View Full Version : The Mayan Girl

02-06-2007, 06:20 PM


Title: The Mayan Girl
Year Created: 2007
Medium: Watercolor
Surface: Paper
Dimension: 30x22
Allow digital alterations?: Yes!

I posted this as a WIP in watercolor yesterday. I am going to take it to my art group for a face to face critique but I am a bit torn about where to go.
I think I want to paint this whole blankety blank sheet and have it float. The right side is going to have to go much darker as it is the inside of her house. I have cropped it as it would look matted and have a strong desire to stop.

I am putting the full sheet and crop in. If I do much more it will be a lot more detailing in the wood and finishing the thatch but it will stay a lot of white paper.

Lazy as I am, do you really think it will improve it or will all that detail tend to minimize the expression, which was the only reason I wanted to do all this.

02-06-2007, 08:42 PM
It is finished. More doesn't always mean better.

02-06-2007, 09:02 PM
I like it as is, as well - follow your desire to stop! :) The way it is now keeps the focus on the girl's pose and expression.

02-07-2007, 12:59 AM
Stop! Stop now! My attention goes right to her angelic face as it should. It's just perfect! Wow - I love it!

02-07-2007, 03:04 AM
Well, the art group was a bit busy and I chickened out.

Just thought I would put in a close up.
Yes, that little rip at the bellybutton was a discovery in the photo... as was that ax. There is something about it that keeps you wandering and exploring.

Thanks for your positive input. I have been at a loss as to how to break away from the pack out here and do what I love (things with eyeballs...) but make something different than the tons of oil paintings that tend to proliferate out here. A by-product of a really active workshop school.

I tend to WORK a good watercolor, but there is such a prejudice, and of course, the expense of a full size frame for this monster! I am constantly being pushed toward oil over pastel or watercolor. That thing that if it is on paper, it is not worth the time! I love art on paper.

These monsterpieces, as I call them - anything that takes more than a day to paint - are all about discipline. The other stuff is more about expression. Watercolor does control me, not the other way around, so these pieces are almost as much time planning...which this one has been hovering since October... as it is painting. I locked myself in the house for two solid days and kept working. The problem with stopping is, that I do tend to STOP.

I am going to try to at least work the margins and see if it holds as a full sheet, but for now, I may not go into the bark as I intended... just to let it gel a bit.


Eduardo Flores
02-07-2007, 06:53 AM
...The right side is going to have to go much darker as it is the inside of her house. ...will all that detail tend to minimize the expression, which was the only reason I wanted to do all this.
If the scene must be rendered darker, it will be necessary to maintain a strong contrast of values (highlights on the lightened areas of the girl) in order to have a strong visual effect.
Details? We need to be careful with them: too much description steals the attention from the main interest of the artist.


02-07-2007, 10:07 AM
Interesting point of view.

It has often been stated in critique that the area with the highest difference of contrast, as in lightest and darkest areas next to each, other will draw the eye. Or the focal point. It is going to be hard to compete with that strong dark hair and lights and darks of the face. It is a good strong focal point. To compete with nearly pure white in the dress will be hard. Because I have maxed out my lightest light, even a few steps back makes the rest of it darker... it doesn't need more. Or perhaps that is what you're are saying I have.

The darker area I refer to is only the flat plane to the right of the picture that is presently simply flat. When I add my washes, it will go back a couple of steps and make a pattern of lights and darks as is the rest of the painting: patterns of lights and darks. Not as dark as in the spaces between the wood.

The rendering of a LOT of detail can become monotonous. It doesn't compete, it tends to bore the eye. Even the stripes in this painting are only broken up by the bucket and axe handle and diagonal behind her leg. With all the objects implied in this, it is really a very simple visual statement. The addition of texture, which actually what I intend, will simply be more washes of tones and colors with crisper edges, not really much more contrast. As it sits now, there is no opportunity for any more light area.

I think the real problem might be having her look too "cut out" of the picture if I go too dark behind her.

Oddly, in seeing your critque as something I feel I needed to defend against, it has helped me understand that the detail I intend to add in the bark will unify the background. I really don't want the white to pop any more than it does, I may actually (I DOUBT IT) feel the need to bring the value down in the dress as I get closer to the finish. Although it is part of the emphasis of the scene, I was impressed by the general gray tone in the photo and bringing the background down in general but using texture, will de-emphasize the darks in the nooks and crannies, maybe getting the eye down to explore some of the more interesting subordinate areas... like her dirty feet, which I think need some more detail and the ax head, which seems to be a surprise when people look harder at the piece...

Thank you for the impetus to talk about it. I am a bit clearer on how I want to handle this problem.

02-07-2007, 10:14 AM
Stop! Stop now! My attention goes right to her angelic face as it should. It's just perfect! Wow - I love it!Can't say it any better.
Great dignity and curiosity in that little face. Good job.