Rewind to the Holbein Art Event in Burlington, Bob Burridge's workshop.
We started a series of three paintings on half sheets on Strathmore 300 lb watercolor paper choosing one of the words from the warm up exercises as subject. I chose claustrophobia.
I then chose the colors - limited palette because I did not have any of my paints with me - and the composition type: cruciform, vertical and horizontal.
The easiest to work with turned out to be the cruciform. The painting was almost done at the end of the workshop; I added some bits of collage, played a bit with the background colors and voila ...
One of my goals is to work on the quality of my line. I want it to be more expressive and fluid.
I picked up again Veronica Lawlor's book One drawing a day . Lesson 6 - render a nature scene (park, garden etc) using only graphite and marks - no lines until the end.
It was surprising to realize how many marks can be done with the humble pencil...and this exercise is certainly something that I will be doing more often.
Do you have a favorite tool to make marks with? I'd love to know - please leave me a comment.
I did a session of 10 5-min paintings on cheap drawing paper 9 x 12.
Parameters set for the session:
I put them aside for now and I will revisit them in few days. So far, there seem to be two that don't inspire me at all (the third and the fifth), but who knows ... things might change.
On the roll with the washes! I created one more and used saran wrap for some texture. My plan was to use the same purple flowers as a start for a second attempt at negative painting. I also wanted to test again the watercolor ground, so I gesso-ed the page, then applied the ground. I have Daniel Smith Transparent Watercolor Ground.
No idea what went wrong, but the watercolor would not stick to the paper. It was as if I primed the page with a resist. I switched to acrylics and decided to use them diluted with water and I wanted to try one day.
Acrylics do not lighten when dried but I was not able to obtain the brightness I was looking for. I was still under the impression of the hummingbird Jean showed here. In retrospect, the expectation was not realistic, given the colors I used for the base washes. This is my version of a hummingbird:
It was a worthwhile exercise nevertheless. Turns out the Fluid watercolor paper can take a fair amount of beating and this makes me happy. It can be a good replacement for the printmaking paper used in Vermont - it is not available in Canada.
It is harvest season at my CSA farm and every week I had a huge eggplant in my basket. I had to paint it!
For the first attempt, I used a pre-painted ground that was destined to become an abstract watercolor. But I got stuck, so I recycled it.
For the second one, I used directional washes.
I am starting to have a lot of fun painting for the bin. I am sure my washed will get better after the workshop with Jane Blundell in October. She is the pigment guru. Knowledge of pigment is essential to get good washes. Good paper and brushes help too...
Continuing the practice from the Atmospheric Watercolor book, I ventured to paint negative shapes. I found inspiration in a photo I took some weeks ago - a bouquet of wild flowers. The photo and the base wash:
I love the salt texture, but in the following steps I managed to cover it completely. I also covered the right bottom corner with a great layer of ... mud! But fear not - gesso came to the rescue.
I gesso-ed the part I did not like, then applied watercolor ground. I was then able to apply more washes. I find that the ground is tricky to work with - I am not sure if it must be left to cure a certain amount of time. the paint lifts easily.
This is how the painting evolved:
Of course, it is quite a leap from the original photo and that is absolutely fine. All in all, I am pleased with the results of the experiment.
Few weeks ago, I discovered Jean Haines - might have been in a post by Anne-Laure ...not so sure anymore. Jean's style is amazing - a blend of oriental brush handling technique and classic western watercolor. She makes everything look effortless, yet one can see that every brush stroke is carefully thought out. She lets the water and the pigment mix freely and at the same time, she controls the process every step of the way. I wish I could do that *sigh*...
I found her book "Atmospheric watercolors" at the library and did some practice washes.
So much fun, I could just keep playing with water and pigment. I like that she is actually looking for blooms in the color mixes and sometimes she even creates them on purpose. Purists want their washes flat and regular ... but oh, so boring ...
The downside for me is that this is not a portable way of working when one does plein-air. I was reminded the importance of using A LOT of water and A LOT of pigment. And waiting for layers to dry! The learning can certainly be taken out and about ... and I will be making more washes, no doubt. Too much fun...
I spent some time in the Laurentians at Lake Monroe and used the unsuspecting beach goers as models for these vignettes.
Pen and watercolor on Fluid watercolor paper and hand made signatures.
Day 4 started with 5 min paintings on 9 x 12 pieces of drawing paper. The rules are simple: take out the tools, set the timer for 5 min and make marks for the whole duration. No cheating. Make a statement in 5 min. Easier said than done. Another exercise that pushes boundaries and limits of the comfort zone just notch farther. Here are my 5 min paintings;
I then selected elements from these pieces and worked with them in a different way. I chose to experiment with small marks and shapes that float on the page because this is the opposite of what I normally do. My go-to way is to have the shapes anchored to the edge of the paper. I made few small studies with this in mind.
The rest of the day was spent working on the in-progress pile - some 15 or so pieces.