Wednesday, December 5, 2007

From Thanksgiving to Hanukka

...and I continue skipping between Sam and MistyN.

WackieM has come up with a new challenge for this month: paint any subject, using only 3 colors. Interesting - but wait! you don't get to choose the colors, but actually let fate make the decision. As she put it, "Any subject, any style but you are limited to 3 colors plus black and white. The way you select the three colors is the fun part. On separate slips of paper, write down each of your watercolor tubes of paint and put them in a jar. Shake it all up and then pull out 3 slips of paper. Those are your colors to work with."

Now... I shamefully admit that I have over 100 watercolor tubes (and that is without the 50 crappy ones I got when I just started painting and a smart store owner managed to sell them to me, promising "They are second to none". Yeah, right...). So, with the suggested method, I would never get to the actual painting!

The JohnnyB heard my outcry, and suggested to use dice. Apparently, the man has a 12-sided dice and an 8-sided one, which makes it easier. Since my paints are kinda sorted by hue (the blues live together in one drawer, the reds reside in a another - and so on), I went through some complicated mathematical calculations, throwing one dice to choose the drawer, and then another toss to select the color. Took some left-brain thinking - and these muscles are now sore.

This challenge came just in time, as I was trying to figure out which colors to use for painting MistyN.

Voila - no need to think anymore. The dice has spoken: Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Violet and Organic Vermilion (which is an orangey red, highly toxic; I shall not lick my brush this time).

I went for the first attempt, using these three colors, plus black to create some darks. Both Cobalt Blue and Ultramarine Violet are wimpy when it comes to getting dark values, and the black helped create some very cool darks for the background and shadows.

Thing is - there was nothing really exciting about the colors, as these are colors I may have normally used for a portrait anyway! WackieM kept getting wacky colors for her challenges, as did LimaB, which forced them to push the envelope - and all I had was this usual combo.

Which made the painting a bit too ordinary. Yes, nice light pattern, almost a candle-lit mood, but - I wasn't thrilled about it.

I almost decided to give up on the subject. Painting young beautiful women is always a challenge - their faces are too precious to mess up with. Plus, I usually go for lines or texture in my paintings - and young faces do not have either. I was about to sadly depart from the gorgeous photo I took at the Thankgiving dinner and move on to another subject.

But then, The JohnnyB came to the rescue, and got a lot of credit points!

"What do you expect?", he asked, "This is your first attempt at painting her! Of course you are being cautious and just trying to copy what you see".

With this alibi in mind, and with WackieM's encouragement to explore this further and maybe try different surfaces to work on, I suddenly remembered the gold gesso I bought a couple of years ago, and used it only once, with disastrous results.

I decided to give it another go. I smeared the gesso over watercolor paper, created some texture with the brush and with some stamping, and let it dry.

"I'll paint on it tomorrow", I promised myself.

"Maybe", sneered my procrastinating self.

Then I went to look for Hanukka candles, as we only have 4 left from last years. Couldn't find any, anywhere!!

Later that evening, The JohnnyB lit the candles (improvised ones, that actually look quite cool!!) in his charming desecrating manner. I went into my studio, looked at the gessoed paper - - -

- - - and 4 hours later, I was gazing at an almost finished painting. I just could not resist the urge.

Ahhh, what fun! Not only did the gesso create a very forgiving surface that enabled lifting and correcting, it also lent itself to creating wonderful textures.

I tried to stick with the challenge colors, but then figured that by using gold gesso, I am already introducing a fourth color, and thus am not sticking to the rules anyway. So I changed the red to a different one, and later used more intense blue and violet to add some darks.

And so, with no further ado, here is my second attempt:

"Thankgiving", Watercolor and Gold Gesso on W/N HP Paper, 14" x 10"

It's looking very good next to the Hanukka candles - almost as if they are the source of light!


Wackie M said...

What a beauty! Both the painting and the girl. Now on to even more strange combos....what do the dice have in store for you?

Mike said...

NAB . . .This is gorgeous! Isn't it fun when the urge hits and you just cannot resist . . .and something really cool comes of it? !

My best to you and John . . .all the blessings and wonder of the season . . .di and I send our affection.

Nava said...

From the mouths of masters... Thank you both!! I humbly blush.

And just so you know - the girl is even prettier in real life - and I know her! Now you understand how intimidating it is to try and render such beauty?

jenlongdon said...

Followed the link from Blogauthor's post. I LOVE the piece she has! I'm interested in seeing your gallery but too lazy to read through all your back posts. Is there a gallery of your paintings.

I love both versions of the woman you did for your challenge.

JohnnyB said...

I like both, but I love the 2nd one - much more "Nava-ish", capturing mood and emotion.

I think this might be my 2nd favorite now. Right behind the amazing collage of yourself (

Nava said...

JenLongdon welcome to my blog, and thank you for the encouragement!!! Sorry - no gallery yet - that shall happen when I have time to create my own webpage. For now, this blog is it.

The JohnnyB, WooooHooo, such a positive feedback from you is quite incredible! Thanks!! :-W

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

Kadima, nava, I love your work.

Sandy Maudlin said...

You are such an expressive artist with words and paint. I really enjoyed your site.

Keep up the portraits, too. very emotive!