Sunday, February 24, 2019

Ambolena Layers 8 - 9: Almost went Appaloosa

The second of my three finishing-posts on Ambolena, my NaMoPaiMo pony, might look like there is only one story.  But this middle wave includes everything from her sock to the threshhold of her final and greatest transfiguration (the Gilding of the Lily).  When I started I had no idea of the wild ride in store -- Brasenose was not like this! The bulk of what I've learned on her, errors to triumph, is what I want to cover here.
Layer 6, offside
On Feb 20, I wrote:
"I'm plunging blind in a parallel Universe.  I've never heard of anyone doing what I'm contemplating now; but I'm a tackmaker, I confess, 'tis not so strange.  It'll just require a huge amount of skill...   .... The idea is to dissolve the pastels in rubbing alcohol and paint them on, using alcohol as the medium [I meant solvent].  You gotta work blindingly fast.  The strength, or density, of each brushful changes by the second as the alcohol evaporates out of it.  You have mere moments of workability....  This is in NONE of the tutorials...!!  This would only occur to a tackmaker who'd spent 40 years working w/ dye and about 20 years mixing her own dyes.  
I did use dye on Brasenose.  Remember?  It wasn't so hot.  But now...  we're desperate..."
          "The legs were a good teaching field, except I don't quite like the purple note.  Not sure where it came from:  Black + brown + gold shouldn't be purple!!  But "interference gold" was in there.  Maybe we should leave that out,..."  

This was the state of the legs after my first attempts at alcohol-painting:
It worked!  The alcohol didn't evaporate that quickly.  I still had to refill the dish twice, but the edges of the brushload had a pleasing habit of melting into their surroundings.  I loved the darker color, except there was a mulberry sheen to it.  This camera doesn't really pick it up; still, you can see the difference at the transition zone.  Currently I credit this to the action of the interference-gold Pearl Ex.  I later mixed up a new batch of dark for the points without it, and the purple was absent:  case closed.

While letting the points dry on the 20th, I did her sock.  I had long known I didn't want socks on the front legs.  Magnolia/Ambolena's pose makes the most of her legs, and white emphasizes a limb, making it look bigger and longer.
Just like Brasenose's, her sock was a simple affair of Gesso coated with pale pink nail polish.  This gave the sock a lifelike glow as well as protecting it.  (Growth rings, or ermine spots, at this stage, were as far beyond my skill (& desire) as the moon.) 

I also dipped a brush in alcohol then straight into the copper Pearl Ex, and annointed her muzzle in honor of her sire.  Instant cute!
What I didn't realize until later was that this copper functioned as pinking for the nose.

After Layer 6, I was unhappy with the state of the top of her rump.  My reference photo clearly showed dapples there, as well as a darkness equal to that of the withers and neck, if not more so.
photo by Nadja Tarasova   'Riza'
The success with the Shoulder Spot spurred me, rashly, to take off most of the pastel from the top of the rump.  I'm not sure whether I used sandpaper or alcohol.  The shape of the muscles could partly hide it from the world, but this is one step I regretted later.
It was here I thought 'I could have me an Appaloosa.'
Although she would have been supercute, my devotion to Akhal Tekes was strong enough to hold me steady.  I alcohol-painted the same layers I'd tried with the Shoulder Spot.
Layer  7, rear elevation
But it didn't really work.
Layer 8, rear quarter
My ability to match colors was nowhere near what the situation required.  I would spend the rest of NMPM trying to fix this.  I only succeeded due to another mistake - !! 

I should mention the dapples.  I did indeed try the 'removal' method, with a cut eraser, and they were mildly successful.  If you look closely at her upper barrel, you can see them, in miniature.
Layer 7, nearside
In stamping a Q-tip on her rump, trying to darken it with pastel powder, I uncovered a better way for me to do dapples.  This method worked beautifully on her withers.  I am proud of those, even though such a dark patch re-emphasizes the curve of her posture (as if it weren't enough already!).  In the end I was swept away by other temptations and dapples ceased to attract my attention...

I also read Mink's tutorial on Shading the Face, used last time, and tried it with Ambolena.  I had kind of left this too late, but some of the highlighting worked.
Layer 8, near, before hooves
Hooves and chestnuts came next, the last steps before transfiguration.  I mixed up Earth 155, 165, 181 and some gray (which has no wrapper or number).  It was too green so I added my earlier dark mix of black, dark brown and gold.  This was so successful I did all the dark places again, painting in alcohol.  I used its dissolving aspects to lighten the upper parts of the hooves, near the coronet.  Afterwards a coat of clear nail polish helped (see below).

Absurdedly I have only one shot of Layer 9, with its transformative black
Layer 9, midway through the black
By now, late on the 22nd - Friday - I was reckless.  I thought she only had eyes and tail to go, and opened the Edge Cote.  This is a plasticky water-base paint designed to protect and color compressed-smooth leather edges.  I was thoroughly familiar with it and trusted it.  The switch from pastel powders to alcohol-pastels easily morphed to this liquid acrylic.

"The advantage of Edge Cote is it can be wiped off.  It can be thinned with water, like watercolor.  Here is the black I was missing!!  It brings risk of too sharp a contrast w/ the rest of the body's texture,... but oh, the snap of her now!!  It's like she's popped into life..."

The above photo tells the story.  I did her ear edges, tail, eyes, and the challenging knee and hock shadings with my black Edge Cote.  I was on a roll.  It was at this time,
in the depths of Friday night,
that the miracle occurred.
But that's for the next post.

1 comment:

  1. I've never tried alcohol painting. Is this an extension from your experience with tack making?