I want to get used to my new palette. Well, my new old palette as most colors remained. Anyhow, practice makes perfect, right? So I opened the fridge to see what looks appealing. I found a pear, an apple and a very old lemon.
I fond the washes a bit stiff, so I made another sketch with the intention to loosen up the paint application. Between take 1 and 2, I ate one of the models so I replaced it with a gourd ...I think I like the second one better. What do you think?
It is gotten cold ,,, and rainy ... so I sketched some leaves I picked up on the way home on terraskin paper. I am getting to like this paper quite a lot for its smoothness and resistance.
t Right before I left for vacation, I took a 2-day color workshop with Jane Blundell. The topic was how to build a watercolor palette. Now, I believe that anybody who even remotely is interested in watercolors struggles with this. In my case, when I got the sketching bug 3-4 years ago, I ended up purchasing all the colors than an artist had on his palette. I was heading to Vermont for a quick intro workshop to sketching, I did not have any watercolors at all, I liked the the look of this artist\s sketches - bright and lively - the paints were at a discount and they were a good brand (Holbein). But somehow, I was never quite happy with the colors I mixed.
Jane explained how to check the pigment composition of a color. The basic colors on the palette should be individual pigments. That has two main advantages:
Looking at the composition on some of my tubes, I also noticed that some paints had black in them. No wonder I did not like how they interacted with the sketch(Payne's grey and Indigo). I also had semi-transparent colors that I hardly used because they muddied my mixes. They were eliminated from the palette.
I added titan buff, Jane's grey, a third red, phtalo blue and goethite. Jane worked with each participant to sort out their palette based on the colors they already had. Jane;s grey is a premixed grey - ultramarine and burnt sienna. The idea is to make our own most used mixes and have them ready in the palette. That saves time and frustration when one needs to add a touch of dark or whatever. It is also cheaper in the long run.
In addition to the basic colors, there are also convenience colors.These are personal choices, colors that speak to each individual, or convenience colors (colors that can be mixed from the single pigments but that one may chose to have as premixed colors to save time when painting, especially on location).
We then painted a pear study to apply the newly acquired knowledge.
I call them decorative squash or decorative pumpkins, but somebody gently pointed out that they are gourds. So be it. And this is their season. We had a long and warm fall so far - cannot complain.
Gourds make interesting subjects when one cannot go out sketching. So I painted them in various ways.
Here are three of my sketches - watercolors, gouache and cottage paint, and collage.
I continued my experiments on terraskin paper. I took a picture of flowers when I was out walking earlier in the summer and I used that as an inspiration.
I am pleased with the results. I think what I liked the most is that the paint on this paper remains translucent. This also makes it harder to get very dark darks,
As part of the ByDesign assignments, I wanted to design a page using columns. I grabbed some peppers and a pumpkin from the fridge and set a still life.
I also wanted to use no more than 3 washes - to avoid turning everything into mud. And I also wanted to try to use loose washes a la Jean Haines.
I have to be more careful with the margins, now that I have a new understanding of why they are important.
I am pleased with the spread, I like the size of the paper here too - 11 x 15. I think I will start working with spreads more - more freedom to play with the space.
I enjoyed the process, and I like the way the colors mixed as well as the role that the negative space plays in the composition. Painting for the bin can be fun!
Thanks for reading!
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.