I have painted a girl in a dark room, suggesting that she is sheltering from the dangers in her outside world, but I wanted to show hope with a ray of strong light falling onto her face. The light symbolizes her faith as well as the inner power that resides within all people to help them in difficult times.
I used only transparent watercolor paints and a little bit of masking fluid for the highlights. The work was completed in 2 steps. First I painted wet on wet. The paper was completely moist from both sides. I made the first layer with major color relationships. Then after drying I fixed the paper on a board. I continued with wet on dry approach trying to take the tone in full strength. Special attention was paid to the face of the girl and her gesture. I also felt it was important to keep very sharp contrasts and exaggerate the light areas.
Step 1. After completing the drawing in outlines I applied masking fluid to protect the highlights (only small tiny areas).
Then I wet the sheet of paper from both sides and did the underpainting in rather bright colors, keeping them in balance and avoiding painting the lightest areas. I dried the lightest areas on face and body with a paper towel and then I wet all over with plain water, avoiding the lightest areas. For the first layer I used Raw Sienna, Hansa Yellow Light, Pyrrol Orange and Pyrrol Scarlet for the warm areas and added into it some Ultramarine and Moonglow. The cool areas are started with a thin wash of Sienna and then a stronger wash of Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine Blue wet on wet.
Step 2. In the second step, I added the mid tones, balancing warm and cool shades. Here I also added some of the dark contrasts and checked the tonal range. I continued with the background, adding darker tones with thin wash of Tiger’s Eye Genuine and a much darker application of Burnt Umber. I also painted the shaded areas on the hands of the model.
For the skin tone I mixed Raw Sienna and Rose of Ultramarine as a major mixture that I shifted to warm or cool temperature by adding more Raw Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Pyrrol Red (to warm) or Ultramarine Blue/Verditer Blue (to cool). At this stage I added darker contrasts in the hair and on the neck.
Step 3. In step three, I worked in full tonal strength on the focal area (the face and hands of the girl). I partly removed the mask and adjusted the highlights.
Step 4. I completed the painting with the dark background, uniting and balancing all parts. The background should help to enhance the focal point and figure. Then I removed the rest of the mask and considered whether I should adjust something. Often the highlights require some adjustment.
I used the Watercolor paper Saunders Waterford by St Cuthberts Mill (UK), colors from my signature palette by DANIEL SMITH and my signature brushes Roubloff both flat and round.