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If I ever get a tattoo, it will be on my wrist. Probably never will… but it would have to do with a little magic dragonfly.

An idea floated into my head of a quiet painting of a girl with a tattoo on her wrist. She would be day dreaming with her head on her arms with her wrist art just a part her now.

Time for the research. I have used my self, looking into a mirror as a model for my work. I have looked at magazine models to study correct anatomy. A living human model is the very best way for me to capture the nuances of the body- but a person is not usually available to pose for an hour or four for me! Next best is to grab my camera and ask a friend to pose for some photos.

I took about 15 photos of my friend in different positions and from different angles. One of them worked well for me and I used it as a reference photo.


I made the sketch on arches watercolor paper. The I used masking fluid to block out white areas to reflect the strong light source behind the model. The masking fluid appears as the grey areas.


I wet the areas around the model with water. Next starting with my lightest colors I dropped in the golds and lemon yellows. Right next to the golds I dabbed in concentrated blues and crimsons. These formed many more colors with their primary color attributes- turquoise and purples made themselves. When I create a background on a wet surface, I super concentrate my paints so that they will remain rich in color when they dry.


I try to paint from background to foreground, though jumping back and forth can be necessary. The arm is on top of the shirt, so the shirt was painted first, the face on the hand, the hair over the arm- the one underneath is painted first. Even the tattoo could not be painted on until the wrist beneath it was formed.  I stated with the golds of the background reflecting on the subject, then added burnt sienna and mauves. After one area was painted I would shadow the area beneath it. The masking was removed, then the white edges left were softened with color and gentle brush scrubbing.


Daydreamer, watercolor on paper, 16 x 12 inches

The eyes were next, making sure I shared their whites and left lighter areas in the iris to show the depth. The only true white in the eye is the reflection of light spot. I decided to leave the white steaks left by masking the hair because I liked them unblended, thinking they added some interest to the painting. Last I custom designed a tattoo and wrapped it around the wrist. The girl’s skin has been glazed or layered with paint washes at least four times. Each time it dried it appeared too light. So I added to it looked right to me.

My art students sometimes are amused by how I paint some colors into people’s skin and hair. Why did you make her eyebrow green? they ask, or why is her skin so yellow?

My response is this- because it looked right to me, and I wanted to.

Enjoy your art!

Todays shout goes to Claire Carlson, a talented water colorist who also happens to be my mother-

facebook art page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Artist-Claire-Carlson/135715983173713

prints, cards and gifts at http://www.zazzle.com/cmcarlson