Watercolor Wednesday

Tired of tryingStudio Still Life Reference © 2014 Denise Ortakales to find something portable enough to bring into class, yet interesting enough to bother painting, I set up a still life at home that I could never set up in class and replicate the lighting week after week. So I set it up and sketched it at home. I took this photo reference to work from in class.

These are all items from my studio that have meaning to me. There’s a small tabletop easel, my Graphic Chemical apron from college that I used for printmaking (the first time. GCC in Greenfield, MA. Woot!), Indian spirit stones bought at Pike’s Market place in Seattle while visiting my son, a hand manikin, and a shoe last that I think came from my mother (my grandfather owned a hosiery mill.) There are also two subtle connections to the historical fiction novel I’m working on—the stone held by the manikin has a turtle drawn on it (my main character’s Abenaki name is Tolba which means turtle) and shoes were the main industry in Haverhill, MA where part of my story takes place.

Studio Still Life © 2014 Denise OrtakalesI am a lover of color. It is my raison d’etre. But I still wanted to honor the neutral tones in the still life so I chose two pumped up neutrals that were compliments—Raw Sienna and Moonglow. (Warning! The following is another gushing endorsement of Daniel Smith Watercolors, and no, I am in no way profiting from my endorsement.) Moonglow is another staining and granulating color from Daniel Smith, comprised of three pigments—Anthraquinoid Red, Ultramarine Blue and Viridian. It’s great for shadows sometimes leaving a pinkish washy edge. It’s so yummy! I liked the challenge of working in only two colors and was surprised by how it looked like more. 

Here’s the result. I definitely took more than 15 minutes to paint it, but didn’t labor over it like I did the frame or doll piece. The drawing, particularly the lettering, fed the side of my brain craving organization, and I tried to let the watercolors do their thing without too much meddling. It’s hard to find that balance. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.

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