An Afternoon’s Study

After spending the last month working small – on 7×10 paper – and using both gouache and regular watercolor, I felt the need for something big and expansive!  This means broad strokes, rapid washes, focusing and thinking ahead at the same time.  That is what I find when I work with really wet watercolors, and much of this study was done with washes bleeding into another.

Not feeling especially original, and totally delighted that Edo Hannema uploaded another tutorial after a few months absence from YouTube, I decided to follow along with his video.

If you are not familiar with Edo Hannema, he is a watercolorist located in Holland. As Holland is a very flat country, he is much influenced by skies and extensive landscape. Water is also a strong element in many of his landscapes.

For me, it is a real pleasure to follow his practice videos, in part because I live in such a dry part of the world! Additionally, he is candid about what he is doing. For instance, if he doesn’t like a bit of his painting, he says it right out loud. As someone who struggles to paint and make my watercolor look good, it is so reassuring to find other painters get as frustrated or annoyed as I do when something doesn’t go the way I want it to. At one point in his video he talks about the tall tree in the left center of the painting. “I hate this!” I can understand that frustration. When the houses nearby don’t go as planned, he tells the viewer to make the best of the situation. That is what you have to do in watercolor.

As you can see, my sky is quite violent compared to his gentle one – I kept getting blooms for some reason, and struggled to get rid of them.  Another element of my own painting was my determination to keep my brushes clean!  World Watercolor Month 2019 really brought that point home to me.  I managed to do it pretty well.

Daily practice takes work.  Tomorrow, I hope to work on gouache color swatches, using whites to create variations in tonality of a given color, as well as working with complementary colors to achieve greys.  That should prove to be an interesting adventure.

A Dutch Landscape – After Edo Hannema

Today was a day of “firsts.”  I decided to paint a big painting for me – 16×20 inches.  I also chose to use a more professional paper than I have been; here, 140# cold press Arches.

I wanted to test out how Arches handles water – lots of water.  Hannema is the master of the wash and wet paper approach.  His current paper is Saunders Waterford, which is different, of course, from Arches.  I think the Arches handled the water really well.  I, on the other hand, still need to master my washes.  Blooms are visible here and there, and I need to learn how to control those or eliminate them if I find them later on.

The palette of colors I used was initially what Hannema used:  ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, and raw sienna.  Because I did not like greens I was getting, I threw in some sap green.  If I had used yellow ochre, perhaps my greens would have been more satisfactory – something to make a mental note of to try next time around.

I always learn from a video.  As I have mentioned, water is one thing I am working on, along with buildings.  Today, I wanted to just work with a new paper and a lot of water.  The study was successful altogether methinks.

Below is Edo Hannema’s painting tutorial:

Mists and Blurs

Wetness in watercolor varies.  There are times when a very dry brush on dry paper is necessary to give sharp, clear edges to an object.  Then there is wet-on-dry wherein washes are applied to dry paper with a lot of water.  And finally, wet-in-wet, where wet color is applied to wet paper.  As the paper dries, the color behaves differently.  There is so much to learn in watercolor!

Of late, I have been painting with a lot of water and a lot of color.  It’s a challenge, but daily painting is yielding better results overall.  Not every day, but overall!  Yesterday, I watched a number of videos, and did two studies based on videos by Rick Surowicz and Edo Hannema.

This one is from an early video by Surowicz.  He used some frisket, but my bottle was not working, so I painted without it.  I really needed it as his style is not just wet, but sopping wet!  He uses a fine mist sprayer to scoot paint around.  The result can be quite nice as you build layers of colors on layers of color.  I did this painting on Strathmore 400 paper, a paper I don’t especially like, so I was quite pleased with how it handled all the water.  The palette consisted of three colors – sap green, indanthrene blue, and a bit of Indian red.

Edo Hannema is a master of the wash.  I enjoy using his videos as study guides.  The above painting is my favorite of the two I did yesterday.  The palette was limited to raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue.  The green was a mixture of cobalt and raw sienna.  One thing I really like about Hannema’s videos is he tells you when he thinks he makes a mistake, or needs to fix something in his painting, as well as tips on using colors.  It’s rather like eavesdropping on the artist.

I decided to look at mists and soft edges because the other day Rick Surowicz posted a video about mist rising below a mountain ridge – Overlook:

This was a good video to watch on how to create a mist or fog.  He also has another one called Misty Lake which was the one I used in my above studies:

Edo Hannema is a master at wet-in-wet techniques, which are great for fogs and soft effects.  The horizon of this painting video demonstrates this quite well.  The thing that is especially fun about the video below is the fact he took a painting he did of this scene in the summer and converted it to winter:

I find using practice videos helpful in learning techniques.  They are also helpful in thinking about how I paint versus how I want to paint.  Like many beginners, I put in far too much detail, and my own impatience impairs final results far too often.  Letting the paper dry is important, and I am learning to do that – my hair dryer is hanging within easy reach!  Leaving white paper is getting more “natural” in feeling, so I am thinking ahead as well.

Nowadays, I find I am plotting out paintings in my head.  Daily painting is another big step forward as I now have the time to spend on it without a million other things demanding my time weighing me down with guilt – chores and duties or the pleasures of a hobby.