Wow! One of my students gifted me with one of his old watercolor books and I have been pouring through all sorts of ideas on techniques he (Valfred Thelin) suggests. I settled down to try one of them this week and had a great time! Lots of chuckling. He spoke of drawing ink sketches with a razor blade and waterproof black ink and then painting them. You put ink in a saucer or ashtray with a low rim; he suggests an ashtray as good for this. I used an old saucer. Something deeper makes a mess as you reach in to dip the blade of the razor in the ink. Then, all you do is dip the blade and begin drawing with it. I had to dip and draw a lot. Sometimes the blade would drop more ink, sometimes only a hairline.
The above drawing was my first attempt. He suggests that it is a quick way to get a subject down on paper and that the marks of the razor blade enhance any movement and adds to the interest of the subject. He uses ink to sketch people and sporting events a lot. I was not real happy with the above horse but did like the interesting marks it made. The darker marks were made by sliding the entire blade across the surface with several strokes. The thinner lines were drawn by tilting the blade and using one corner to draw with.
I drew a herd of horses and decided this was the one I would use for a painting. Thank you to wet canvas for the photo references for this. I used two different ones and combined them into one composition.
I began by laying large washes behind the horses.
I finished by painting each horse and splattering the foreground.
I will use this technique again. I like the loose and sketchy line the razor blade leaves on the paper. I do think it enhances the movement of a piece.
The book I used is titled “Watercolor: Let the Medium Do It” by Valfred Thelin with Patricia Burlin.
I wanted to try something other than a landscape on the gesso juice surface. I love experimenting on this surface.
Thank you to wet canvas library for the image of the horse.
I found the reference for this little guy in the Wet Canvas photo reference library. The original photograph was taken by Cathy Sheeter. Thank you!
The above painting is the one I chose to paint for an assignment in my current landscape class. The assignment was to paint a landscape with trees paying careful attention to how you handled greens as well as what techniques you might use to re-create their textures. One could also insert a building or figure in their landscape, paying attention to its placement and form.
I used greens from my palette but mixed them with yellows, reds and magenta to calm down the garish look of brightness greens seem to produce when used alone. This has been a specific problem with greens for me. I used frisket for the dead pine tree right of center and pointillistic marks combined with wet-in-wet to render the other trees in this landscape. I was very careful to render the curvey forms of the buckskin horse, in the foreground, accurately. I tried to establish his form by painting his values correctly. His shoulders pierce the “sweet spot” for a center of interest in the lower left quadrant so I left him as he was in the photo reference. What I was most concerned with capturing was the brilliance of light throughout this scene, both in the horse and the landscape. I am very pleased with the combinations of colors that I chose to subdue my greens and will continue to experiment with this challenge, in the future. One of the students in my class never uses greens for his foliage and trees, choosing to use combinations of blues and yellows and neutralizing that with other colors and his look great!
I painted the above portrait of a Welsh Mountain Pony from a photo reference by Gary Jones from the Paint My Photo site.
I used liquid frisket to create the mane and the whiskers. I created the remainder of the portrait with a limited palette of harvest gold, prussian blue, burnt sienna, sepia and permanent rose. The twist of the neck, the shapes around her muzzle and the mane were challenges I wanted to try to capture with this portrait.
The photo reference for this painting came from the photo reference library on wet canvas. A student of mine found the photo and offered it to me to try. Thank you, Henn!
Due to lack of time to paint, recently, I have been working on these two horses for about a month of short sessions. I decided to try 140 lb Hot Press paper due to the detail in the wood grain and because I wanted something a little more realistic. I am still a novice with hot press paper but like it for painting horse portraiture. What intrigued me the most about this scene were the shapes; the straight mechanical lines against the organic lines of the horses’ heads. This portrait was painted in layers. I painted the background areas right along with the horses’ heads. That helped me to be able to see the values and save my light areas. The most difficult part for me was the wood.
Recently I began a watercolor portrait class. When I have taught this class, in prior years, we have jumped right in and begun drawing and painting the whole portrait. About halfway through each class I begin to get questions about how to: paint an eye, paint a nose, paint a mouth. This year I decided to begin the class a little different and demonstrated how I paint an eye and a nose. How there is not much to either but that we rarely take time to study them, separately, in previous classes. This year we took an entire week to just paint pieces and parts of the face and it has made a huge difference. We discussed how much brighter our colors were if we mixed them on the paper as opposed to the palette. We worked with layering the colors on the paper, or mingling them wet-in-wet and came up with examples like the above. Note the various colors to make the grays in the horse’s mouth or the indications of red and gold in the tiger’s black stripes. Both those colors were created with layers of varying reds, yellows and blues. We discussed the varying shades of reds and yellows and blues we had available to create skin tones and how much more vibrant those tones were when we painted them wet-in-wet and reserved the darker tones for the shadows or the rosey colors for the cheeks. We talked about shadows cast under the eyelid, on an eye, or under the upper lip on the teeth.
Next we put these pieces and parts together and just created faces. That seemed to get this class rolling and there have been fewer problems with face parts as a result. I created the following faces:
The above painting was painted from a reference photo taken by Michael Yates and posted to Paint My Photo. It is a site where artists can share their photos and their artwork of others’ photos offered on the site. I learned of this site while reading a post on Nicola’s blog, Pointy Pix.
I was attracted to the bits of light and shadow in this photo and wanted to see if I could paint it. PLUS! With the heat we are having this summer, standing in a cool stream seems just the best thing! Smart horses.
This week I returned to working on Masa paper. I believe it is my favorite way to watercolor. The crinkles seem to add that extra something to the way I paint. For a tutorial to learn how to prepare your masa paper’s surface for painting click here and here.
The reference photo for the above painting was from the Wet Canvas Library. I really don’t know what this farmer is doing. That is the strangest plow I’ve ever seen. It appears to have a straight blade on either side of that wooden platform the boy is sitting on. I am wondering if it is something that just makes the furrows for a garden and that is why the woman is motioning what she wants the farmer to do? Maybe someone viewing this could give me a tip as to what that piece of equipment is.
The above painting came from a reference photo that I took one evening (several years ago) about four miles north of where I live. There is a large Amish community in this area and I was out and about gathering photos of scenes I wanted to paint. The “Holstein” painting I posted, last year, came from this excursion. This was painted on toned masa paper glued to the illustration board. Yay! Only one more, adhered to illustration board, and I am running back to glueing my masa to Arches coldpress. What I have learned is that I have to know where I am going with the illustration board. It does not accept the layers and the colors that the Arches does. Think two layers and I am OK, but these paintings do look different.
*Note: Recently, my free time has been eaten up by other matters. Free time is when I paint. For the time being, my time online is limited but I will post when I have something new to share and will visit all of you at that time and look forward to the time I can pick up speed once again!!!!