“Three is a Crowd” went through an interesting painting process. I found 6 sheets of 300lb hot press Aquarelle paper in a cupboard and decided to test the paper out, painting “Sunlit Trail” on the back and this one on the front. I had to use acrylic paint on “Sunlit Trail” (at the Red Door exhibit) in order to have success. “Three is a Crowd” is a watercolor. I worked on the front of the sheet, and believed any beginner would lose all faith in their ability if they used this paper.
To give it a chance, I worked on the composition, overlapping the first two cow’s heads and placed the third cow on the right against their dark bodies. It wasn’t long before the paper showed off its challenging qualities. To cope, I would only paint one direct layer at a time and then stopped until it was totally dry. Layering paint was frightening, creating either amazing or horrible results. The Aquarelle paper may be un-sized, as when you painted it made tiny water spots showing up like little pours all over when wet and it felt almost mushy. See how the grass in the back is bleeding? That happened by lining up two layers of paint on the same edge even though the paper was dry. At one point, I added a curved grid over the whole piece which stylized the middle cow’s legs beautifully.
Lifting removed a whole layer of paper and was a near tragedy. Last, I painted shadows over the cows making them look all spotty and dull, but I kept going. Ignoring the spottiness, I did not retouch anything and quit for it to dry. To my surprise, it dried beautifully even though it looked like I had ruined the painting by doing so. The cow on the left’s brown body is a magical brown. Up close you can see all these colors suspended together but they do not change in value or create shapes. I am very pleased with this painting.
Imagine what they are saying. The two Herefords on the left are talking about something and the third on the right is listening in.