Monday, May 12, 2008

Glazing techniques for painting cat eyes in watercolor

I was working on a 5x7 watercolor last weekend that involved a lot of glazing. The subject, a cat with gorgeous green eyes that I really wanted to expand on and create a level of depth and mystery that wasn't apparent in the reference photo.
I went a little outside my comfort zone on this one and selected hot-press paper (smooth, not rough) so that I could achieve a more glassy appearance to the eyes. I find it more difficult to blend the cat's fur on smooth paper, but seeing as how the eyes were the focal point, I suffered through the limitations while working on the fur.

I chose a mixture of cool and warm yellows and greens, ending with a punch of Phthalo Blue
I began by wetting the entire eye area with clear water, then dropped in a bit of Helio Lemon Yellow (cool). I let that swirl around a bit before adding a little Viridian. This I pulled out towards the edges a bit, then used my brush to gently guide it to the edges. I also had to tilt my paper in several directions to get the flow just right.

I let that dry then came back with a bit of Gamboge (warm) and Olive Green (warm) employing the same techniques, but with less water. With every subsequent glaze you want to use less water - this is one difference between a glaze and a wash - washes have more water added to the paint. After that dried, I added a bit more Viridian and a little Phthalo Blue right where the Iris would be - so that it would add more depth. I "pricked" the paint with very small dots of pure Phthalo so that it would bleed in a little bit more. I added Pure Black for the Iris. Usually I would mix up a deep black using green and crimson, however I wasn't using any crimson here so it was easier to grab a little black from my dry Stabilo Watercolor Crayon - a touch of water to the end of the crayon and I've got a nice easy black with no mess.

The shadows were added after the rest of the painting was finished, and I opted for White Gouache highlights at the very end. I had not saved any white paper for the highlights because I wasn't sure if I wanted any when I began the painting.

Have fun experimenting!


Karen Faulkner said...

Wow, the eyes have such beautiful depth!

Rob Burkhard said...

I am continously amazed at the appeal you capture in your animal and human paintings.

katelynjane said...

Wow, this picture is INTENSE! Good work on the emotion and depth!

I have a contest on my blog I'd love you to enter! Make sure you check it out :)

Hope you're doing ok!

Amy Lilley Designs said...

So, I'm inlove w/ this kitty too...wonderful info w/ your process!!! Another beauty!!!

Deb DiSalvo said...

That is sooo precious! You'll have to check out my blog today, I have my kitty on it!!!
Cheers, Deb

Christy DeKoning said...

Karen, thank you - I am pleased with the results of all that glazing!

Rob, thank you! My head's getting big today.

Katelynjane, I'm glad you like it! I entered your contest, of course.

Amy, it's nice to know that my readers enjoy reading about the process too :-)

Deb - wish I was in Columbus I'd visit the show. Thank you!

The Aging Disco Diva said...

Oh your work is AWESOME! It is immediately apparent that there is a lot of love in your art. I have your website bookmarked so that I can browse through all your entries this evening.

Kim said...

hi Christy !!!
just dropping in to say ..
I love your paintings :) :)

Christy DeKoning said...

How cool of you to stop by my little corner of the blogosphere. Thank you!

(anyone out there needing a good read, head on over to the Aging Disco Diva's pad)

Christy DeKoning said...

Kim thank you for joining us from Australia today. What lovely compliments coming from such an esteemed artist (not to mention the #2 Female Blogger in Australia!)

Please pop in anytime. We're all friends here :-)

* mY fRiEnDs cALL mE Rella * said...

Thank you for such an in depth bit of instruction on the glazing for the eyes. I am new to this form of art and can't get enough of the process behind the process. These are stunning eyes!!

xo Rella

Christy DeKoning said...

Thank you for stopping by Rella - I'm always happy to share the process, it's how we all learn & grow. So glad to know I've helped a little bit :-)