approx 8 x 10 inches
various watercolour brands, bit of acrylic paint, and some salt
on approx 140 lb watercolour paper, unknown brand
done from my drawing
Both this blog post and watercolour sketch comes from an experimental watercolor piece that came to be Wet Paint. It started out from an old phrase.....”That (whatever is being disparaged) is just about as exciting as watching paint dry”. Well I happen to luv to watch paint dry. I can learn a lot from the experience.
I have a very old stash of various sizes, weights and kinds of watercolour papers. After my disastrous experience with some watercolour board, a kind soul on a FB forum reminded me about stretching watercolour papers.
So off I went on a watercolour voyage of re-discovery. I took a 11 x 14 piece of approx 140 lb watercolour paper and tried holding it down with binder clips and masking tape. I decided I wanted a figure and to do a lot of washes for the background. I took a figure drawing I had, and laid in liquid misket for the whites and started wetting the paper for a watercolour pour. Even tho it was held down it immediately began to buckle. The washes of colour pooled in the “valleys”. So I took the paper and put it on an old piece of chip board and proceeded to staple it down stretching as I went along.
The second wash buckled as well. So more random colour pools. But the paper did dry flat....after the washes got really random. If I'm gonna get smoooooooth transition washes, I marked that in the “need more research” column.
So I went with the random colours. The next item I wanted to try was salt blooms. Since I'd never really given this a “scientific” trial, I did multiple doses of salt. This resulted in a LOT of salt blooms in just one piece. But I did sorta kinda learn just when to drop in the salt. It does leave a lovely random lacy pattern.
The next thing I learned was not to be timid when mixing darks. I really went wild with multiple watercolour hues.....holding mostly to blues and purples. They stained the deep colours without too much pigment remaining on the surface. I called that trial a win!
I then went onto “rub outs”......where you take a hard bristle brush and a lotta water and rub on already painted paper and remove some of the already applied colours. It results in a soft ghostly outline and is a lovely effect.
After everything else dried, I then removed the misket on the figure's face. Here I wanted to try just emphasizing the main features and expression with as little details as possible. As it measured only less than an inch....it wasn't too hard to do. Just a bristle brush of paint could change everything. I finally convinced myself to “let it alone”! Yet another lesson learned.
I next went onto a colour “lesson” I'd learned in acrylics....but wanted to try in watercolours. The figure had a white T shirt most of which was in shadow. I wanted that shadow to be luminous so I ghosted in yellow/rose madder genuine/cobalt blue in a light wash. Once the misket was removed....it glowed!
Finally at the bottom I wanted a real intense shadow. I laid down misket on either side and really poured on the blues/purples. When I thought, “This is too much paint” I stopped. When it dried.....it “matched” the rest of the painting's light perfectly!
So to recap:
I need to learn more about watercolour paper prep.
Drop in the salt on barely wet paper....not too wet and not too dry. Really helpful, right?
You can't overdo the watercolor color for a deep color wash....it never is TOO much.
“Rub outs” are a lovely way to find your “soft edges”.
If I can make myself “leave things alone”.....just a few bit of shadow can “tell my story”.
Ghostings of the three primaries will give a lovely glow to a “white” shadow.
Let graduated colors of a watercolour wash “do the work for you” when working on shadows.