“Sagaku” means balance in Japanese. I thought that perfectly titled this 8” x 15” watercolor that was painted on 260lb Arches, cold-pressed paper using DANIEL SMITH Watercolor paints.
I was inspired to paint this piece while stacking my rice bowls up in my cabinet. I loved how they tilted and shifted with the addition of each bowl. I set up a still life near my kitchen window when the afternoon sun was pouring in.
Dramatic lighting is something that I love to incorporate into each painting. I love the high contrast. I photographed my still life set up, taking several pictures from all different angles. I then download them to my computer. Once I see them on my computer screen I determine which photo reference has the strongest composition. I then draw my composition out and transfer my drawing using home-made transfer paper to limit the amount of pencil lines in my painting.
Paint Color Choices
For this painting I used a fairly limited palette of DANIEL SMITH Watercolors: Ultramarine Blue, Indigo, Indigo/Sepia mixture for my darkest darks, Payne’s Gray, Sepia and Quinacridone Gold.
TRANSFER THE DRAWING
In this image you can see my transferred drawing onto the 260lb Arches cold-pressed paper. I block in a lot of areas that are the darkest with graphite, they will be covered with paint and they help me have a “road map” for my painting. I paint in a puzzle-piece method starting in one area and completing it before I move on. For this painting I started at the top and will complete one bowl at a time before moving on to the next.
I have almost completed the top bowl in this image. I started to lay in the darks in the background to make sure I have my values where I want them. After putting the dark background in I realize that the top edge of my bowl needs to be re-shaped. I used my synthetic brush to help “erase” some of the dark background applying plain water and blotting with a paper towel I pull up a little of the top edge to straighten it back out. It’s important with so many ellipses in a painting to stop and look at the painting from a distance to make sure the bowls are correctly shaped.
Continuing down my stack of bowls, I complete one at a time before I move on to the next one. I have used Ultramarine Blue in each bowl so far to make sure there is continuity to the piece. Even the areas that are in the shadows have a little Ultramarine in there. I have used Sepia on the edges of the bowls and a hint of Quinacridone Gold to warm up the rims of the bowls.
KEEP THE WHITES
I’m starting on my sixth bowl in this image. It is important to keep the areas that have the most light hitting them very white. To give the bowls a rounded feel I have done light washes of Ultramarine Blue as the bowl recedes into the shadow areas. As the bowls recede they gradually get darker by adding a little Indigo into the wash on right side of the bowls. The treatment of the edges of the bowl is really important. Even though the bowl is in the shadows on the right side there is still a hint of white or Ultramarine Blue at the edges.
I’m starting on my seventh bowl in this image. The sixth bowl was mostly indigo because of the simplicity of the pattern so I added in light washes of Ultramarine Blue where I could to help with continuity of the overall painting.
Since the background is super dark I decided to paint an area of Ultramarine Blue in the bottom left corner. I then lightly signed my name in pencil over the dried Ultramarine Blue paint. At this point I masked my name using masking fluid. When the painting is completely done I will use my rubber cement pick-up to remove the masking fluid and my name will appear in Ultramarine Blue.
WASHES & REFLECTIONS
I’m starting on my seventh bowl in this image. The sixth bowl was mostly indigo because of the simplicity of the pattern so I added in light washes of Ultramarine Blue where I could to help with continuity of the overall painting. Since the background is super dark I decided to paint an area of Ultramarine Blue in the bottom left corner. I then lightly signed my name in pencil over the dried Ultramarine Blue paint. At this point I masked my name using masking fluid. When the painting is completely done I will use my rubber cement pick-up to remove the masking fluid and my name will appear in Ultramarine Blue.
There are some interesting shapes in the bowls caused by reflective lighting. It was a challenge to make them look like they were supposed to be there and not a weird shape. This is when I have to remind myself to paint what I see and not what I think I see. Some of these bottom bowls have washes of Payne’s Gray to darken the values on the shadow side.
Here is the completed painting. The bottom bowl was a lot of fun to paint. The area in the middle has a big shiny area. To achieve this I lightly painted in the shapes in Payne’s Gray and Ultramarine Blue I then went over the are with plain water and lifted up color using a paper towel. The entire painting was a very interesting play of light and dark in an almost monochromatic color scheme.