waterproof ink. The painting on the right show that before color has been applied over it.

Why did I forget this? It is a very useful technique especially on canyon walls where you want more definition of shape. And colors can look so much brighter in contrast to the darks. For eight years this Christmas eve I have blamed lapses of memory like this on my head injury. Now it could be just age. Or it all might be worse now because of the stress I am undergoing. I have been trying to remember every tit for tat from a two year old battle with the contractor from hell. Berating myself for things I have lost only increases the stress; makes more things go missing from my internal harddrive.

So I guess I will just be thrilled that I remembered this technique and paint happily on.


  1. Part of the fun of art is discovering for yourself the capabilities and limitations of your media and the strengths or weaknesses of your techniques. Of course, in some instances it can be anything but fun and cause quite considerable heartache as lots of hard work can be destroyed (as Leonardo found after painting the "Last Supper" using a new technique of his invention!).

    One of my art teachers actually had a card file where she jotted down all the techniques and media and suppliers and stuff she didn't want to forget. It was amusing at the time to see her going into her magic card file and dragging out the relevant card about anything and everything! Seems like a good idea tio me now...

  2. The forgetfulness is due to the stress and will go when the stress goes - which it will. It won't be easy until then but you will get there. Tiredness is a major player too as we both know.

    The technique came back to you when you needed it. Stay thrilled!


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