Today’s watercolor experiment:

Today I began with a light wash of English yellow. I prepared too much of it from a previous painting and had enough left over to use.

I broke away from my habit of applying swooshes of color across the page in arcs and used a number 16 round brush to outline a closed figure in cerulean blue. Giving the outline a little personality, I varied the curves and decided to suggest two faces, each looking away from each other, toward the edge of the paper.

In keeping with the basic yellow theme, I used gamboge and Indian yellow to accentuate areas within the outline.

Watercolor - Abstract: Yellow Background Blue Outline of Two-Faced Janus

I thought about including details within the area enclosed by blue, but instead proceeded to soak the paper once again and work with swaths of color.

I’m trying to exercise some of the colors that haven’t been too active on my palette. It seemed that phthalo green would be appropriate to try as a border, so I applied it to the edge of the paper, outside the blue line.

After drying the paper in the bright sun (which seems to avoid the warpiness that happens when I use an air dryer), I re-wet the paper and used peacock blue (Holbein), to accentuate the outline. It happened that the profile on the right became more of a silhouette than an outline.

Once more, after drying, I applied a wash of viridian green to the edges and laid down a cadmium red streak from upper left to lower right.

Watercolor - Abstract: Yellow Background Blue Outline of Two-Faced Janus with Green Border

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


While I was in the process of painting, I knew that figure of Janus had two faces (I watch a lot of movies with the Janus logo in the beginning credits). It was serendipitous to fine, upon more research, that Janus is the Roman god of transitions, beginnings and endings. Once face points to the past and the other to the future.

The Janus silhouette, facing to the right is looking down. It is contains more blue than the other  face. I would hope that this is the face looking backward, and that the future-looking face is one anticipating a less-blue, more happy future.

I’m not sure what the red line means, except it seems to work as a visual element connecting the two faces internally.

Perhaps this is a self portrait, an unintentional one.

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