Friday, August 30, 2013

"Untitled" (final)

(image 1)

(image 2)

This morning's studio session has been interesting indeed. I have now decided that this is the end of this piece and will share what I learned from this particular layering process.

My idea from the very beginning was to introduce some gesso at the end and integrate it with the watercolor. And the beauty of taking photos after each layer is that I can now see where I wish I had stopped. So instead of feeling sad, I am elated because now I know that it is not necessary to even use the gesso since the white of the paper and the interplay with the watercolor and mark making is quite enough to carry the piece.

Now I have visuals to guide my next process. And this is often the case. It is absolutely crucial to take pictures as you work, if you want to take your artwork to the next level. Artists from time immortal have made the mistake of going too far and wished they could go back. With technology at our fingertips, it is totally possible and advisable to document the whole process digitally. I am now quite excited to begin a new piece and stopping before I ruin the whole thing.

So what you see in the first image today is where I wished I had stopped. What I do like is the interplay between the watercolor, the white of the paper, and the gestural mark making. Even though this piece is totally abstract and non representational, it is entirely possible to have created a soft realistic image tucked away in one of those shapes created by the watercolor. That would give the dynamic of having a strong contrast between the abstract and realism.

So the big "take away" today is......document your process with a digital camera! Process is everything....and just to quote myself from another posting....."Process is the breath of creativity." And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Untitled" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

This piece has no title or quote yet, but it will. This is only my initial start to a very intuitive painting process. It all begins with "mark making" on wet paper.

This draft will be even more interesting to you if you are in my "mark making" class this Saturday. This will be one of the intuitive type recordings and small works we will be doing.

I chose a different paper than the normal selections for watercolor. This happens to be Rives BFK. It is an excellent choice for mark making because it is a printmaking paper and much softer than normal watercolor choices. And yet it receives the watercolor beautifully.

The intuitive process began by wetting both sides of the paper with a sponge (lightly...since it will "pill" if rubbed too hard). The excess water was removed and I began by using two different sized watercolor brushes and neutral tint watercolor to draw lines from edge to edge. My next mark making choice was a stylus used to write into the wet and colored areas. I also used a bamboo pen to write a word and make a few more lines. I then slowed down the process by waiting for the paper to dry just a bit and using more concentrated neutral tint to make additional lines and even writing another word or two with a pointed brush.

You will also notice that there was no intention of making straight lines. It looks a lot less contrived if the marks are more organic. Some of the lines veer off to the side....creating small window shapes. After all was said and done, I left it to dry naturally until the water and pigment stopped moving and then I dried both sides with a hair dryer.

The next step was to glaze on several shapes of green watercolor over the first layer. It is important to keep a light touch and not keep going over one area more than (1) or (2) times. More than likely, there will be diluted gesso or bleedproof white gouache added to add an ethereal look as well as more watercolor. There will also be some pencil lettering created as I go along.

It is a great way to work and all begins with "mark making". Inscribing into wet paint is just one way to create your marks. In the next layer, you will see marks created on a dry surface which will provide a contrast to the softly blurred lines from today. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Floating Flower"

(unavailable....4" x 6".....on 300 lb. Fabriano CP.....mounted on masonite)

"Floating flower is pure nostalgia." There is something quite mesmerizing about looking at a flower floating in water. This is my interpretation of my hibiscus floating in water from yesterday's posting.

This piece is altogether experimental. In fact, truth be known, most pieces are experimental. The most creative and dynamic images do occur when the piece ends up in a different place than planned. Too much planning can result in a contrived image unless the piece is totally realistic and the technique is flawless.

You might be surprised to know that this piece was originally turned upside down from what you see today and the blue shape was actually an old wall image I was studying and ended up using masking fluid and glazing techniques. There was also a ledge in the wall with a partial flower hanging down. When I finished the flower, it didn't look right to me so I turned it upside down and glazed some orange into the blue / brown shape. And as it turned out the light blue shape has the same curving lines as in the flower and provides a partial echo of the flower shape.

"Changing horses in the middle of the stream"....happens frequently. It can be fun to figure out how to make everything work, but there always seems to be an alternative solution. So the lesson learned today is to view the piece in a different direction before making the final decisions. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Flower Collection"


"Flowers are the best collections." Whether they're in a vase, dried under glass, in a painting, or in a remain one of the most popular images for all types of art and celebrations. This painting was inspired by a hibiscus plant by our front door.

This is an abstracted image and not meant to be totally representational. To arrive at the salmon colored flower, I really needed a bright red instead of Alizarin Crimson. A true red (like Napthol or Cad. Red) plus a bit of orange will achieve that salmon color, but alas, I was determined to paint this flower on this Monday morning!

The leaves are also very stylized, but that really makes it look even more contemporary. If I had it to do all over again, I would probably abstract it even more and simply create a design that projects the frilly and delicate nature of this particular flower. And this is the best part of abstraction. Any of the design elements in the realistic image can be altered and rearranged to create something totally abstract. In this case, I would keep the colors the same and the "frilly" edge in tact, but everything else would be up for grabs.

In fact, it would be nice to have a collection of images based on the same inspiration image and simply abstracted in different ways. Of course, my mind is absolutely on collections right now due to the fact that there is an upcoming exhibit called "Poetic Collections".  So there will likely be quite a few postings of quotes from or giving a nod to poetry.

The technique in this image was based on glazing techniques except for the first layer which was wet into wet. So maybe you can pick a flower from your collection in the yard and give this a shot. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Erratic Lines"

(unavailable....4" x 6"....on 300 lb. HP.....mounted on masonite)

"Erratic lines have their own poetry." This is true especially when they are showcased against a very vibrant color. It is quite fun to see how many erratic lines you can spot in your everyday surroundings. Look at tree limbs...cracks in the concrete...the movement in an electrical cord reaching to the socket, etc. They have energy and that's why we like them!

This piece was inspired by my desire to experiment with Super Heavy Gesso (Liquitex). I applied it with a palette knife on 300 lb. HP. A texture tool was used to create the vertical lines and then I swiped through some of those lines with a palette knife and also made some gestural marks with the corner of a palette knife. This was left to dry overnight. (It is very thick and cannot be dried with a hair dryer.)

The following morning, I painted the yellow/green over the entire piece with a sponge brush (3x) using Fluid Acrylics and drying in between. The erratic black lines were also Fluid Acrylic and diluted slightly and applied with a palette knife and also pouring a bit from the bottle. The texture created by the gesso helped create the shape and direction of the black paint. Notice that the lines go from top to bottom and also create a few shapes in several different sizes. Creating shapes informed my choice of where the paint was applied. And this application of black paint also had to dry overnight.

The line of lettering was kept straight and written expressively with a pointed pen, Moon Palace Ink, with a very small x-height. Erratic lines and mark making are wonderful for mixed media work of all kinds. Mark making can be created with an infinite variety of odd things you probably have lying around your house or yard. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Surface Texture"

(unavailable.....4" x 6".......on 300 lb. HP......mounted on masonite)

"Texture reveals depth and complexity." It is so true that texture is appealing on so many levels. Otherwise, why would people pay good money to buy antique items with layers and layers of texture?

The funny story I have about texture has to do with the person who stained the concrete floor in my studio. He was very concerned about the "splotchy" surface created by oil stains and paint that had spilled. He was quite relieved that I thought he was doing a great job and that I was totally unconcerned about splotches. My reply was this..."Artists spend hours and many layers to achieve this look so please carry on!"

If you want the perfect segue into abstraction, start collecting your images of all kinds of surface textures. They provide the perfect jumping off point for a piece of art. In the case of today's posting, the image was some kind of industrial looking table with this hole that was probably used for a hose or something. That hole in the metal became the focal point for this small experimental work.  This is probably my most satisfactory way of creating abstraction. Texture is definitely a core part of my voice. If you feel the same way, this is a great exercise.

I began by painting two coats of heavy body black acrylic paint on a piece of 300 lb. HP. After drying these layers thoroughly, I mixed up a gray from Ultramarine Bl. and Burnt Sienna plus White. This mixture of gray is great because you can warm it up or cool it down quite easily. Sponge brushes were used for all of the paint application. After applying this coat of gray, I scribbled lettering and other erratic marks into the paint. Dried with a hair dryer.  Spraying alcohol and removing paint erratically with a brayer created the texture.  You might also use a paper towel to remove larger amounts of paint. The idea is to make it look convincing by abrading the surface as erratically as possible. The other two layers were applied and abraded the same way. They were Burnt Sienna and White Fluid Acrylics.

More marks can also be carved into the surface after the alcohol and brayering is done and before it's dry. As you can see, this technique creates a highly textured surface. It is well worth an experimental piece of your own. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

"The Creative Spirit"

(unavailable.....4" x 6".....on 300 lb. HP......mounted on masonite)

The windows of time open for the creative spirit." So many times there is a misconception that creativity is only for artists. Actually, anyone can be creative in any endeavor, especially if there is a willingness to embrace the unknown.

This is a totally experimental piece created with heavy body acrylics. Yellow Titanate was applied first with a palette knife, followed quickly by Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Turquoise plus Titan Buff. Most of the "smudgy" effect was created by moving the paint around with my fingers (wearing gloves)and making some gestural marks.

The sgraffito effect was very much in play. The erratic lines and lettering were scratched into the wet paint with the corner of a credit card and a Speedball C5 nib. At this point there were a lot of stark edges so I brayered over most of the piece while spraying alcohol. That technique will soften some edges and tone down any areas that are too bright.

My goal was to play around with low intensity color and pops of more intense color. It was fun and gave me a feel for the type of abstract work I am leaning towards. Shapes and edges were still a priority as they should be whether it's abstract or realistic work. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Feathers of Angel Wings"

(SOLD.....8" x 8".....Watercolor on 300 lb. CP Fabriano.......Presented on a 2" Cradled Board)

"The feathers of angel wings cover me with protection." Everyone likes the idea of being protected from the storms of life. The association of a feather image to angel wings rustles my imagination in a very good way.

Well.....this is the end of the angel series. It's time to move on. The position of these last set of wings came to me just before I woke up this morning. They are almost touching and seem to be enclosing an area....very much like a shelter. (Psalm 91 provides more connections with this thought.)

Of course the piece was created much the same way as the others so there's not too much to add to those comments. I guess my big take away from this particular design in conjunction with watercolor techniques was the idea of color bands and the surrounding shapes. In this case, I am referring to the stripes in the feathers, but it could also be bands of strong color with negative space in between. It might be fun to create a small piece with a wide range of different sized stripes. Paint the bands of color  in a fairly saturated manner with blank paper in between. After drying the bands throughly, take a brush dipped only in water and wet each band and the area in between and allow the pigment from the saturated color to bleed into the empty band shape. It will soften the edges of the darker color and break up some of the surface of an extremely saturated color.

Most of the time, watercolors are layered to create a darker area and in most cases that would be the preferred technique, but this also offers up some possibilities. Contemporary watercolor is a wonderful segue into experimentation and simply playing around with different ratios of pigment to water. Close observation of what happens when you apply the watercolor in various stages of wetness is also instructive. For instance....applying different ratios of pigment and water to totally wet paper....waiting until the glisten of the water leaves the paper, and "bone dry" paper.

These are some of the techniques that will prove to be useful when creating a piece. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Light As A Feather"

(SOLD......8" x 8"....on 300 lb CP Fabriano....Presented on a 2" depth cradled board)

"The spirit is quiet and as light as a feather." To hear the spirit of God within us, it is quite necessary to be quiet. The Spirit does not speak where there is loudness and chaos, but in a still, quiet voice. It is another way of looking at the verse from Psalms....."Be still and know that I am God."

You probably noticed that I took three days off from blogging. There were other more pressing issues to deal with and I really do need to there you have it!

This is the second in my trilogy with the feather. These are (8" x 8"'s) and will be displayed together in a fall exhibit called "Poetic Collections". What I am noticing is that the more I paint the same image, the more abstract it becomes. So if you want to learn more about how to abstract an image, this is a good way.

I have begun both pieces the same way with a very wet surface....getting rid of excess water with a sponge....and then dropping in some pale yellow with a mop brush. All the other colors were glazed on dry paper and losing most of the edges with a brush dipped in water and dragged over a sponge cloth to get rid of the excess....and then touching the edge of the color just glazed. The paper, of course, was thoroughly dry before adding a new glaze.

The dark stripe shapes in the feather were painted rather dark and solid and then allowed to dry. I then got a water brush and brushed over those stripes and into the neighboring shapes to deepen the value and soften the edges of the stripes. It can look contrived and rather stark to paint dark shapes with  hard edges around the perimeter. The problem can also be resolved by paying attention to the color and value immediately surrounding the dark shape.

Another tip is to test your values on a scrap piece of watercolor paper before applying it to your piece. It is very difficult to judge the darkness and lightness of watercolor when mixing it on the palette. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Feather My Soul"

(SOLD.......8" x 8".......on 300 lb. CP Fabriano Paper.....Presented on a 2" depth cradled board)

"Feather my soul with declarations of your love." I have developed visceral feelings about this feather so this is one of three in a series. The quote today came from my own heart and has a spiritual meaning, but it could also be referring to the love of your life.

Today's posting is an (8" x 8"). Squares still hold a special attraction for me because of possibilities of space division. It can have a horizontal or vertical feel depending on the image. This, of course, is an abstracted feather, but not so abstract that it is unidentifiable. The colors and shape are the elements that had me at first glance.

Any natural image from our created world has numerous possibilities for abstraction and playing with shape. By noting the elements of design (line, shape,size, direction, color, value, texture).....and what they are doing, you have the opportunity to abstract the image by altering any of these elements. And how much these elements are altered is totally up to the artist.

Even though I love color with all my heart, neutrals still beckon me frequently to come back and visit them again. These are the kinds of continual "returnings" that give you the most obvious clues in what comprises your art voice. And I seem to have a new found love for watercolor since its characteristics contain some of my longings for transparency contrasted with opacity and especially the luminosity.

So on it goes, the daily listening for the spirit within that originates the longing for particular techniques, moods, and all the other elements that comprise visual communication. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Feather My Nest"

(unavailable....6" x 4"......on 300 lb. CP)

"Feather my nest and my art with neutrals." Even when brighter colors are used, the neutrals are what make them the star attraction. A world without neutrals would be too intense for a peaceful environment.

The inspiration for today's abstract watercolor was a feather. It involves using the same glazing techniques as mentioned in previous postings.

Two very important pigments to have in your watercolor box are Neutral Tint and Sepia. These two particular colors were the primary voice in this small piece. They are Daniel Smith brand. When the Sepia was mixed with a bit of Hansa Yellow and a touch of Alizarin Crimson, a golden yellow emerged.

This piece began by sponging both sides of the paper (300 lb. CP...Fabriano) with water and squeezing out the sponge to remove excess water. The golden yellow pigment was charged into the area where the feather was painted. Of course, I did something else while this dried and after a bit...finished drying with a hair dryer.

The glazing began with a light sepia over the entire feather. After that glaze was dried the other shapes were painted in, going from light to dark. I then added a bit of interest in the opposing corners. It came out a bit too dark so after drying it completely, I took a stiff bristled brush dipped in water and scrubbed most of the pigment off...blotting with a kleenex.

While the paper was damp, I charged in the dots with a concentrated amount of sepia and neutral tint. Finally, I glazed over the negative space with a very dilute portion of the yellow mixture. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Layer on Layer"

(unavailable.....4" x 6".....on 300 lb. CP)

"Growth is layer on layer." In an instantaneous one likes to realize that growth in any area happens layer by layer. There are so many nuances to everything that it is impossible to learn all of them at once. But oh the joy, when things do come together in a pleasing way.

This small piece represents me practicing my techniques again. And literally, the glazing technique in watercolor is layer on layer. Just to recap...the layers must be dried after each one. That's the most important thing to remember.

I did begin by sponging both sides of this 300 lb. CP (Arches) with water. That thoroughly wets the paper and removes the sizing. I then painted three horizontal lines across the wet paper with neutral tint and a tiny bit of Cobalt Violet (Turner Brand). This may not seem to be an important layer, but creates foundational values that can be seen through the transparent layers. It is best at this point to go talk a walk, throw some laundry in the washer, or make the beds, etc. and let the water and pigment do what they're going to do. If you use your hair dryer too quickly, the effect will be ruined.  Come back to the piece after about 15 or 20 min. and then finish drying with a hair dryer.

My only reference here was a plant in my studio. And I simply took the shapes of the leaves as my jumping off point and changed the colors to lighter values. After painting each leaf on dry paper and losing the edge with plain water on one side, but not with every leaf, I dried it with a hair dryer. It doesn't take long for the pigment to do what it's going to do when glazing on dry paper.

You can see that I kept the colors light and overlapped them to create an abstract contemporary look. I also used a mechanical pencil (without the lead exposed) to make lines and write in a few of the leaves while they were wet. There happen to be (11) leaf layers in this piece.

Finally, I wrote the quote in pencil running up the side vertically. This is an important technique to get under your belt if you like contemporary watercolor.   And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Shades of Violet"

(unavailable.....4" x 6".....on 300 lb. CP)

"Shades of violet color the reflections of my mind." Depending on how you feel when you see violet colors, they can symbolize sadness or elation. It's a matter of preference.

This is another 4" x 6" that began with watercolor. White bleedproof white gouache was added to key areas to create new shapes and add a sense of mystery. Working on pieces this small gives me an opportunity to practice watercolor techniques and how the pigment reacts to various degrees of wetness. I also played around with the ratio of pigment to water. The focal point has pigment applied right out of the tube with no water added accept for the edges after it was applied.

These are quite fun to do and allow for experimentation and practice without too much fuss. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Common Denominators" (final)

(unavailable.....4" x 6"......mounted on masonite)

"Common denominators create patterns." Common denominators in art are the same thing as repetitive elements. In this case, it is repetitive lines and color.

Since yesterday, I drew some erratic lines over the watercolor with pencil. I used several different values of graphite. The piece was then sprayed with water on both sides and extra water dabbed off with a sponge.   It is important not to wipe the excess water off since the watercolor has not been fixed with an acrylic spray.

A light glaze of sepia was brushed on with a flat watercolor brush and then I wrote into the wet paper with an empty pointed pen. You can clearly see that effect in the tiles.  The piece was dried with a hair dryer. Diluted white gesso was then applied with a sponge brush and pushed around with a credit card.  

The piece was then dried with a hair dryer and then bleedproof white gouache was applied with sponge brush on damp paper. The beauty of bleedproof white is the ease at which it can be blotted and removed or pushed around with a credit card. The piece was dried again and some of the white gesso removed with a stiff brush dipped into alcohol. After that was dried, I added a bit more yellow and blue watercolor.

Another technique I used througout these last layers was blotting with a kleenex lightly. All of these techniques combined create an "aged" and mysterious looking surface with a lot of depth. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Common Denominators" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

The quote has not happened yet, but the title gives me lots of options. Language and key words often provide the imagination with all kinds of images. None of us may realize just how much our eye is on the hunt for common denominators. In a way, it helps us stay counting telephone poles or automatically seeing the complementary color when looking at a particular color for a length of time.

It is quite fascinating to realize how much common denominators play a part in our lives and in our art. They are found primarily in repetitive design elements. In this piece, the repetitive element is found in the tiles. They will definitely be the focal point, but by tomorrow, this piece will be totally transformed. It will end up being a 4" x 6" which is quite small, but this is a test run for larger works.

This is an experimental piece using watercolor and gesso or bleedproof white gouache to incorporate a portion of the watercolor as the main attraction while the rest of the piece will be various intensities of the white with erratic darker lines in the background which is my very next step. I will also be knocking down the intensity of the tile work with glazing and perhaps a few aging techniques.

This first draft began with drawing in some basic outlines of the shapes of the tile with a pencil. Last night I applied masking fluid (with a dental pick....the wooden kind) to all of the white shapes you see in the tiles.

This morning, I wet the paper front and back and removed the excess water with a sponge. The yellow was then charged in with a mop brush. After that dried, I added more masking fluid over the shapes in the tiles that are yellow. Next came the Delft Blue wash over a completely wet surface. (If I had it to do over again, I would have glazed over the selected areas on dry paper.) That's why this is an experimental piece. I forgot how much the yellow would lift and mix with the blue if it was saturated with water. And that's why practice is so important. Every piece yields a bit more information about technique.

After the second layer was completely dry, I removed the masking fluid with a hard eraser designed for its removal. So today, I will experiment with the gouache and how to incorporate all of this into something cohesive and interesting. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Friday, August 9, 2013

"The Quiet" (final)

($80.00.......8" x 8"......Watercolor.......Mounted on a 1/8 Flat Panel (unframed)

"The quiet came into my heart and taught me to listen." So here is the final and this probably falls into the category of an abstract still life. A still life has the power to bring calm to any room and any heart. Add a touch of luminosity and all is well.

This was a bit nerve wracking to complete since I did not want to mess up the background. The best way to conquer this fear and gain more confidence is to have another piece going exactly like the intended one. In this case my work off piece was a 6" x 6". So when I tackled the painting of the bottle on my work off piece, I remembered how extremely difficult it is to paint a symmetrical object like a vase. The trick (and time saver) I used was to draw half of the bottle on a sketch pad....cut that part out, but leaving enough paper to fold it over and trace around the half that was cut. Finish cutting it out and use it as a template.

I also felt more confident about how to paint the bottle and check my colors by first painting on the smaller work off piece. That really helped a lot and I was able to make the proper adjustments. All of this is important because watercolor is one of those mediums that has a mind of its own. Whenever pigment and water are placed on a surface together....almost anything can happen and so the key is to learn the techniques to control that by doing it over and over again. And believe me I am no watercolor expert at all, but I do know from much experience that having a work off piece of the same material you're working on is an excellent tip and time saver. (Also reduces stress levels!)

Another conclusion I have come to in working with watercolor is that pencil is the most compatible and subtle medium when including lettering. I actually did try to write with a pen and the yellow color, but I scrubbed it off and did it in pencil. And so another trick is to place the lettering in a very light area of the piece so it will not only show up, but so you can lightly erase any mistakes. Of course, if you erase it too hard, any color that was underneath will definitely be disturbed since the paper has not been sprayed.

So many details! And that requires patience when creating any type of artwork in any medium. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Please contact me personally to inquire about this piece.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"The Quiet" (draft 1)

(draft 1)

Even though this watercolor will end up with a serene and peaceful image, the strong diagonals will also keep it dynamic. I must admit it is a bit "scary" to post watercolors in process because it is not always possible to correct things that could go wrong in successive layers. Oh's only paper and I could start over again.

I could also have begun two pieces at the same time and same size, but I am out of 8" x 8" Fabriano CP. This much I can say....there is a reason why Fabriano Artistico is preferable to Arches. The Fabriano has a finer texture and a better feel. At least that is my opionion so far. I did begin a similar one in a smaller size because it makes me more confident to test my pigment to water ratio on a test piece first.

You may be wondering why I chose this particular layout and division of the design space. I am working from an inspiration piece. And what you will see tomorrow (hopefully), is a large transparent glass bottle that will overlap both blue areas and look as though it is sitting in a window sill.

My objective in these first two glazes was to show a variety of values with a variety of techniques. In the first glaze, I scrubbed the paper on both sides with water and a sponge brush to remove the sizing. I then squeezed all of the water out of the sponge and removed any excess water puddling on the top of the paper. With a mop brush, I laid in the first blue bands of color and created a bit of gradation by coming right behind the first swipe of the brush with water only to allow the color to fade out. I also left some white of the paper in both sections as well as the large middle band of untouched paper. The color did bleed a bit and created a diffused edge.

While all of that was drying (without the aid of a hair dryer), I busied myself reading and looking at things. After about (30) min. I finished drying both my small and large pieces with a hair dryer. It has been my observation that is best not to use a hair dryer right off the bat because it stops the spontaneous result between pigment and water. But alas, time is always of the essence, and no harm is done if you finish drying it after a sufficient amount of time....(i.e. when the water and pigment are no longer moving at all)

I also wrote into the pigment with a Speedball C-5 nib (no pigment) very lightly. If you press too hard, the subtle effect will not be achieved and the paper will be seriously marred. The second glaze was painted with a flat brush on dry paper and losing the edge of one side with a mop brush and water only. Take the water brush clear to the edge of the paper to avoid a hard line or at least until the pigment fades out to nothing.

So all of these techniques are the ones that must be practiced over and over until they become second nature.  My ultimate desire is to combine watercolor techniques with gesso techniques and of course....lettering. It's great fun and I hope that by sharing my journey, you will be helped in yours. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Variegated" (final)

(image 1)

(image 2)

"Variegated thoughts are running through my mind." Today is the final for this piece. In the first draft, I began two pieces and posted one of them yesterday, but did not like the outcome. So today, you are viewing the second one of those pieces which has become the final.

The advantage of working on two similar pieces at the same time...especially with watercolor is that you have an extra one available in case the first one got overworked. I observed both pieces from a distance during the course of the day and decided to leave this one and not put all of the leaf detail in place. It is simply a suggestion of the leaves and by stopping before I thought I was finished, I managed to capture the luminosity.

And this is the trick with watercolor in particular. It also provides shapes you might not have imagined in the final. So my big "take away" by working on two pieces is to have both of them in front of me to compare and contrast. It's an exciting way to work.

In this piece, I also have minimal glazing. Not more than three glazes over any of the leaves. Also notice that I left the edge of the previous layer showing which gives it depth. The two gray spots in the background were created in the very first wash by slinging a slightly darker value over the piece with the brush. One "sling" is quite sufficient. If you do too much of any technique...(i.e.....saran wrap...bubble wrap...or splattering)....and the viewer notices the technique more than the overall piece, it will look contrived. In this case, "less is more".

 If you are a lettering artist and you want to have some subtle or soft lettering, use a very sharp pencil (sharpened on a sandpaper block) and write on the piece before spraying with acrylic spray coating or varnish. If you don't, the spray could create a resist and not receive the graphite. If you choose gouache....the paper will need to be sprayed (3x) with spray acrylic coating and then prepared for lettering.

Watercolor is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating mediums to work with, but does require some perseverance and close observation to what is happening between pigment, water, and the wetness or dryness of the the paper. Most of the leaf glazes in this piece were applied with a brush with most of the water squeezed out and then dipped into a "juicy" puddle of pigment and water.

After making one pass over the desired area....I banged my mop brush in the water container to remove most of the pigment ran the brush over a sponge and then quickly softened the right edge with water only. This gives the desire "lost edge" effect and also helps with luminosity and a balance between hard and soft edges. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Variegated I" (draft 2)

(image 1)

(image 2)

Today's posting is the second image from yesterday with more layers. More than likely, there will be no more layers added except for the lettering. My quote will be...."Variegated thoughts are running through my mind."

This piece today represents me processing and practicing glazing and layering to create interesting shapes, edges, and maintaining the luminous qualities of watercolor. Like you, I am on a "learning curve" with these techniques since it has been a very long time since I made watercolor a part of my voice.

I am pleased that I did not overwork each layer by going over and over it. My mind was firmly wrapped around the idea of waiting until it was completely dry before adding more layers. Having said that, I really need to practice the ratio of water to paint. There are times when the water in the brush needs to be completely squeezed out before dipping it into more color.

And the value created by how much water is added to the pigment is also a major factor. I did exercise some control by testing my value on a "work off" piece before adding it to the actual piece. And I think this is a good practice tip, even with much experience. And I am also practicing different techniques on a 4" x 4" piece of 140 lb CP in between working on my other work.

My plan is to make notations of what I did on each 4 x 4, punch a hole in the corner, and place them on a binder ring. (They are available at office supply stores.) The reason these kind of exercises are important is to have a ready reference to make it easier in selecting which techniques to use to accomplish a specific goal. You can also cut out visual inspirations and mount them on large shipping tags and also place those on a binder ring. They also make a pretty display in a wood or decorative bowl in your studio.

So you can see in the two images today which colors I layered and in what order.  (My inspiration was the leaf patterns on an "Angel" you are seeing the top side of the leaf which is green and the underneath side of other leaves which is red.)  Planning out a layering strategy requires thinking ahead through the piece and then plotting your strategy. It's like thinking ahead and thinking backwards at the same time. You can also have no thought at all and simply paint whatever comes to mind. And that does work occasionally, but for long term success, you and I will both be better served by learning the basic techniques, color priniciples, and possible compositions before going crazy.

If you cannot recount to yourself and others what you did to create a particular look, then you can never intentionally repeat it. This means you will be starting at square one every time you paint. It will simply be a roll of the dice. Even artists who work very intuitively are thinking about a few things that are very important and making decisions as they go along. And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Variegated I" (draft 1)

(image 1)

(image 2)

The word "variegated" has always fascinated me. It reminds me of variegated embroidery thread and some of the work my mother enjoyed stitching onto pillow cases. Of course, I haven't seen an embroidered pillow case in years, but the memory will never fade.

After hosting a  contemporary watercolor workshop this past weekend with Mandy Gregory, I am, of course, now very involved with watercolor. So what you see today is two 8" x 8" pieces with two glazes and a bit of penciled lettering.

I began two pieces just in case one of them doesn't work out. But I also used different techniques with each one. In (image 1) you see the color applied to the wet paper by floating the watercolor on glass and laying the paper in the paint to create a mono print. The first layer in both pieces was a dilute portion of Neutral Tint Watercolor (Daniel Smith Brand)

In the second image, I used a mop brush to apply the dilute color to the paper with only one pass of the brush for each shape. After the first layer dried, I rewet the paper on both sides (lightly with a flat brush) and used a very dilute portion of Alizarin Crimson Watercolor (Daniel Smith Brand).  And after the second layer dried completely (bone dry), I wrote the word "variegated" with pencil on both pieces with a different placement for each.

My inspiration for this piece is coming from an "Angel" plant that has variegated color on the top of the leaf and deep red purple on the underneath side. The most important thing to know about glazing with watercolors is to lay down the color with as few strokes as possible and then leave it to dry naturally (bone dry) before laying down another color. If these two principles are not followed, the luminosity that is the primary characteristic of watercolors will be lost forever.

It is also a good idea to leave some of the white of the paper showing through or at least a very pale wash showing through. The last "take away" is to go from light to dark (most of the time) and build up the values gradually, making sure the paper is completely dry in between glazes.   And there you have it...just a few more things to think about.