various watercolors and a few watercolor pencils
on 140 lb weight “mystery” watercolor scrap paper
my own photo
Recently I “put on/presented/played at” a little Watercolor Playdate hosted by my local library Logan County Public Library. (Big shout out here to the lovely and very helpful staff).
I decided to do this 'cause I wanted to “play with” a few other local watercolor folks. I dreamed up an itty bitty program and gathered together a “kit”....(i.e. Anything to do with watercolor from my studio) and went to the playdate.
My basic aim was to show three simple ways to corral your watercolors so's each color is just where you want it. I showed off misket, wax colored pencil, and just plain ol' water surface tension.
At home, I made up a photo of a brightly lit apple, drew it out on a bit of board, and made a quickie template that I used to trace off the outline of the apple, and the bottom half of the apple with the shadow. I used that to make up two sets of watercolor sketches on paper scraps. One with misket separating the apple and table from the background, so's we could play with dark intense watercolor backgrounds. Rather than waiting for that to dry.....watching paint dry is normally a ton of fun for me......but not so much when you only have an hour for the project, I did a second set of watercolor sketches with the backgrounds already done.
We started off with soaking the prepared watercolor sketch scraps so's we could do the “soak and slap” method of wetting and stabilizing the paper on scraps of plexiglass. I showed off this method on this blog a while back here. Then everyone started laying in bits of the background yellow/red/blues watercolor from the three primary watercolors they'd brought from home. We used styrofoam plates for palettes.
After we finished with our backgrounds we set them aside to dry and take home later. Then I brought out the prepared samples where I had already laid in a watercolor background. I noted that the washes dried about half again lighter than what they'd looked like when first painted. I'd also used a bit of salt crystals....... just 'cause.
I let everyone put in a dot of misket on the apple's highlight spot, remove the dried misket for the background line, and trace off the bottom part of the apple and shadow with a wax Prismacolor colored pencil. I wanted to show that wax colored pencils can be very effective at corralling a watercolor wash. I did a blog post about this here.
After the highlight spot was dry, everyone set to painting the apple. We put enough of a wash of water on the apple that, surrounded by the dry paper, it bowed a bit. We “encouraged“ it to bow down so's the red washes would go towards the center shadow of the apple.
Finally when the apple reds were almost dry, we washed a bit of clear water over the shadow area of the apple and and followed that with a wash of blue over the white and over the shadow side of the apple. This was “corralled” by the white wax pencil outline. We “encouraged” the blue to pool at the deepest shadow point, the nexus of the apple and shadow point. We had left the end of the shadow just bounded by the water tension of the water wash. As we tilted it back and forth the shadow automatically graduated itself.
After the washes sorta kinda dried, we looked over each other's work and it was SO interesting to see just how much the color choices made each learning apple unique!
Best of all we all gave ourselves permission to “play with our paints”. If you are only doing something on a scrap.....you can try anything.....without guilt or pressure. You never know just what you might discover when you play!
Give yourself a “play date”, whether solo or with a few of your “friends in watercolor”. Grab some scraps of watercolor paper, some odd watercolors you've been dying to try, your fav watercolor brush, and an hour of your time. See just how much fun you can have “watching paint dry”!