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alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

With the background starting to look a little better, I decided to attack the hair. I wanted to use cool colors so that it would contrast with the warm stuff around it, so I grabbed a bottle of ink that looked like it was purple and started squirting. One of the huge problems with alcohol inks is that you can’t tell what they’ll look like once they’ve been applied to your paper. The bottles are color coded, but the color coding totally sucks. The color matches are completely off and don’t account for the “some-areas-have-more-ink-and-block-the-paper-while-other-areas-have-less-ink-and-let-the-white-show-through” nature of the medium. I usually solve this problem by squirting a little on the page to see how it looks. Another thing to consider is that when one color of ink touches another, they begin to blend. The result of these collisions can be predicted if you know enough about color theory.

If you’d like me to write a tutorial about color theory and how it applies to alcohol inks, hit me up. If I get enough responses I’ll make another tutorial.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

I decided pretty early on that I didn’t like how the purple and pinks looked against my red background so, using the Self Moistening Art Brush with Alcohol Blending Solution loaded into the handle, I began to lighten the colors, hoping it would make the painting look better. In this instance, I used my painting like a palette, grabbing newly moistened ink from the places I didn’t want them and painting the pigment onto areas where I did. This is the third technique for applying color.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

Lightening the colors ended up looking terrible, so I stopped and started painting her hair orange, hoping this will be a better choice. It was. I liked it better, but now the piece had officially entered The Ugly Stage.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

The Ugly Stage happens to every piece of art. It’s that moment when things are beginning to get locked in, but for some reason nothing works. You have to fight through The Ugly Stage. This is the longest and most painful part of any work of art, but you have to bite and claw and scream and kick until you get through. It’s the only way to learn.

How did I deal with this Ugly Stage? I began by turning the terrible pink and purple parts orange. I did this by applying orange alcohol ink directly on top of the pink spots. Alcohol inks can wake themselves up, so if you know enough about color theory you can blend them directly on the paper. Pink is just red with white in it. If you add orange (which is just yellow with red in it) you will end up with a different shade of orange. It’s also important to know that if you add orange to purple (which is really just blue and red) it will neutralize and create a warm, rich brown.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

So that’s what I did.

After a lot of slow work with plenty of breaks to let the inks dry between layers, I wound up with this. We’re still solidly in The Ugly Stage, but things are starting to get better. At this point, I hate the hair, but I can’t figure out why. So I take a break…

 

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…to buy some comic books! Believe it or not, taking breaks is an important part of making art. Remember, it’s more important that you see what’s wrong with a painting that what’s right. If you can’t identify the issue, take a break. Then come back to it with fresh eyes. With enough breaks, you can figure out what’s wrong with any piece of art.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

When I came back to the painting, I realized what was wrong. The hair was too nice. I had been too careful. There was fear in my lines and areas of color. So I messed them up. I attacked the places I liked the least with blasts of Alcohol Blending Solution and stabs from my Art Brush. I dribbled orange ink all over the place using the Direct Squirt Technique, then watched it spread like psychedelic fire. I stopped thinking about how winning a free tattoo from Teresa Sharpe and let myself have fun. The painting is still in The Ugly Stage, but it’s starting to look better. A lot of the reason it looks better is that I began to loosen up.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

Next came the Super Scary Part.

It was time to paint the face. If I was following Proper Painting Procedure, I would have painted the face first, then the bit of Teresa’s hair on the side of her head, then her earring. That’s because the bit of hair and earring are on top of the skin. Remember, it’s usually a good idea to paint the things that are furthest away first, but I was just too scared. So I eased into it. That’s OK. Sometimes you have to ease into it.

To paint the hair I outlined the area with my brush…

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

…then filled it in using the Direct Squirt Technique.

I also decided that I needed more separation from the background. When I began the piece, the game plan was to make the background warm and her hair cool, but that didn’t work. So I tried the opposite. I added a bunch of blue which turned the red to purple. Do you think I made the right choice? Why or why not?

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

Next came the bird. I outlined the lines with my brush, then, once the lines were dry, went back over them, using the ink from the lines themselves to fill in what they were surrounding.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

Next, I filled in her earring using the Pigment Stealing Method. To do this, I stole pigment from the background by waking the area up with a little blending solution, then dipping my brush and smearing it into my working area.

Again, I should have left the earring for last, because it is the object which is closet to the viewer. But I didn’t. I was still too scared to paint her face. Maybe next time I’ll have more courage.

 

alcohol ink portrait of teresa sharpe on yupo paper

After a lot of long, slow work, allowing the piece to dry between layers, I finally reached the crust of the pizza. I had no choice but to begin painting the face. We’re still in The Ugly Phase, but it’s time for the Moment Of Truth.

Will the painting survive!?

FIND OUT IN PART FOUR!