I had a photo of my daughter being fitted for her wedding dress. The Dressmaker was a painting from the time I took the photo. Five years later, I am finally getting to paint it. The original photo had poor lighting and a cluttered background. I used my photo program to exaggerate the lighting and printed a highly contrasted reference photo. To go along with the theme of my painting, I used India paper, which looks rough and "handmade". It has imperfections that look like fabric and really soaks up the water and paint. You can lift out, but must be careful. I "invented" a watercolor eraser by wiring a strip of micro cleaning sponge around the tip of an old brush. This helped me be more exact about lifting without scrubbing too hard.I also used the traditional sketchbook value study with pencil and water so that by the time I got to draw on the paper, I was very familiar with what I wanted to do. I used rabatment to enlarge the photo to fit the paper, being careful not to erase much and leave any ghosts on this soft paper.
This was important, because usually when I am excited about a painting and plunge right in, I end up struggling to correct mistakes that should have been worked out before.
I had been watching an art series about old Masters and Rembrandt "Chiaroscuro". This painting begged to be painted with that as inspiration. I left out the clutter in the background but added a mirror to reflect us watching my daughter in her special moment.
While the painting is essentially a portrait of this talented seamstress, this is one of those paintings I've done for myself. As I painted, I thought back to all of the memories we made during the preparations for her big day, and truly enjoyed the process.
Happy Painting! :)
I think it is important to share our process with others, just as we gain from watching other artists work.