Jana Bouc, Artist

Orchid Painting in Watercolor for the book but….

Orchid painting in watercolor, 8.5" x 11.5"

So here’s the frustrating thing: I learned that the publisher wants me to write the text accompanying the step by step photos as instructions (first do this, now do that) rather than a description of what I’ve done. Sometimes watercolors go as planned and that would be simple to do, because what I did is how I would tell someone else to do it.  But with this painting there was just as much taking off of paint as there was putting it on. Some of that was about softening edges with a damp brush and then blotting, but some of it was just removing paint that wasn’t working. I’ve never seen a “how to” book that says paint on a nice wash. Now wipe it off.

My biggest problem with this painting was the photo I had to work from. Like many artistic photos of flowers, it was shot without shadows or directional light and therefore everything was very flat with little dimensionality. Even more difficult, everything except the front center flower was intentionally out of focus. That makes for a lovely photo but not an easy watercolor painting project. And there is no variation in color: they’re all just cotton candy pink with dark magenta veins. And I picked the stupid photo and thought it would be easy. But for me, what is easy is lots of detail and variations in color, shape and value.

I started over four times, each time getting a little further and then abandoning ship. If I was just painting for myself any of those starts would have been fine and enjoyable to paint but I was finding myself exaggerating shapes and colors and losing fidelity with the photo.

Now I’m not sure what to do: Paint this again in order to be able to do write a logical “how to” that doesn’t include undoing previous steps? Write a “how to” and leave out the do-overs? Enjoy my vacation this week and forget about the whole project? (the latter sounds most appealing)

I think I’ll send a photo of the painting to my editor and see if she even likes the painting. My persistent (compulsive?) side really wants to paint the painting again, trying to do it more simply and cleanly. But my (sane?) side says “Go have a bowl of ice cream and watch a movie.” I wonder which side will win and how late the ice cream shop is open?