When I decided a few weeks ago to do a feature painting for my lounge to pull together all the furnishings and colours to make an art statement picture, it was good fun to look through all my inspiration photos to see what called to me as an idea. I felt that I wanted it to be of a beautiful woman, with something gold featured in it, after that it was all just an idea..until I saw something that seemed to bring all the ideas together that I wanted…
I wanted it to be a beautiful blonde woman, standing by green coloured water, holding a water jug with the water spilling out of it, with mist rising from it, a branch of a tree, and a golden circle around her head depicting the life force around her.
I drew out some ideas and was happy with my decision, I also knew that I had to make the water a duck egg colour, and there would have to be quite a bit of blue in it, and cream, and gold, to match the colours of the room.
I had a lovely gold frame, with a cream mount, so I knew what size the painting would be, 22 x 16 inches. And I decided that I would start it as watercolour as it would look fresher and brighter than acrylics, but if need be would paint over it in acrylics to bring out more of the features. As it was, I didn’t need to do any of it in acrylics..the watercolours told the tale all on their own.
I drew out the image straight onto the watercolour paper, and that took about ten hours of getting it all on, getting the fine details in, and having fun with the flowing hair of the woman. It was so important to get the drawing one hundred percent right, as the whole painting relies on it. If the drawing is right, then the painting will be right. If it has errors in the drawing, it will show in the painting.
So, once it was all drawn out, I could then start on the painting part, the fun bit! I had a scrap piece of watercolour paper clipped to my workboard on my easel with the colours I was going to use to keep me focused on the freshness of that choice, there is nothing, absolutely nothing worse than getting half way through an important painting to find that you’ve messed up the choice of colours and the whole painting looks so bad because of it you have to start again. Make sure as an artist that the decisions you’ve made are right, before you start a painting. Particularly with watercolours as they are very unforgiving!
The first thing I wanted to paint was the gold circle around the womans head (I will state clearly at this point, this is not to be considered a halo, this is not meant to be a religious painting), this was painted in gold gouache paint (which is a water based paint similar to watercolours but a bit more opaque), Whilst it was still slightly damp I painted the pale cream colours inside it and around it, so that created that so difficult to paint hint of the gold pulling out of the circle, which made it look more alive than just a block of colour.
When that I was done, I could paint the cream sky merging down into the pale green water and bring the water down to the side of the womans dress, making it darker as it got closer to her feet to show the depth of the water and make her dress stand out better. The sunlight reflecting on the water is just the bare paper showing through.
I then painted the branch infront of the womans dress, as I knew I wanted it to be basically three tones, cream at the top, mid blue for the mid tones, and dark blue going into black for the deep shadows. I painted the pale green leaves on the branch at that point too, as it had to look right before I started on the woman herself. By then everything around her had been painted, except the dark shadows under the branch.
Then I could start on the woman herself.
I painted all of her hair in one nice cream tone knowing that I would give more tones and details to her hair later on. I then painted the metal ewer that she is holding, and the deep dark water spilling out of it. I am really pleased with the look of that metal ewer, its the joy of watercolours to get that effect.
Then I painted her hands, and face. And the pink flowers in her hair are the same pink as her lips.
Then I painted the delicate bright blue of her dress, and let the folds of it flow away from her to accentuate her shape.
That left me with the bottom left hand corner of the painting under the tree branch, with no colour on it. I knew if I painted it the same colour as the dress, then her hair would lose some of the effect I wanted, so I made the decision to make that area a very wet mix of the deep gold of her her hair, mixed with a bit of deep violet, and dark greeny blue, since it all went on at the same time, it merged beautifully, and made the little twigs and bright green leaves stand out, and I picked out a few foliage shapes and let the magic of the watercolour paint form others that I didn’t plan at all – that’s why I love the serendipity of watercolours, they weave their own magic!!! And add to mine..!
At this point, I had vaguely considered the title of the painting to be “The water carrier”..but by the time I had got to this point in the painting, the whole picture was coming to life, and she had to have a name…
And this is where the whole thing clicked into place..in one of those wonderful ways that I love!
I went online to search for “Womens names” and found a brilliant website that came up with loads of names I’d never heard of before. I searched for names that were connected with “water.” And one in particular came up, a name I had never, ever, ever, heard of..
That name was “ERVETTE”.
I bet you have never heard of it either!
And the magical part was that “ERVETTE” means “Green fresh water” in Old English.
How good was that!! The name means exactly what I was painting. The painting was to hang on my English wall, and I love old history, and she was already looking unintentionally Medieval in the painting with the gold ring around her head, the long flowing dress and the simple way the branch infront of her looked.
She had a name, and it was Ervette. She had come alive. And the joke was that she was the name of the water that was featured so importantly in the painting..!
Happy artist, how I found that name, and there was only ONE name that came up..!
It was meant to be!
So, then to finish her off I painted more details into her hair, and as it flowed and merged around her dress, and the top of the branch of the tree.
She’s done. And I am so pleased with her. She is called “Ervette of the green fresh water”.
She will pull the whole room together as she hangs on the wall..and I can look at her daily…and that gold circle depicting her life force with catch the sunlight during the day, and the artificial light at night, and any candle light that is lit near her..it will make it glow!!