Adding watercolor washes to wet ink is always a bit risky.

Rob Fraser, Blues Jam, March 15, 2011

The lines in Rob’s hat were strong.  I wanted to leave it alone as an ink drawing, but it was the first few strokes of the night and I couldn’t resist adding color.  As I washed in the shadow under the bill of his hat, I got too close to the lines I loved and everything went into a big blur.  Having lost the strength of the lines I simply moved into paint mode and continued to blur color and ink.

There is something to be learned from every painting.  The high key yellow works with the broken white shapes in the microphone, the body, the guitar and the face, connecting Rob to the background.  The warm hues of the background create a sense of artificial stage lighting while the cool greens and purples on Rob’s clothing place him in his own shadows and set him apart from the background.  The white shape of his guitar head helps to balance the heaviness of his dark face and hat.  I like that there is still a bit of light on his hat thanks to the translucency of watercolor and the clarity of the green color in spite of the ink bleeding into it.

I can’t help but wish I had moved on to another piece of paper before adding color to the ink drawing, not because I don’t like the end result of this little sketch but because I really liked the original line drawing of the hat.

Black Ink applied with dip pen, followed by watercolor washes using only pure color or a mix of only two pigments.