Tag: Arches 140# CP watercolor paper

Winter in Hill Country

I needed a change of pace – a way to relax – after yesterday’s very intense painting of buildings and people. It’s nice to visit familiar territory. But, I was not without goals. Here I worked on subtle gradations and color change in the sky; misty / soft trees in the horizon using moist paper to blur and indicate distance; a couple of buildings with subtle rooftops; snow. On Arches CP 140#, 9×12.

Winter Storm

When I first started to paint in watercolor – like when I was a teenager! – the advice was to use a brush bigger than what you think you need. Yeah, right. Over the years, I have resisted this, but lately I have been doing the majority of my painting with a 1.5 inch flat brush. From there, different brushes with different ideas in mind.

Here, 16×20 CP 140# Arches. I sponged the entire paper with water and then set in the sky. From there, the water and grasses along the shore, working to get blurring of colors into the wet paint. Then, the horizon with the same 1.5 inch brush. I let it dry.

From that point, it was a matter of thought. Initially, the sky dried to a pale color, so I laid in more dark paint for the sky, using a spray bottle to move the paint around, and holding the painting by hand, tilted the paper this way and that to run the paint in various directions.

Looking at it upside down always gives a new perspective, sometimes good, sometimes not. I added some dry brush for the weeds, and used a wet mixture of blues for the snow shadows. I also painted a darker version of the same snow blue into the distant water, moving it into the weeds / reeds. Then, more dry brush once the water had dried to overlap the paint I applied.

This is a stronger painting than some of my more more recent ones, and I will credit the large, flat brush forcing me to work simply. It’s actually much more fun, and easier, in many ways, because I am not getting finicky to the point of crazy.

Progress is being made!

Wetlands

Another wet-into-wet painting, but this time with more challenges and a longer painting period. As before, 140# Arches CP paper.

The goal of this painting was to get away from trees and aim for seeing how using a very wet piece of paper could be worked for skies and water along with plant life, from rushes and grasses to distant trees. The style itself lends itself more to softness in general, but with judicious brushwork and glazes, more defined areas were achieved. I also used white gouache to represent a tasseled top to the tall reeds (or whatever) in the middle right of the painting; I realized I might have achieved an airier effect by splattering some frisket in the areas I wanted white.

I painted the majority of the picture last night, working glazes over areas more defined to blend them in more harmoniously. Dry brush was used for the the foreground and in areas where a rough edge was needed to show plants.

I don’t think this painting is as good as the one I did previously. The contrast is not good enough to convey distance – too strong of colors were used to paint the reeds and trees in the horizon. I do like the colors and softness, though. Another point of focus was to create a point of focus! I tried to use birds, warm colors in the center of the painting, a bit of a vignette around the edges, and other visual tricks to lead the eye somewhere. Again, I don’t think I had much success. As well, the sky and land do not seem to match.

I did accomplish a few things I set out to do – wet-into-wet with some control for sky and plants and water. Doing it is a lesson in itself, and each painting teaches something. I worked on the painting last night and then refined it this morning. I had more patience than I usually demonstrate when painting in watercolor. Why is that? Is it because watercolor is wet and watery and seems to demand a bit of speed?

Anyway, more to come, more to learn.

Early Morning

Another wet, wet painting in watercolor.

Here, I wet the paper, and then began putting in areas of color, beginning with the sky in the central part of the painting, and then blobbing down the foliage in the foreground and the distance. The line of the slope was separated from the horizon beyond. As things dried, I blobbed on more colors, and continued to work wet-into-wet as the paper dried. In the end, I was able to draw the trunks of the distant trees without their blurring using diluted colors of the darker tree trunks.

It’s really hard to describe how to do a painting like this. In doing these kinds of paintings I am finding it is necessary to have a sense of the composition itself – lights, darks, soft shapes, hard edges. It is also necessary to think about negative and positive space while painting, as well as the overall effect desired. I worked light to dark, and strove to keep the earliest colors as separate as possible from others. In the end, I used glazes to unify areas with color as well as worked with thick paint and a very dry brush for some detail.

140# CP Arches, 16×20. It took about 3 hours to work on, using time in between to dry the paper with a blow dryer or let the water get absorbed into the paper so softer edges could be achieved.

Of the 3 “splish splash” paintings I have done, this one is my favorite. This technique works very well for areas with a lot of foliage, but what about ocean scenes, skies, and so on? That is next on my agenda for this method.

This was a lot of fun – I hope you like it!

Trees, Late Afternoon

Third and last of a photo I took earlier this month in Independence, CA, before being driven back home because of Covid. I am not sure which of the three of these paintings I did of the same photo I like best (you can back track on this blog if you want to see them, or go to Instagram!), but this one, in acrylic, was by far the most time-consuming.

I used 16×20 Arches 140# CP paper and a variety of acrylic paints, but first I laid down a few layers of gesso to prep the surface of the paper. The first layer of gesso was thinned with water and brushed on quite firmly to work it into the paper itself. The paper warped as watercolor paper does, but I was really happy to see it flatten out with the second, thicker layer of gesso.

Most of my brushwork tends toward dabbing on dots, which is great for pointillism and impressionistic painting, so I worked at creating lines, as seen on the grasses in the background, along with using a flat brush and using its tip or sides to work paint in a more up / down, side-to-side manner. My next painting is going to include these types of brush strokes, just because. It never hurts to try things you don’t usually do.

Every type of media – watercolor, gouache, acrylics – has its own “language” – that is, the way you have to work with it. Acrylics are rather heavy on paper and I need to think ahead for what I want to do. I tried the slower drying acrylic paints, and just did not like them. As a result, the ones I use tend to dry rather quickly. Filling the palette with every color I think I might want to use is a waste of paint. Instead, I have to plan, not like a general, but certainly I need to anticipate what comes first, what comes next, and so on. I also have to think about brushes and brushwork. Painting can be spontaneous, but it also needs experience to allow for more success (however you want to define “success”) than failure.

One thing I considered for this painting, but did not do, was to lay down a glaze to unify it. Chicken! Maybe I will come back to it later. Now, two things are on my next painting agenda: buildings and no dabbing! And maybe a glaze . . .