Springtime – moving into summer – and after finishing up a sweater I just had to cut loose. The watercolors were out, a piece of paper that wasn’t too warped from another painting, and I just went to work. This wasn’t really planned, but I did use resist to keep areas white, as well as decided to throw in a building, flowers, and a tree. A transitional world – sweater to watercolor portending hot weather next week.
Outside my studio window is a small California Redbud. It really needs more sunshine to show off its flowers – there is too much shade on the western side of my house, and so it does not bloom very often or very much. Still, it is a lovely tree. Slender branches, heart-shaped leaves that change color and drop in the autumn. Local birds like to hang out in its branches.
Today, I tried to express the beauty of several redbuds in bloom, with spring growth abounding in new leaves. I drew the trees first, then used frisket – a lot of it – in the forms of lines and dots. From there, the background was laid in, using varying colors to represent leaves, flowers, and other trees or branches. The frisket was then removed, and trunks painted using warm and cool greys. Afterward, magentas and yellow greens, warm and cool. It was all rather splattery! Finally, after everything dried, white dots applied to suggest spring insects and twinkling sunlight.
Not entirely pleased. As a realistic painting, it fails; however, as an abstract, it has potential.
A while back I read an article that a 19th century artist – it may be John Singer Sargent – used wax as a resist in watercolor painting. That was a bit of a surprise as I never thought a “professional” painter would do that. We used crayons and watercolors together in elementary school, and it was a lot of fun. Not having any crayons, I got out a white candle and scribbled away in a palm tree sort of shape. Then I painted, beginning with the yellows and then moving into darker colors. I don’t recall many of the colors I used, but they do include Yellow Ochre, Hooker’s Green, May Green, Payne’s Grey, Ruby Red, Cerulean Blue, Ultramarine Blue. The wax served to keep white spaces white, obviously. And, I actually used negative painting ti create some of the shapes in the fronds and trunk of the tree.
Another practice study from Peter Sheeler. Here he uses masking tape – painters tape – to create a frisket. He tore pieces of tape and pressed them into the paper, as a resist to the dry brush technique he used to create the sense of a very windy laundry day. As a kid, I remember those days, pegging the clothes and sheets. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, but always worth the smell of fresh air on your sheets when you went to bed.
First, here is the picture with the “laundry” masked with randomly torn bits of painter’s tape.
And here is the final picture. To frame the picture, I used more tape around the edges of the picture. If you watch the video, you’ll see why!