Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wild Bill Killed Again, This Time On Watercolor Paper

August 25, 2016
   It pains me to admit this, but I pushed the cover concept too far on the Wild Bill painting. I had some loose, spontaneous passages going and I systematically smothered them. Here is the underpainting:

"Wild Bill Underpainting"

 Very respectable start.  Nice and loose. I followed this with a first pass on the figure and it had some nice little passages in it.

"Wild Bill First Pass"

  The gun smoke seems airy and light and the painting is alive. The problem with this one, for me, was that his face was too narrow and the smoke around his mid-section was a little odd (ending abruptly at his lapel for example) and I thought it needed work. So I took another pass at it.

"Wild Bill Second Pass"

       Expanded smoke across lapel. Decent Face. The gun is better, but I should have kept this version of his hand, because, well, I flat out ruined it:

"Wild Bill Final"

  I had a life drawing instructor at the University of Arizona who would come around to see what each student was doing and he often would yell out, "Platypus hands!" when he saw egregious attempts at drawing hands too fat (which is a common mistake for beginners). I can just hear Mr. Scott yelling this at this painting, "Platypus Hand!" For some reason the smoke seems leaden, not light and airy like it was in the under painting. Wild Bill's expression went from formidable to flat out worried. Now the title should be "Why Is Wild Bill So Stressed Out?!"

The Verdict
   In the end it's the little things that killed it. The hand, the overworked face. If I had a better sketch to start with I wouldn't be wing-dinging it so much at the end. And that's what I think killed the piece.

"Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."
—Lawrence D. Bell (no relation)

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