Category Archives: Uncategorized
The top image is the current revised, updated edition of Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol.1 by Dr. Don Rankin. Most of you know that is me of course. This re-issue was published in 2011 and carries a completely different ISBN number than the original 1986 edition. You can see the current number posted in the caption below the cover shot. Due to popular demand this book was revised and updated with some new tutorials. The story of this revised edition is a bit long and I’ll not bore you with all of the details. I was blessed with about 5 books being published by Watson-Guptill Publications. Mastering Glazing Techniques was a big hit and was credited with being the first authoritative book ever written on watercolor glazing techniques. Other watercolor books followed in the series. Several foreign language editions were also produced. Due to their popularity it was decided to halt publication of the English editions for about 6 months and produce a large volume anthology of all of the books in one large edition. The idea was to produce a greater demand. Mastering Glazing marketing & publication was halted along with three other editions.
My editor left the company with a promise that our project was safe. Not so.
In the meantime I had resolved to not write any more books and to spend my time painting. Very soon this edition was being offered on line at enormous markup. I began to get cards, letters, long distance telephone calls and finally many e-mails asking if I would re-publish.
Never say never:
After so many requests and a number of conversations with associates I decided to re-publish with revisions. I could say more but hopefully you get the idea.
Many of you have run into frustration over confusion at Amazon.com. when you go to look for the new book. In a lot of cases you get the picture of the old edition and it may have a tiny link to a paper back edition. That will or should lead you to the new book.
Even worse you may scroll down a line or two and see the brown cover book for sale at prices of more than $50. Those are resellers, they are not retail. They sell it for $50 and I get a $2 royalty! Sorry if that sounds petty but it is true.
I’m not angry mind you. That is how the market works and I am glad that there is a market. But some of you have contacted me asking why the price was not in agreement with prices I have quoted. So in self defense I am sharing this with you. I am grateful for all book sales but once again BUYER BEWARE!
Price still the same:
If you decided to buy, you have two options; you can use my direct link: http://www.createspace.com/3657628 and the book should be about $34.95. The publisher will not allow a lower price.
Feel free to go to Amazon.com, select “Books” (yes, it seems to make a difference on some servers) use the ISBN NUMBER in the search: ISBN9781463749033. You may get a prompt telling you that no such number exists but alongside or right below you will see the picture of the book. Go figure! Amazon will often offer the book for $31.95.
There You Have it:
Hopefully this post will answer some of your recent questions. I have tried to simplify a long tangled story. I hope I haven’t belabored the point.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Again I thank all of you for your support.
An art dealer made a strong suggestion to me a few weeks ago. He urged me to do a complete inventory of all of my paintings both sold and unsold. ALL meant going back, way back into the sixties. It was a daunting task but it is now done. As I posted earlier I had been remiss in not keeping up with my work as thoroughly as I should. Along the way in this journey I had some pleasant surprises and was forced to review a lot of older sketch books that I had forgotten.
Class Demonstration: Simplicity
One of those items is the subject of my posting. Standing Nude was included in the updated, revised edition of Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol.1. This is a small painting that was done for one of my life classes. It is a small piece yet it conveys a powerful effect. The piece is deceptively simple. I’ll also confess that I was very fortunate that it clicked so easily. I have always believed that students deserve complete honesty. I’ll explain. It is my opinion that students need to see an instructor work. It can be nerve wracking but there are times when we just bomb out and the demo just doesn’t work. OOPS! Can we say AWKWARD?
Doing an impromptu full figure can be a dangerous choice. Thankfully, this one worked beautifully in a very short period of time. Everything just clicked into place.
All too often watercolor students think that watercolor glazing techniques are slow and tedious. Well, they don’t have to be. The choice is yours. The work can be bright and spontaneous; it all depends upon you and your subject.
The first color, Winsor Violet, was used as an under painting or grisalle. The complement, Indian Yellow, was washed over the dried under painting. Nothing fancy, very simple, yet the effect is very profound. As I stated earlier this piece was a part of a life class demonstration. We were working with the wonders of color and complexion. At the time we were discussing the Royal Academy method of dividing complexions into various color schemes or sub-groups.
While one may not want to paint by formula the basic rudiments are very helpful for a foundation. It may be a surprise for some that with this method blondes, red haired models and some ethnic groups are often depicted with the fewest number of colors while brunettes have as many as seven (7) key colors.
I discuss these formulas as guidelines for those seeking to gain a foundation. Hopefully no one will allow the suggestion to become a strait jacket or rigid law of operation. Always let your model and your perception guide you.
Careful under painting is the secret:
The secret to success is careful under painting. What do I mean? Think transparent. The early strokes will make a great impact upon the final piece. Always remember that the white of your paper is your brightest bright. Consequently you want to make sure to avoid painting the brightest highlight areas. Some call it “saving your whites”. No matter what you call it keep your painting fresh. Be judicious but not uptight as you apply your first washes. Keep in mind that the initial washes will shine through and influence your finished painting. I hate to use the analogy, but think of a monochromatic photograph. In a properly lit and exposed photograph one can see a variety of values. Think about this when you are painting. Let your washes blend and merge with a delicacy that gives the illusion of flesh. The graded washes of violet are almost invisible in some areas while the Indian Yellow was applied very sparingly. In this interplay of color combination the colors tend to lose some of their individuality and merge to produce the illusion of living, glowing flesh.
Careful observation is the beginning and is of utmost importance to a successful painting. Take time to really observe your subject. For some of us this may take longer than it does for others. Find your own pace. Strengthen yourself to avoid being intimidated by what you think others are doing. Be true to yourself. After all you can’t really be anyone else, now can you?
You can see the date on this painting. It may have been painted before some of you were born. In the ensuing years some painting formulations have changed. You may or may not get the same effect from brand to brand. The answer is EXPERIMENT. All color in this depiction was produced with only the two colors mentioned. What is the point of the post? Open your eyes to the possibility of the color combinations you have. Take the time to play with your colors. Change the ratio of color mixes in order to see what happens.
Today I use M. Graham Indian Yellow and Winsor Violet. In the 90’s I may have used Grumbacher Indian Yellow or something else. As I get older some things dim in my memory. Regardless all sorts of color possibilities exist. Do you know what your colors can do for you?
You can see more of Don’s work at http://www.donrankinfineart.com
Want to know more about watercolor glazing techniques?
Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol.1 by Dr. Don Rankin :Order direct at http://www.createspace.com/3657628
Video Tutorials available Study with Don on-line via http://www.udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor
Enjoy a remastered classic now in DVD: The Antique Shop a best selling full watercolor demonstration with a tutorial http://www.createspace.com/350893
Like us on Facebook: Don Rankin, Mastering Glazing Techniques
23 Years Already?
When I was 18, the thought of a 20 year career in the military seemed like an eternity. Although I never made a career of it, at that time 20 years seemed to be so long. Today, as I look back, it seems the 23 years of teaching in one school is like a vapor. Wow! It all went so fast. A lot of things seem to change almost daily. The attitudes regarding painting and teaching in many schools seems to have swapped sound foundation for flashy contrivance.
I am old enough to have known some of the so-called greats. They all had one universal tenet. They stressed the importance of learning to draw. While some come to it more easily than others; it is still a skill to be honed. Don’t misunderstand; learning about design and understanding color are also extremely important. However, drawing is the bridge between that vision in your soul and being able to share a bit of it with others. The most frustrating thing is to have a wonderful vision and lack the physical ability to bring it out to share.
A Tribute to My Students:
My classes for Spring 2014 are over and grades are posted. Many of my students are headed home for summer or to various locations for work and/or relaxation. I want to take a moment to feature some of those who have done outstanding work. Not every student in the class is featured. Unfortunately not every watercolor got photographed. These works are the result of approximately 14 weeks of class, meeting formally twice each week for about 2 1/2 hours per session. Also most of the students featured are sophomores. For every student this was their first class in watercolor. The teaching model I use is based upon a time tested approach. I’m not interested in producing clones. Rather, I’m interested in producing energetic, dedicated students who aren’t afraid to take basic principles and develop their personal strengths. Toward this end I spend the first two weeks of the beginning semester demonstrating basic principles. I work on small easy to execute projects that may take up 30 minutes of the class period; sometimes longer depending upon the students’ grasp. The students watch and listen. Then they take the rest of the time doing the exercises while I am available for comment and critique. After about two weeks they begin developing their own works. Many work on quarter sheet sizes at first. They often get the best results using a 140 lb. (300 gsm.) 14″ x 17″ D’arches cold press watercolor block. Some use individual sheets but at this stage most find the block to be very convenient.
For additional instruction, I show examples of personal paintings in progress that are usually stapled to a plywood board to prevent ripples. In the very beginning a number of students find it more convenient to use the block since it is lighter and often easier than carrying a stretched paper to class. Regardless, they all get the drill about the proper use of a cold water soak to allow the sheet to become pliable (al dente) enough to attach to a board.
Introducing some of my students from the Spring 2014 class:
Once again I want to stress that none of these students have had any previous watercolor experience. I am very pleased with their progress and I hope this spotlight will help to encourage all the members of the class to continue working with the medium. They have given me a great retirement gift because they performed so well and were so eager to learn. Thanks so much.
A Friend, 20″ x 28″image, 140lb. cold press D’Arches
Trevelyn enjoys working from actual models and like most younger students often uses her Smart phone to take reference photos as well. Back in the studio she likes to create a light pencil grid on her watercolor paper and develop her drawing from study sketches and the images she has captured on her phone or camera.
Kyle demonstrated a great deal of progress in this class. Unfortunately I was not able to get more examples of his work. During Spring Break Kyle had an opportunity to really work on his watercolor technique. Things began to make sense and click for him. I look forward to seeing more of his work. He produced a number of promising watercolors.
Figure Study, 16″ x 14″ 140lb. Kilamanjaro
Emily enjoys a wide variety of subjects and has demonstrated an ability to work with powerful darks as well as soft neutrals. As many of you will know getting clean washes in very dark passages is often a tremendous challenge for a beginning watercolor student. Emily does it well. I have encouraged her to work more from personal observation/ life. I think she will do well.
Ann Martin Foley:
Deer, 12″ x 14″ Image, 140lb. cold press Kilamanjaro
Ann produced some very striking floral pieces as well as these two works. Unfortunately no images were available for this publication. Like many in the class, Ann is a Graphic Design major and makes good use of negative space in her work. The young fawn is a good example.
Grace’s Barn, 17″ x 14″ 140 lb. D’Arches watercolor block
Grace likes to work with subjects she knows. I’ve entitled the barn as Grace’s Barn. She may not like that but it was her first watercolor. It was inspired by the brief snow storm we had and classes were cancelled. The barn is near her home and served as a perfect inspiration. Chief is a close up portrait of her dog. It was painted on Kilamanjaro watercolor paper. The original displays a lot of subtle yellow and grey tones as well as some strong dark passages.
Drunken Elephant, 17″ x 14″ cold press D’Arches
Lindsey enjoys painting animals and in some cases incorporating elements of the constellation. Drunken Elephant was inspired by an article she saw depicting wild elephants gorging on fermented berries and getting falling down drunk. Seems even elephants have a taste for the fermented fruit of the vine! Lindsey spent a great deal of time on an intricate study of Russian architecture in anticipation of her summer work in a Russian orphanage. She was successful in selling some of her paintings to help pay her expenses.
Merrell does excellent work. Unfortunately the exposure on these two images do not do justice to her painting skill. Rather than leave them out I have chosen to show them. The actual colors are very vibrant and fresh. The portrait of her brother is far more vibrant than the image we see here. While it is never professionally advisable to show images that one must explain I made the decision to show what was available rather than leave her out. If I am able to get better shots I’ll swap them out.
Melissa is also a Graphic Design major. As I recall this was one of her first major attempts in class. I hope she will continue to work on watercolor in spite of her heavy Graphic Design schedule.
Jasmine has exhibited a lot of energy and a lot of talent. Her use of strong dark passages is not something one regularly sees in a beginning watercolor painter. However, she handled it well.
I can think of no better way to say farewell to the Samford School of the Arts than to spotlight a number of my students. To all of you who helped make this last class a success; I thank you. I look forward in the coming years of seeing more of your work as you mature. I take pride in the fact that you all exhibited such a high degree of proficiency in one short semester.
Honestly, the word makes me nervous when I talk to students. I’ll explain. My career began as an oil painter. We cut our own stretcher strips and we STRETCHED our own canvas. Many of you know the drill. In that case one physically stretches the canvas in order to have a taut surface. With watercolor paper we merely allow it to shrink after we carefully attach it to either a plywood board or gator board. As the paper dries it contracts naturally and if we have been faithful to carefully and gently blot the air bubbles out and straighten the paper; we get a nice smooth surface. The canvas is pretty tough. The paper is very vulnerable when it is wet and it scars easily. So caution is the watch word unless you don’t mind bruised surfaces.
How to Prepare Papers:
I hope the people at Ruscombe Mill will not take offense if I quote them directly regarding this matter. They are the makers of extremely fine hand made watercolor paper.
The finished paper will almost always not be flat due to the nature of the drying and sizing process. The surface finish may also be exaggerated: this problem is overcome by stretching the paper before starting to work on it. This process will render the surface flat with the appropriate texture and minimize any tendency for the sheet to buckle when washes are applied.
The paper should be soaked in cold water for between 5 to 15 minutes according to its weight. (Sponging the surface is not recommended since it may damage the size and does not produce an even moisture.) Holding the paper by the corners, allow the surface water to drain and lay the sheet on a flat board. It should be secured by strips of pre-wetted, gummed tape, about 2 inches wide across ( all around the edges of the paper so that the sheet is firmly attached to the board) the paper and the board. The gummed tape should be firmly pressed to ensure that it is securely glued to all edges of the sheet and the board. The paper must be allowed to dry naturally and slowly: heavier weights may require 48 hours to dry and in no case should the drying process be accelerated.
Properly executed you will then have a drum-tight, tough surfaced, flat sheet of the correct surface texture which will encourage smooth brush work.The toughness of these papers will support the lifting off of washes as well as other techniques such as scratching and scrubbing.
-Ruscombe Mill Instruction Sheet.
I make some alterations to this directive in that I prefer to staple my soaked paper to a board. There are times when I have a work framed with all of the deckles showing. Often the staple holes are either not noticed or they add to the irregularity of the sheet. My purpose for including the above directions is because they can apply to almost any watercolor sheet. Unfortunately some sheets will still buckle AFTER the dried, finished work has been removed from the board. This is a new challenge.
In an earlier post I commented on the problems with some D’Arches sheets and the performance of Kilamanjaro. Now that all of the testing is done; I can say the class consensus was unanimous. ALL pf my students preferred Kilamanjaro. Even when they painted on it without stretching, it did not ripple to a large degree. If you paint you know most of us have an independent streak.
To that end when teacher says you must prepare your paper there will be those independent souls who have to test it for themselves. I don’t begrudge them that spirit! I want them to be able to stand on their own.
Textbook used in class:
Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol 1 by Dr. Don Rankin available at http://www.createspace.com/3657628
Study on line with Don Rankin:
Now you can study the basics of watercolor glazing on your schedule at your own pace. The video tutorials reflect the basic lessons found in the book.
The Antique Shop: a remastered classic of a full watercolor demo available at :http://www.createspace.com/350893
YOU CAN CHECK OUT ALL THE VARIETIES OF KILAMANJARO WATERCOLOR PAPER AT:
For quite a while I have been fielding questions and listening to various watercolor painters who were /are venting their frustration about a very well known French brand of watercolor paper. In 140 lb as well as 300 lb weight, painters are complaining about D’Arches buckling before, during and after painting. In some cases it has buckled even while it was been stapled down. Many are experiencing buckling while it is still in the pack and after it has been mounted, allowed to dry and then removed for matting. The manufacturer’s specialists have offered various suggestions. So far none of the suggestions apply.
I always love the way solutions often present themselves. A few day ago an old friend called and while we were catching I brought up current paper and brush woes. Joe offered a possibility. I have 15 watercolor students in my Spring semester watercolor class. Joe Miller, most of you know about Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, proposed a test. I readily agreed. I provided each student, most of whom were frustrated with the buckling paper, with a sheet of a new paper that was also 140lb. cold press.. I did not reveal the name to them. I just told them that I wanted them to try this new paper. Immediately I got questions about the name of the paper, etc. I replied that I would answer all of their question but first I wanted them to paint on the paper and give me their opinions. All of them began to paint. It was interesting that some of them felt of the paper and said “Hey” this is really good paper isn’t it?” I withheld my responses until AFTER they had finished layering and splashing washes. Everyone was very happy with the paper.The interesting thing from a teaching standpoint was the respect they gave these new sheets. They began to develop sketches saying I want to do something really special on a piece of paper like this.
Now they know:
Yesterday, after a couple of days with the new paper, I answered all of their questions and they know that the mystery paper is Kilamanjaro. This is a proprietary paper made for Cheap Joe by the Fabriano Company in Italy. I had said before that it was good paper. Now we have an entire class that is sold on the product. Joe it looks like you hit a home run!
Here are some of their collective comments:
1. No one disliked the paper.
2. Everyone liked the clean white appearance of the sheet.
3. All students liked the “feel” of the paper and its ability to take color.
4. Almost all exclaimed that it did not buckle.
5. The paper held up with every technique that was tried.
No one mounted the sheet in any way. Some worked large areas of wash while others used multiple glazes. That is quite a feat for 140 lb. (300 gsm) paper. One student did soak his paper briefly and then laid it down on his board. It worked nicely and stayed flat.
So if you are looking for a solution to your paper worries check out Kilamanjaro from Cheap Joe’s
The Tunnel, to be featured in Level II on-line Udemy course
Sorry for the delay in posting a new article. Health issues have intervened but I am now back on track…for the moment. My on-line course with Udemy.com is attracting students. In fact, we are about to launch “Level II”. It will be an on-line tutorial of one painting from start to finish. The drying time has been removed but the basic critical steps are recorded. While it is not productive to record every step we have sought to preserve the key moments.
Subject matter: Process and Purpose
As I have stated before everyone is unique and we approach our work in different ways. No one can truly be anything other than themselves. While we may admire the work of others and often be inspired; at the end of the day we need to find our own way of working. There is no question that we can gain valuable insight in process from observing the works of others. However, the bigger question is to what purpose do we observe and absorb? Various writers have elaborated upon these two words noting the intertwined relationship between them. Consider it simply as a part of developing a painting or completing any task. Perhaps you would prefer to call it putting ideas into action. All successful art has a concept. It may be the play of light upon a given object or the interplay of a selected color range. Once the art concept is conceived, if it is to be realized, then comes the necessity or process of developing it. This is one of the reasons I always encourage my students to develop sketches with loose color studies. The ones that follow the advice have a greater success ratio than the ones who don’t.
Why do they have a better success ratio? I think it is because sketches help get the process started. Putting marks on paper begins the cycle that brings us forward in the march to realize our goal. This previous statement is only valid provided the person making the marks has some idea regarding design, color harmony, etc. I interject this because regrettably we have too many voices today espousing “do your own thing” without any regard for basic fundamentals.
This is a painting that I have been sketching and thinking of for several years. As a youngster, I was accused of being impatient with a tendency to rush things. I received excellent instruction from gifted masters about how to develop a painting. As a youth I ignored the advice. I wanted to paint! I didn’t want to fool around with boring sketches, charcoal studies and color value studies. So I just jumped right in. Then I would lament that my painting didn’t work out too well. Finally as I got a bit older I learned to take one teacher’s advice. I was verbally spouting contemporary art theory when very abruptly I was told, “Shut up and paint!”
I have lived with this subject of this painting for 23 years. I have lectured, sketched and done quick watercolor demos for students on this site in all sorts of weather. While teaching, my focus has been on teaching my students; leaving little time for a deeper personal on site exploration of the subject. There have been a few quick watercolors of various spots and numerous plein aire demos in relation to class. Now I am gaining the time to really develop some serious pieces.
Why name it The Tunnel?
Great question. The open space is a gathering spot on campus named Ben Brown Plaza. It is a popular gathering spot for students and makes a logical location for various events. The large building is the Harwell G. Davis Library with a slight hint of Reid Chapel off in the distance. The beautiful oaks form a canopy along the sidewalk with wonderful shadows and playful light hitting the ground as well as the people and the buildings. In this piece the tunnel is not fully realized but come spring and full summer and it will be a different mater. I have work on progress that depicts that tunnel effect more strongly. However, for most of the students if you mention the tunnel they know what you mean. Hence, the title.
Preliminary under painting:
This is the foundation. Take note of the various colors and their position as well as relationship to one another. As the work progresses these colors will play a stronger role in the painting. Do note that some of the passages were executed in a wet ‘n wet technique while the washes with sharper defined edges were painted directly on dry paper. All of these techniques can be used in glazing. I have left the edges of the paper showing so you can see the staple marks. This is how I mount my paper to a 3/4″ marine plywood board to prevent the paper from rippling. Yes, unfortunately even 300 lb. paper will buckle these days. My plywood boards are quite old and I sealed them with marine grade varnish over 30 years ago. Some prefer to use gator board and that is fine. I see no need to toss out something that still works for me.
The colors I used were Andrews Turquoise by American Journey, Winsor & Newton Permanent Magenta, M. Graham Gamboge, Holbein Leaf Green, 300 lb. D’Arches cold press watercolor paper full sheet,and a 2 inch showcard sable flat brush, with assorted Winsor & Newton Series 7 rounds.
The Tunnel 20″ x 30″ watercolor
The final piece. Very little activity on this day. It was very cold and few people were stirring. Other pieces will probably have more people.
Want to know more about watercolor glazing techniques?
The revised, updated edition of Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol 1 by Dr. Don Rankin is available at http://www.createspace.com/3657628
Watch and learn about watercolor glazing techniques from Don Rankin. This is a perfect companion to the book.
Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor https://www.udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor
Classic video tutorial The Antique Shop, a remastered classic favorite now available on DVD
The Antique Shop http://www.createspace.com/350893
I had a tremendous response from the readers of this post. You put me over the top with your response to my last two posts.
All coupons were taken in less than 10 hours! The on-line course for Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor is now publicly available. In order to say thanks I am able to offer a $20 off on the regular price of $49. No guarantee of how long that will last.
The course consists of more than two hours of short easy to do tutorials. Lessons are broken into small segments do that you can hit the pause button, do the work and come back. I am told that you have lifetime access to the material and I will be updating or modifying from time to time. Right now there are 30 segments, dealing with brush handling techniques, paints, under painting, dry brush and other tips. In fact since some of you responded, I have added more material. One thing I ask; please write a review after you view the course. Those reviews are very important. I thank you in advance.
The coupon code is MGTIWa. The site is https://www.udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor
My apologies for those who tried to get in but were not able. I was hopeful that people would respond. I just didn’t imagine that it would happen so fast. While 10 hours is not a record it seems that Udemy considers any course that gets full response within 7 days to be a course that usually does very well.
In a few days I’ll be posting another watercolor tutorial. My postings have been a bit sparse but we started this video project 8 months ago. Now that it is completed I can look forward to more painting and posting.
I do want to make one observation. In the course of doing research I have had opportunity to read various posts that are supposed to be about watercolor glazing techniques. I have to say that I was more than a bit dismayed by some of the articles I have read in the past week or so. I’ll not mention names but I will say that watercolor glazing DOES NOT require the addition of any substance other than water and watercolor pigment to develop the process. If you run across accounts that tell you to add acrylic medium or varnish to the mix you are definitely reading the wrong article. Sorry folks but that ain’t watercolor glazing.
Want to know more about watercolor glazing techniques? Order Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Volume 1 by Dr. Don Rankin http://www. createspace.com/3657628
DVD: A complete tutorial of painting from start to finish: The Antique Shop http://www.createspace.com/350893