Putting the Custom Back in Customer - Part 2 of 6 / by VH McKenzie

Actually completing one of the 6 pieces commissioned gave me some confidence -- the dread began to dissipate. I decided to turn to one of the ink and watercolor pieces next, to switch up the action. 

I pulled my watercolors down from the shelf, literally dusting them off since I hadn't used them in quite a while. A quick rinse of the palette under the faucet restored the exposed clumps of paint to a fresh and tempting bounty of color:

Unrolled my packet of brushes as well.

Note my battered radiograph pen: -I have about a dozen of these in varying line widths but they are notoriously delicate and easily clogged. Thankfully I was able to get my .50 weight flowing - I used it for the line work in each of the paintings/drawings.

I decided to work on the Hawaii color photo next as I thought it would be the most straightforward. Here is the photo my client provided with my own grid added in photoshop:


Looks like a solid black silhouette, with just huge clumps of black along the lower quarter of the painting. I decided to adjust the levels again (in photoshop) so I could get a better idea of what was going on in all those shadows. It's surprising how much more detail is hidden in those dark areas:

 I knew I wanted to simulate the appearance of the original photo but the level-adjusted version gave me a bit more information to create an underlying structure. Even if it would ultimately disappear under layers of watercolor, it was helpful for me to see more of what is actually happening. 

Here's the first line drawing:


Ok, it's a start. Then more line and some layers of watercolor. I knew that hotspot of the sun would essentially be the one spot on the page that had no ink, no color.  I had to be careful to keep that small area completely clear, working from light to dark:


I decided to mix deep Prussian blue with the black ink to create the shadows, that gave them a little more complexity and depth, rather than just painting everything with a deep flat black.
And the final, cropped down to 9"x12," - done!


Stay tuned for more tomorrow…….