42. Studies from Kautzky

After the disastrous lilies, I had a good think.  I really am not a decorative painter at heart.  What I love most are landscapes.  The outdoors is to me the most exciting thing . . . mountains, water, trees.  Thus, with this in mind, I pulled out the very first “how to” art book I ever bought, back when I was 16:  Ways with Watercolor by Ted Kautzky.  I still love this book and find his style and words soothing and thoughtful.  To ease my frustration, I did two of his exercises.  The first below is in 2 colors only, ultramarine blue and burnt umber.

The next one is in three colors:  burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and Hooker’s Green.

Kautzky’s palette of colors is one with which I am comfortable and familiar, so it was very reaffirming to feel somewhat skilled after the lilies fiasco.  That really upset my little apple cart!

40.1 Lilies

Well – let’s just say that the lilies suck.  The masking fluid tore up the surface of the paper, which is student grade to begin with, and the soap suds from straight dishwashing soap seemed to have remove the sizing – or a lot of it – from the paper.  The paper itself is good for studies with less water, and I enjoy using it for play and experimentation.

The lilies are out of proportion.  Rather a disappointing experience, to say the least.

Still, I am inclined to want to think about this painting.  In reality, this style of painting is better suited, in my opinion, to a graphic presentation.  It’s not “painterly” in the way I want to do watercolors.  If nothing else, that is my take-away from this experience.

Besides being too graphic for my taste in watercolor, the masking fluid was a disaster.  Straight dishwashing soap does not work on the paper, even though my brush didn’t suffer in the least.  I’ve used a diluted soap solution with better results.  I also would prefer to not use masking, simply because I want to keep the process as clean as possible, with few if any extras in the way of the process.

In the end, I think learning what you don’t like is fundamental to many things, whether it’s a job or a way of painting.  This helps to focus your thoughts on your goals because you rid yourself of an unwanted item.  I still plan to focus on negative painting, but want to find a different way to approach it.

40. Lilies

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I am an impatient person, particularly when it comes to painting watercolor.  The look of spontaneous painting requires forethought and planning, even for the simplest of pictures.  I keep falling for that lie!  Therefore, in an effort to tame my monkey mind, I decided to work on negative painting, which is not an easy thing to do.  Looking through YouTube, I found a lovely example of negative painting by Krzysztof Kowalski, which you can view below.

This painting study requires the usage of masking fluid in addition to working up layers of colors.  My sketch came out fairly good, as you can see below, but the first layer of water over the masking fluid turned rather comical.

I didn’t dilute my dishwashing soap before dipping my brush in it, then the mask.  The result, when I began to wet the paper, was soap suds!  Okay, dilute it next time.  I think the density of the dish soap also may not allow the masking fluid to adhere properly – I’ll find this out when I begin to remove it.  I spent a few hours painting the layers; this is my afternoon’s work.

39. Squash

Today I have a lot to do, so I thought the best way to start the day would be to do another watercolor pencil drawing.  As I have little to no experience using them, the only way to learn is to use them.  I am making a pencil sketch in a sketch book, and then filling in layers of color before beginning to wet the colors laid down.  The idea is to replicate glazing to a degree.  When I reach a point I like, then I wet a brush, and move from light to dark, maybe moving the brush in a given direction, or not.  Then, more colors, more wetting, and so on.  Below is the final result.

I am not sure that by themselves watercolor pencils are capable of strong contrast.  It seems lines – ink lines – may be helpful.  Or, the pencils themselves can be used in conjunction with other water media, such as watercolors or acrylics or gouache.

Here is the series I scanned in as I moved along.  Click on the pencil drawing to start the series, beginning to end.

38. Morning Frog

I decided to do a quick watercolor pencil sketch before I got ready for work.

First the shape, then the laying down of colors.  The point of this was to be quick!  I just chose colors I thought would work – about 5 or 6 pencils.

Final result.  I used a small round, and worked the lightest areas and moved into darker.  Where I needed more contrast or detail, I used the pencil in the watery areas.

Total time:  about 20 minutes from beginning to end.  Below is each step.

35. Pewter Inkwell, or Distortion in the Morning

This morning I was feeling restless and unfocused while I was drinking my morning coffee.  I wanted to do something, but have felt all scrambled this week, partly because routines have changed in the later part of the day and are rather disruptive of the normal routines.  So, something mindless.  Then I saw my ca. 1810 pewter inkwell with its ceramic insert.  The decision was to draw it using the dip pen sitting nearby.  Well, grogginess and a general inability to draw circles are the result – ovals are even harder – and perspective?  Well, the results speak for themselves!

Retrospective

I was rummaging through the files on my desk, and came across a collection of sumi-e ink, ink and color, and watercolor or acrylic paintings I did a long time ago.  Some of these are “aceo” size, which measure 2×3.5 inches, and others are other papers.  I used to sell these on Ebay, too.  Maybe I need to go through and scan some more – it’s like tea and madeleines – memories and reminders.