Tree of Life – how a painting is born, part 3 1


after several studies in my sketchbook, I finally got tired and decided to go for action. you can’t waste a lot of time in studies, or you’ll go nuts. to find the perfect images it’s an illusion, for you’ll evolve, change your tastes and style. if you spend too much time looking for perfection, you’ll never complete a work. besides, the final result will never match exactly what you’ve planned. things go changing as long as the colors come; you add something here, you take something there, you’ll never know what you are going to face when you go for the canvas or paper sheet adventure.

as I am doing a quasi “painting reality show” here, I thought that would be a good thing to talk a little about the materials I am using for this work. my support this time is the beloved illustration board.


that’s what I use when I’m working on more complex stuff. my brand of choice is Crescent, which is an affordable good quality stuff. it’s just perfect for the ones who use tons of pigment and hundreds of watercolor layers, which would deform any regular paper. another advantage: the board stands the most hardcore techniques, specially when you need to lift the pigment off after making a mistake or getting an unsatisfactory result and want to do it again.


on my side table I have Winsor & Newton watercolor tubes and pans, number 00 to 5 round brushes, flat brushes for washes and my precious Chinese bamboo brushes; two jars of clean water, pallete, pencils, mechanical pencils, stumps and different types of erasers; and my best friend, the paper towel.

I start adding new elements to the sketch…

… a fetus on the basis figure, right on the womb. the lower triangle vortex points right there – manifestation of the Divine in the physical plane. a spiral shapes the form of the womb and fetus – the golden spiral of the Sacred Geometry, symbol of the Cosmos harmony and precision. the womb is surrounded by a wide petals flower, which will possibly be a lotus, I still don’t know. from the flower drops run down toward the ground – which I’ll represent in one of the adittional panels, now named South panel, below this one, which is the central panel. a curious thing: I draw the drops without realizing that they are pointed downward, as if they are coming from the ground, and not the opposite, as they are supposed to be. that reminds me some images of the XVIII tarot arcane, The Moon, in which the Moon itself seems to be sucking drops out of the ground. since the South panel will bring a representation of the Moon, I have the impression that more stuff will arise from that!

… branches, leaves, abstractions, spirals, spirals.

now it’s time to solve the problems that appeared since the work took a different direction. as I started to have different ideas when the main image had already been built on my definitive support, I have to make some adaptations ou I’ll have to redo the drawing. but the thing reveals not as hard as I thought it would be.

problem 1 – composition of the six-pointed star. after several calculations the star ends up fitting well the work, although its sides are not that exact. but that’s not a problem, since the difference is not so perceptible. to solve the visibility of the star, I decide to build the triangles that form it using spirals and flowers, giving to it an organic quality that harmonizes with the object (tree) and dispenses the mathematical precision. I think that in the picture below you can have an idea (I intensified the contrast to turn visible the lines that form the triangles, still too light. they are traced over the figures.)


problem 2 – placement of the triangles in the center of the picture. the star needs here to be more or less centralized, in order to bring balance to the composition. I can’t do it without deforming the triangles; then, the solution I find is to eliminate one inch on the left of the painting. I stick some tape to delimit my working area. in order to do not have to get my board off the wooden one that works as a support, I decide that I’m going to cut the painting off after it’s done, which is dangerous because if I make some mistake in the cut, bye bye painting. but since I’ve done that before with no problem at all, I am confident that everything will be alright this time also (gulp!)

extra tape stuck toward the right, marking one inch less on my working area.

the final touch before starting the watercolor is to age one of the women. I want to give to the figures that Triple Goddess character I’ve mentioned before – Maiden, Mother and Crone. I pick the one at the right, that since the beginning looks older than the others. it’s curious how she is the only one who shows more of her own face.

work in progress: Tree of Life

work in progress: Tree of Life

the final work, before the watercolor:

work in progress: Tree of Life

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