Date: August 25, 2006
This photograph doesn’t look like much — partly the problem of distortion of colours due to the flash — but the background is complete here. It also doesn’t look like much work has been done, but this represents the completion of a couple of days of work. The background required a lot of work, and in fact the most work of the entire painting. The paper was wet completely, then painted over in a uniform wash. It had to dry for a couple of hours, and then another wash was done over top of that. At each stage, the paper had to be completely wet, even if the colour was being built up only in one area. And so on, for about eight different steps until the background had reached the intended depth and richness needed for the foggy background and atmosphere. You can see that the white of the paper was spared in areas where it would later be needed for the bird and the ships.
This stage shows how patience is necessary in painting, perhaps especially in watercolours, when one can go through long intervals where the painting doesn’t look like much. In fact, at this stage of the painting, my daughter declared it to be “boring and ugly.” But with different layers of foreground and middle ground added to this background, I knew that the painting would eventually lose the “ugly” description at least.