natural closeup: macro painting

Beauty of the Deep (1999)
Capturing large images such as architecture and landscapes tends to be more technically forgiving; the smaller scale tends to make any flaws there might have been disappear.  But wonder can be found in even the smallest of things: the iridescent scales of a butterfly’s wing, the myriad reflections in a fly’s eye, the veins running through a leaf.  The ability to see such images at life-size–or several times larger than life–is incredible, and offers a unique opportunity for exploring shape and color that would not otherwise be possible.  It also tends to lend itself well to my particular style of painting, working with large washes of color. These are some of my early forays into the world of macro.
My first watercolor macro was also an experiment in underwater painting, where the focus is primarily on the interaction of transparency layers and light.  I was the lucky student to draw jellyfish out of the hat when we did our macro studio, and while I had several reference photographs to work from there was a considerable amount of trial and error involved in trying to capture so many details and that much variation in color and transparency on such a scale.  Beauty was constructed on a foundation of black mat board, using alternating layers of white and transparent colors.  The shimmering highlights of the cap and outer tentacles were added in using very fine brushes and metallic pencils.
A later reworking of the image in Photoshop transformed the swirling tentacles into the patterns of the cosmos and the universe giving birth. 
Darkness Unfurling (2003)

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