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There are numerous ways to change a watercolor wash from a flat wash to an area with texture.
I have used cadmium red as the base for these washes since it is a bright color.
In the top row on the left, I made a flat wash and left it alone.
In the top right rectangle, I sprinkled table salt into the damp pigment. Little star-like shapes appear in the wash and the salt may be brushed away after the wash is completely dry. Larger crystals of salt will leave bigger star shapes.
In the middle row, I sprinkled the damp wash with water (on the left) and alcohol (on the right). These produce “run backs” in the paint, with alcohol producing a more subtle result.
In the bottom row, the damp wash was covered by pieces of crumpled plastic wrap (left) and wax paper (right) which are removed after the paint has dried. The plastic wrap produces a more angular abstract texture than the wax paper.
Many other items may be used to introduce texture and are all part of a watercolor artist’s arsenal of illusions in turning paint and paper into a piece of art.
I took my paints and went to the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C. because the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Including the Washington Monument gives this watercolor a sense of place.
The weather was warm and the walkways around the Tidal Basin were crowded with pedestrians, bicycles, strollers, and photographers. I would have painted more, but my parking time had elapsed and I got stuck in traffic when I went to move to another spot. Being hungry, hot, and tired, I came home and will paint from the photos I took.
The challenge was to document a day in one’s life. It has taken me all week to even get this far, so here is my incomplete day, as recorded in pen and ink and watercolor in my sketchbook.
1 April 2013
My day usually starts in this chair with a cup of coffee, reading the Bible. It’s often dark when I sit down and I get to watch the light brightening the water and the boats on the creek through the windows beside my chair. Since the windows face west, the morning sun turns the boats and trees on the far shore yellow-orange while our side of the creek is still in shadow.
We had eggs and English muffins for breakfast. Rick commented that he’d never seen me cooking with a sketchbook in hand before! And, yes, the eggs were cooked a little too much, but not burned!
Morning found me doing further work on a program cover for the New Score Chamber Orchestra. My friend wanted more color and contrast than the drawing I had submitted previously. Here I’m working out a possible color scheme for some of the detail.
We had Easter dinner with my folks yesterday and my generous step-mother sent us home with ham for my sandwich.
Physical Therapy for my knee. The therapist thought my sketchbook was an electronic game! Not shown in this sketch are the two pads with wires attached that provide electrical stimulation for the muscle on my right thigh.
More work on the program cover in the afternoon. I’ve sketched with pen and ink and am starting to add the watercolor washes. The gray spots are masking fluid, and will become multi-colored shapes to represent the music being played.
I did also do laundry, take a walk, and make dinner, but those sketches are still in very rough form and the pencil lines don’t show up well on the scans. Thanks for allowing me to share my day with you!
I was honored with a request to submit a design to be used as a program cover and publicity materials for the New Score Chamber Orchestra of Orlando, Florida. This pen and ink sketch, while quoting a well-used conducting cliché, adds some humor and meaning with hopes that the viewer enjoys getting LOST IN THE DETAILS.
New Score Chamber Orchestra’s motto is “linking music of living composers with today’s audience.” I was thrilled to participate as a guest artist during their inaugural performance last September. You can find out more about this group, including times and locations of performances, at their website.
Like Michelle of the Daily Post, who meandered along ancient stone paths, I was drawn to some old stones for this week’s picture for the theme: Forward.
This pen and ink drawing from my sketchbook is of the Ulmer Münster, a Lutheran church in Ulm, Germany, which I visited with my son several years ago. The church was started in 1377 and finished in 1890. It is the tallest church steeple in the world (530 feet), and has 768 steps.
As an artist, forward means creating the illusion that a subject is closer to the viewer in the picture frame than other objects. There are several ways to create this illusion:
1.) The subject in the foreground is usually lower down in the picture frame with objects further away appearing higher and closer to the horizon. Note how the feet of the man with the blue shirt are off the bottom of the picture, but the feet of people further away in the crowd are above his waist, some even at his shoulder level.
2.) The subject in the foreground is usually bigger than similar subjects further away. Again, compare the size of the man in the blue shirt with people further away, or the sizes of the windows in receding buildings.
3.) The subject in the foreground is usually rendered in greater detail while objects further away are lacking in details and may only be suggested, as in the spires on the steeple.
4.) Subjects in the foreground may overlap other objects, pushing them further away visually.
5.) In colored pictures, objects usually tend to lose color, becoming grayer and lighter as they recede.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a drawing of Noah’s Ark in response to the Daily Post’s photo challenge. I didn’t post my final watercolor painting since the friend who had asked me to do it planned to give it as a gift. Now that the recipient has received the gift, here is my final painting.
Every watercolor painting I do is unique, an original. This is true even if I am painting the same subject again, trying to get the second one to look like the first time. Variations in color, the jiggle of my arm when painting an edge, or changes in temperature and humidity which affect the paint’s drying speed all combine to make each watercolor an original, unique.
Karen Bailey, an Australian artist, asked me to repaint a couple of pictures I did last summer, and as I approached the task, I found myself almost paralyzed by the fear of failure. What if I couldn’t paint it again and make it look like the first time? Hollyhocks are not in season now, and I painted the first one from life. I tried all kinds of delaying tactics and excuses – studying the shadow shapes, looking at alternate compositions, and even working on other projects, rather than face the prospect of failure. But as I grew embarrassed at how long this was taking me, I finally got down to work and did another step each day.
Hollyhocks (the first time):
Hollyhocks (the second time):
Hopefully I will remember the next time I go to repaint a picture that not trying is worse than failing, since it is, after all, just paint and paper.
BEYOND the doors of the ark lies safety for all who enter. There is no indication that there has ever been rain, but Noah and his family have built the ark, trusting in God and what he has said to them. They are trusting in someone BEYOND their understanding to save them from a situation BEYOND their own strengths or abilities.
I have struggled all week to think of a picture to represent this week’s theme, and finally realized that this project (the request of a friend) would do the job. I am in the process of transferring this drawing to a sheet of watercolor paper, using some homemade graphite paper. I will then ink in the lines in sepia and add some watercolor washes.
The illumination in this watercolor painting is all from my imagination. I took a picture of this scene in the daytime, with cars and pedestrians and the sun shining. My challenge to myself when painting it was to paint the scene as a nighttime picture, with the clock tower illuminated against the night sky.
This is the village of Torgiano, in Umbria, Italy.