Lesson in use of color: Angel on Violin ~ 3 ways

Work in progress
Work in progress

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Here, I show the finished piece 3 ways: in full color (with work in progress), B&W, & sepia. Originally, I planned to paint in just two colors – yellow & gray/silver tones. Instead, I used full color. I like seeing the 2 other versions for how well I captured value tones, as you can see in the B&W and sepia versions.

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Backstory on the subject matter: All this watercolor painting started with “The Artists’ Den.” There’s me on the paintbrush (and sometimes organ) and my sweetie on his guitar. My mom had given us a silver and gold cherub statue playing the violin, which sits on top of a speaker in the Artists’ Den and inspired this piece tonight.The joining of heaven and earth, with music as the bridge. The angel is soft against the strong instrument, the colors get more earthy as the eye moves down the figure. Candle wax created resist in the sky and around the figure.

Here’s the finished piece, with adjustments I made to the stool (it was too red) and enhancements to the face…

watercolor, gouache and graphite - Angel on Violin
Done, but … needs cropping!

LESSON IN USE OF COLOR:  My preference is for the sepia version. Maybe this is why … I’ve read that beginner watercolorists tend to make the mistake of using too many colors – it can confuse the eye and make the piece look “too busy.” However, in a recent issue of Watercolor magazine, one of the winners used a cacophony of colors and came in second place (here is the winning artwork). It all depends on how the color and elements are handled. In my piece, I am not satisfied with the colors. I’d like the piece better with the bottom cropped off. Now I’ve eliminated the green and the large colorful drum stool the angel was sitting on, and the piece feels lighter and better to me. Your thoughts?

Finished piece  - Angel on Violin, watercolor with graphite and gouache. By C. Maniglia 2015
Finished piece – Angel on Violin, watercolor with graphite and gouache. By C. Maniglia 2015

I read a famous watercolorist from the late 1800’s would routinely crop his works if he felt the need – and I feel the need to crop. So I’ll settle on the top image as the finished final piece.


17 thoughts on “Lesson in use of color: Angel on Violin ~ 3 ways

  1. I love this. The brushstrokes draw me in and I don’t mind the whole color one at all! Both are beautiful and I think you did a great job of getting this from a small statue!

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  2. I think it is a great lesson! The sepia and b&w are the value studies, and in their own right beautiful, but I also like the color, has a different feeling to it altogether.


  3. Thanks, I agree – the color one bothers me a lot. I must remember to go with first instincts, and I should have done it in a limited palette. Live and learn ~


    1. Thanks, L – I reposted with sepia and B&W – and also color adjustment to stool, face and hair detail. This feels a little to “heavy” for my taste, so I want to do some light, feathery stuff next.

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      1. OK, I’m glad you alerted me, so I could come back and see. I definitely agree with you; although I really liked the original painting, I do think the crop serves your subject better. The face and the violin (IMO) are the focal point, and the stool, although lovely, competes for attention due to the color and texture. So I do think cropping that area out enhances the piece as a whole. I’m also really liking the loose feeling of this, because it gives me a feeling of music, and I can feel the angel’s joy & movement in the playing. Very nice.

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      2. Thank you ~ yes, cropping was the right move. Next I shall cut the paper. It’s cool we can experiment digitally. If the piece is kept whole, I can print out a sepia version as an art print – so lots of options in this new digital age of art. Old subject, with high-tech options. Thanks for commenting on the loose feel too. Have a great day! You mentioned tunes in your journal page post – music and art go hand in hand.

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      3. I don’t know how to do anything digitally, but clearly I need to learn. So much about art I need to learn!

        Music is another big part of my heart. I’ve played violin, flute and guitar, but other than playing with the organ at my parents’ house, I never had lessons. I agree; they go together really well!

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