Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Beauty of Watercolor

Salt MarshDSC_0370_186              Salt Marsh                                     watercolor                                             actual size 30″ x 22″

This is a cropped version of a piece that was inspired and developed on site in Maine a few years ago. If you have never experienced a salt marsh, do so with a bit of caution. What appears to be solid ground is often anything but solid. In a few hours all of this lovely expanse of grass will be underwater.  It all depends upon the tide. Those of you who live in areas such as this know all too well how things can change very quickly and without warning if you are unaware. It is sort like life.  My palette was purposely limited to a few predominant colors  The initial sketch in was done with a lot diluted new gamboge on a damp piece of paper.   If you look closely you can see the new gamboge peeking through a portion of the trees and even a bit in the sky. About the only section that did not get covered with color was some of the lighter reflected areas in the marsh.  This piece was executed in a fairly rapid manner. The composition or placement of the shapes was critical to the effect I was  attempting to achieve.

Experiment:

Most of the work was completed with a three inch bristle brush. Yes, I use bristle brushes at times.  I just make sure that they have never had anything other than watercolor in them.  Experimenting with various techniques and tools can help you make meaningful discoveries.  Naturally the opposite is also true.  There are times when experiments fail.  No one is perfect; if you crash and burn just chalk it up to experience. If you opt to use bristle just remember that damp watercolor paper can only stand so much scrubbing before the surface gets scarred. Use a delicate touch unless you want to create a rough surface.    Also be aware that if you disturb a portion of the wet surface; when it dries the color will be darker than the rest of the passage where the paper was not abraded.

The Next Step:

After the initial wash was dry I wet the paper again and flooded a light wash of thalo blue into the sky and down into the water area. Once that was dry the darker washes were applied. The first area of foreground was a mixture of  new gamboge and thalo blue. While portions of the wash was still wet; a bit of Winsor red was introduced in select areas to produce  the brownish effect.   After that wash dried I came in with darker washes of thalo blue, sap green and Winsor red with direct strokes on dry paper. The edges of the trees give evidence of the effect of the damp brush on dry paper. Some of the final strokes in the foreground were accomplished on dry paper.

Fairly quick execution:

Although the paper is a full sheet, the execution was pretty rapid. Painting outdoors will help motivate you to move quickly. Even though this piece was finished in studio the initial execution was influenced by the first encounter.   If you sketch and paint outside you soon realize that the lighting changes rapidly.  In fact it changes every two seconds.  It may not seem that way at certain times and at times the change is somewhat subtle. However, when you get to the end or beginning of the cycle (sunup & sundown) the change becomes more apparent. As a result you need to make quick decisions and plan accordingly.  Think about big shapes and how they interact with other shapes.  Explore the effects of color in relation to shapes. In short, keep on painting.  If the first attempt is not stellar then try again. In fact, if you are totally delighted with the results of your painting effort then chances are that you are not testing yourself enough! .  Don’t beat yourself up but do be your harshest critic.

A Novel approach with the Mr. Clean Eraser:

At times when I’m in the studio and a large wash is drying I will cruise the Internet just to see what I can see. This was one of those moments.  I happened upon a recent work by John Salminen and was admiring his approach.  Now John has a large number of DVD’s and if you really want to get into this you will want to buy some of his videos. First I would be remiss if I did not give credit to John for this discovery.  I think a workshop student introduced it to him. There was some internet postings expressing concern over the use of this product for watercolor.  A few painters were concerned that it might contain some chemical that would be harmful to watercolor paints and/or paper.  John went to the trouble to contact the manufacturer and was assured that there were no chemicals. This sponge works because of the nature of its structure.  I have used it and introduced it to my students at Artists on the Bluff.  They have been amazed at its versatility. You can use it to clean up washes and you can use it to paint.

My personal preference is to build tones and textures with multiple layers of wash. However, I’m always alert to new ways of doing things. This little sponge has merit.  There are times when all of us can use something like this. John took the initiative of contacting the manufacturer to find out something about the product. Once again, the major question was whether there was some additive in the product that would be detrimental to watercolor and/or watercolor paper.   Procter and Gamble says the unique quality is in the composition of the sponge not in any chemical additives. So  check out John’s  video and see if you can find opportunities to add this to your paint box. (An added note: I had developed a video for this sequence. Unfortunately we had serious problems with the video sequence but not with the sponge! The entire saga is too long to convey. Needless to say soft ware changed have been made so hopefully we will not have any future delays of this nature.)

Do bear in mind I am aware that this is not breaking news but for those of you who have not yet encountered its (Magic Eraser’s)  use I thought I would share.

Want to know more about watercolor glazing techniques?   Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor by Dr. Don Rankin …Purchase direct from the artist at : http://www.createspace.com/3657628

The Antique Shop a remastered DVD 55 minute watercolor demonstration by Don Rankin available at http://www.createspace.com/350893

Enjoy one on one watercolor instruction with Don Rankin on your time schedule at Udemy.com

https://www.Udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor

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