Hi All Artists Hearts,
Face Book clues were "purple, antique, strange frills, trading post & Port Perry".
Anyone guess what the series would be about?  Well, it's all about a stunning decorative Kale I once discovered while visiting the Port Perry Trading Post years ago!

So as promised we are beginning a brand new Watercolor series today entitled, "The Trading Post".  As usual we will begin with my original sketch for this new painting.  It has taken me weeks to decide what elements to include, leave out or change altogether, and a further month to draw the decorative Kale in this composition.  I was going through my reference photos and found this picture taken way back in September 2011.  On and off I have played with the idea of painting it.  I just couldn't resist any longer.  So here we go!

The Trading Post Sketch by Jan Howlett Stage 1

As you can see this is a very complicated sketch, but that was the new challenge for me because I needed to include many of the details, more so than usual, so that I could find my way within each Kale leaf within the drawing. Even so, many times I lost my way in drawing the sketch, but even worse, especially as the painting progressed, it often became difficult to distinguish between what was a frill and what was clearly a dark
interior shadow space. So my reference photo was a life saver. Even with this much detail I will still have to define and re-define some areas as I go along.

(In fact, if you tap your Control button and your + button at the same time, several times, you can enlarge your screen and see just how confusing the frills get!)

However, as I began to paint in the first few layers of paint for the frills and shadows I began to find that I had taken a wrong turn in several places.   I soon discovered that the frustrating process of re-creating the drawing on the fly became a bit too nerve racking and filled with questions.

Question like, "If I take the drawing this way, then that will effect this part of the drawing. If I scrub the last color out will it take it back enough to repaint the area successfully?  By doing so will I damage the paper or dull the underlying veil of color too much?"  It was like playing a very tricky game of Chess, fearful that I would make a fatal error and forfeit the game, or the painting in this case,  all together.

The best thing I could do in those moments was to put the painting aside and study the entire composition long and hard before making any further decisions on how to advance.  It meant being inventive and very patient. It was important to make sure the bones of the painting were securely in place before moving onto the more exciting layers of adding beautiful color and details!

I must admit there were a couple of times I really thought I had ruined the piece for all together, but those times of setting the painting aside to study it always helped me to see a way to rescue it. So the challenge was constant, but with perseverance and relying on the lessons and experience previously learned I was able to rescue many of those troublesome areas and grow in the process. 

Looking back would I do things differently? Yes for sure. I learned some very valuable lessons while doing this study and I will try to pass along some of them with you during this series,
whether it be a flawed sketch technique, or working on the rust inside the bowl of the Cream Separator, the myriad of white garden stones, potting soil, small roses taking too much attention from the Kale, or the difficult center leaves of the Kale itself.  We will try to cover as many of these topics as we can in the time allotted for this series.

Until next time stay inspired and paint what you love. Be always learning.
Blessings,
Jan.