Taking the Good from Failure

I thought that I was getting very close to finishing this picture. I was working to quickly fill in the background and wasn't sure which direction I was taking with it. I had originally considered a light blue background, but it was competing and clashing with the other blues in the picture. I switched to greens and was happier with that. Initially, I had thought the green jays would blend into a green background too much, but found that they didn't. I had added a tree trunk to the left side of the picture, made some changes to the bottom limb and started filling in the background. (You can refer to the photo from my previous post to see the differences.)
To get the background done with soft gradations and variations, I had switched from the colored pencils to Neocolors II . They are used by Ester Roi, who uses heat to melt the wax in the crayons and colored pencils and has developed a heated drawing surface especially for that purpose, and Ranjini who likes to work on sanded surfaces. They are actually watersoluble, but I wasn't using watercolor paper and like the idea of heating the wax to smooth it around. I used an electric warming tray under my artwork to heat the painting enough to get my crayons to a nice buttery texture so I could spread them around the background. I also used them, with their creamy opaqueness, to create the tree tunk and new direction of the bottom limb. For good measure, I hit a few of the blossoms with them, too. My intention was to come back with the colored pencil for a little more detail and refinement after the crayon layer had cooled.
To my dismay, when I tried to draw over the Neocolors with the colored pencils, the layer of wax simply scraped off the paper! YIKES!! That left me with paper showing and an obvious missing layer of color. It left a texture similar to that of chipped paint. Perhaps I applied the Neocolor too thick or something. I will contact Ms. Ester for some expert assistance. I'm a "burnisher" with colored pencil and put down thick, heavy coats of colored pencil. I tried rubbing a little more gently with the colored pencils, but still the wax peeled up. What to do, what to do!?!
After almost 2 weeks of daily work on this painting, I didn't want to admit defeat. I have a small supply of the Neocolors and didn't feel I had to colors needed to try to get more detail simply by using them. I got out some tubes of gouache and began painting on different areas of the painting and that seemed to help somewhat. I still wanted to come back in a few places with the colored pencils. When I tried that over the gouache, the gouache layer popped off in chunks! At that point, I decided I had reached disaster level and this painting was a bust. Perhaps I will figure a way to salvage part of it - maybe in a collage or something.
I couldn't get too excited about starting over on the same exact picture I had already put so much time into. The photos I had of the green jays I have taken from my backyard and, more recently, at a roadside park just south of Kingsville, TX. I got the photos of the wisteria at a friend's house when we were visiting last year. So, I opened several of the photos in Photoshop and started playing around. I chopped and pasted a piece of the vine here and a blossom there and finally came up with a totally new composition with one, slightly larger, green jay and the wisteria draped horizontally across the page. Here's the final reference photo I constructed:

In some ways, I like this composition better and have to hang on to that as a benefit from the failure of my previous attempt. I also learned that I will Not use colored pencil over the Neocolors (unless someone can tell me how to do so without the same effects) nor over gouache.
Back to the drawing board!


  1. That is too bad, working on it so long, and a disaster happening at the end! But, I have to say the photoshop pic turned out very good. Sorry, I haven't used any of the mediums you were trying out.
    Tomorrow will be a better day :)

  2. you are such an adventurer with your art -- trying new techniques and media. i hope you can find a way to salvage this piece as it is coming along so nicely. you really did a great job with the wisteria!

  3. Thanks, julie! I might be able to chop it down to a smaller piece. I'm nearing completion of the do-over. (:->)


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