The black painting is no longer all black.
Turns out it was never really as black as I thought anyway. Today I looked at it under bright sunlight and found it had more texture than I wanted: The black paint I'd mixed was in fact slightly translucent in a few spots and I could see some brushstrokes here and there, and of course there were the hairs I couldn't get out. But it was close enough for me, matte black like a cleaned chalkboard or the asphalt on a new driveway.
I did a sketch, a messy kind of thing, to give me an idea of where I wanted to go with this. But I had no way of transferring the sketch to the panel -- at least, none I could think of. The panel's black! I guess I could have used chalk or something. But I couldn't think of anything that'd really work, so I decided to freehand the painting without a sketch. By the way, check out that aluminum easel. My neighbor was throwing it out. It made me a little sad -- it looked like my neighbors had given up on their artistic career, and chucked out a whole bunch of (admittedly not very good) Bob Ross-style paintings on store-bought canvases and this easel. At least I can use it for something.
I started by mixing my color. I was looking for a kind of turquoise, an aqua kind of blue-green. I began with Gamblin Cerulean Blue Hue, which is actually (as the word hue implies) zinc white pre-mixed with a blue pigment made of copper. I added some Indian Yellow (I could've sworn I had some Hansa Yellow around here!) and Titanium White. Once I got the color I was looking for, I mixed in a fair amount of Gamsol because I wanted this to flow almost like ink.
I took the panel off of my easel. I don't feel comfortable trying to do detailed work on an easel; my hand just isn't that steady. I want to rest right on the painting surface. So I set up -- well, you can see from the photo how ad hoc my set-up is. I leaned the panel on the windowsill, using a radiator as a table, and sat on my bed. The light's good, anyway, since the window's right there. Yes, that is an iron on the right-hand side.
I sat down to paint and was shaking pretty badly. This was because, a) as I said, I don't have a very steady hand; b) my blood sugar was feeling low because of some new medicine I'm on; and c) I was nervous about freehanding. Really. The black surface of my panel stared at me, daring me to screw it up. I don't usually get nervous looking at a blank ground, but this time it got to me.
The only thing to do is jump in, though, so that's what I did. I loaded up a great cheap liner brush from the Princeton Art Company and put down some paint. After the first mark things went more smoothly and in a few minutes, I was done. And very happy. It looks almost exactly like I wanted it to. I was so fantastically ecstatic, in fact, I actually cleaned my brushes right after I was done.
This looks so perfectly like I imagined. That almost never happens.