I had so much fun working with this scene on masa paper. My sister has been generous enough to share photos of her journeys along the east coastline of Lake Michigan. She is a “lake girl”. I fell in love with the colors of this scene and the chair waiting for someone to come and sit in it. Thank you, Sis!
This lion was painted on masa paper, a rice paper that can be crinkled, soaked in water, toned, dried and glued to the surface of watercolor paper in order to provide a watercolor artist a different surface to paint on. The textural possibilities are varied and, oftentimes, very interesting. They, generally, take me longer to paint, but the extra time spent is well worth it. I have several tutorials. The first one is located here. The update is located here.
If you would like to view a selection of the paintings I have completed on masa, just click the tag, masa paper, under the title of this post.
In my recent composition class, I gave an assignment asking the artists to create a tree like no tree they had ever seen before and include a number and a word or words. There were so many interesting paintings that came from this assignment. You can see some of them on the Student Page here.
The above tree is my rendition. It is a combination of watercolor, ink, rice paper collage and collage. The entire background was created, first, last year. I had wanted to do an abstract painting that resembled bark and had torn pieces of fibered rice paper and glued them to the surface using a two parts acrylic matte medium, one part water glue. I then painted the bark-like forms with browns siennas and olive greens. I pulled this bark-like thing out of my stow-aways (unfinished things) and drew a humongous trunk of a tree and reaching branches on it using waterproof ink, which I spritzed with water, before it dried. It caused the ink to spread and follow various fibers and the edges of the torn rice papers, enhancing the bark-like look and feel. I let that dry overnight. I then painted into the tree trunk with darker tones of siennas and greens and browns and let that dry overnight. I found the word “Major” running across the trunk and darkened the rambling letters with ink. You might make it out if you study it carefully. The letters are wiggly and ghost-like starting with an “M” at the base of the trunk on the left and the tails of the “R” end at the figure’s leg on the right. I added the ghost-like figure, next. May I mention that this became all-consuming as I created and I enjoyed every minute of the time it took to ramble around this tree? There is a huge figure of a woman kneeling, made up of the left side of the trunk and spreading arms of two of the large branches. Her nipples are quite distinct as knotholes on that side. It is as though her head is tossed back and she is rejoicing in the light of day. Enlarge the piece, stand back and look for her. You may see her, too!
I found words in a magazine that I wanted to include in my tree. There are four eyes in this tree and a bird (colored black like a silhouette). Can you find them? I chose blue and gray citra solv papers to cut the leaves from and glued them on. I wanted them to have a shimmering effect. I don’t know that I achieved that, but tried. I so enjoyed working on this and wish every painting I ever created was this much fun. I felt like the imagery was giving back every bit as much as I gave to it as it changed on the surface of the paper. By far, the most enjoyable mixed media I have ever worked on.
We began this drawing class by learning to “see”, drawing objects, blindly, with what is called blind continuous line. We, then, drew continuous line drawings while looking, paying careful attention to the cross contours in our subject material.
We studied negative space and began to recognize when we could use the shape and space behind an object to help us describe the subject.
The students worked very hard to begin to see perspective and to measure the angles of lines with their pencils. They used a corner of a room as their subject.
During the fourth week, they cut photos in strips and practiced laying in three values. They worked from black and white as well as color photos to do this.
They studied the values they saw in a glass, still life study.
They learned to grid a photograph and measure and enlarge that photograph by creating a proportionate grid on their drawing paper.
They studied drawing their self portraits. If you wish to view a larger selection of their drawings you can find them by clicking here or by scrolling to the top of the page and clicking on the small label Student Art: Beginning Drawing. If you click on each drawing, they will enlarge. Thank you to all the fine artists who took this class!
The above paintings were created by some of the students who just finished the six week composition class. We discussed center of interest and where to place it, value and contrast, how to attract attention, how best to divide a page. Three of their assignments required that they be extra creative. If you would like to view more of the paintings from this session, I have devoted a page to their beautiful work here.
Thank you to all my students!
The assignment for my Creative Challenge class was to Paint an edifice. I chose to work from a reference I had taken years ago of the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois. I lost the white when I painted the shadows and resorted to using white. I don’t like to do that but it surely gives weight to this building. My building appears much older and aged than the glorious real Baha’i Temple. But!!!!! I learned I will need to be more delicate and light with my washes on white buildings and maybe make it less of a challenge.
Recently, I gave an assignment to my Creative Challenge class that brought up some interesting responses. The assignment was: Paint something “you” think is ugly and make it beautiful. Almost everyone questioned what I meant by ugly. Some responded that they could find beauty in almost anything. Others saw beauty in the ugly before they even began to paint. I thought all these responses were so interesting. One little assignment brought with it such thought! As it turned out, not a one of their paintings was ugly. They all achieved beauty from something they thought was ugly.
This assignment made me think of something I learned from an instructor a long time ago. She said, “We all spend time creating drawings and paintings of things we love. The real learning and improvement takes place when we try something new. We have to rely on “seeing” the form, feeling the edges and become accustomed to something new.” That is what happened with me, with the above painting. I chose the snake as my “ugly”. She almost immediately became beautiful when I studied all the intricate patterns and the shapes of her scales. I decided to give her a bit of a grin. The patterns of dark strips of color was there for me to do that. I learned it was not so much her looks that I thought ugly but how she had to constrict her prey and devour it whole. Just another example of how we categorize things, in our minds, without looking deeper.
If you study this carefully, you can see where I added some citra- solv collage.
I do not know what kind of Python this is. I did some searches and think it may be a Burmese Python by the markings. The Indian Rock Python has shapely patterns, also, but they do not seem to have that golden glow in the center of the pattern. Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference image for this.
I need to kick-start myself into painting more frequently. Everything is getting in the way!
I had fun with this lion. I used a limited palette of about five colors. They were Arctic Ice, Raw Sienna, Copper Kettle, Halloween Orange and Sepia.
I began by cropping my reference photo so the lion’s eye was near an area that is good for a focal point. I drew the lion and splattered the surface of the painting with frisket, using a small brush. I wanted the resulting splatter to be tiny pinpricks of texture throughout the lion’s mane and shoulder. I began by mapping out where I wanted my most dominant darks. I know! Opposite of what the watercolor books say. I think that once you learn the basics, you can allow yourself some freedom of expression and there are some subjects that I build from light to dark and others where I map out the dark areas, first. I almost always push the darks even farther during my final steps in the painting.
Next, I concentrated on the midtones and light wash shapes in and throughout the face area. This is where I want to draw my viewer’s eye, so I try to feel for the contours of the lion’s face, around the nose, eye, brow and muzzle. It helps to define what portions of the lion’s face bumps out and what rolls in and gives the face more of a 3-D feel and not read so flat.
This is the step I washed in, very loose and wet, a background. I painted around the whisker dots on the muzzle and filled in the shapes in the eye and the nose. I added the background blue in heavy and light washes in and around the painting. I always bring my background colors into the foreground. I feel this gives a painting better balance. It takes a simple background and gives it a reason for being and helps to create a feeling that the subject is a part of the environment he is in rather than pasted on. I chose this particular blue because this painting is for a Detroit Lion fan.
In the final step I do all the tiny detail work and enhance some areas. I darkened and detailed the eye. I darkened the fleshtones in the nose. I defined more shapes around the eye. I darkened and defined the muzzle around the whiskers so the frisket areas would show up. I enhanced the shadow shapes under the chin, both sides of the ear and far brow line with Halloween Orange. I darkened all the shadow shapes. I removed the frisket once the painting was dry.
Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference for this lion.
I have painted this wave once before on masa paper here. This time I wanted to try something a little different. I had read in a book titled “Terry’s Top Tips for Watercolour Artists” (by Terry Harrison) that he sometimes uses a sponge to create the white foam on the tops of waves or I think they are sometimes referred to as whitecaps.
I have outlined how to use liquid frisket with a brush in another post here. Using the frisket with a sponge is much the same.
Left to right are my frisket supplies. Frisket can be referred to as masking fluid or drawing gum, also. On the left is my rubber pick up. This is used after your painting has dried and you need to remove the frisket to expose the white of the paper. You do so by carefully rubbing this across the surface. It removes the frisket much like an eraser. I have two kinds of frisket in the photo. The incredible white mask is pretty thick and I only use that when I am not too concerned about exactness, like for splattering and such. The other is Pebeo Drawing Gum. This is my favorite. I like it because it is runnier and easier to work with when using it for tiny areas that need more detail. Next is a small jar of brush cleaning soap and last is my frisket brush.
Above are examples of some of the sponges I have used. When I purchase sponges, I try to look for new shapes to add to my collection so I get a variety. The large one in the center top is the one I chose for this painting. I tested several on scrap paper to see which one would be best suited for what I needed for the white shapes on the wave.
I began by drawing a guideline or two for the rock shapes on my watercolor paper (140 lb Arches Rough). I then prepared my sponge by dipping it in water and allowing it to become soggy. I squeezed out as much of the water as I could. This makes the sponge “thirsty and ready to work. I spritzed some water onto my soap dish and dipped my damp sponge in that first. This makes the outer surface of your sponge shapes a little slippery and will help you get the frisket off when the time comes to rinse. I then dipped my sponge in a puddle of frisket that I poured into an old dish (small to not waste the frisket). I began dabbing the frisket on the contours of the wave, emulating what I saw in my reference photo. I am very careful to rinse and repeat these steps so the frisket never begins to dry on my sponge. I used the sponge for some of the foamy water in the foreground, also. I immediately rinsed my sponge out when I finished so the frisket did not dry in it. I have read about a landscape artist who allows the frisket to build up on sponges and old brushes and he re-uses them. He gets some very interesting textural effects with these. I used my brush and more frisket in the foreground to paint in some of the lines and roiling shapes I saw there. Before continuing, I wait for the frisket to dry.
Next, I chose several blues and painted the sky and the shadow shapes in the waves and allowed that to dry.
I mixed a darker blue for the ocean behind the wave and painted it in very wet. Note the lighter areas around the wave that look kind of foggy. Prior to the dark blue wash drying, I dabbed around the top of the wave with a tissue (non-lotion tissue) and softened the edges of these foggy shapes. I painted in the dark rocky forms with dark earth-tones. I allowed the painting to dry again.
I removed all the frisket ; rubbing the surface with the rubber pick up.
I finished by darkening some of the blues in the foreground and in the darkest areas of the wave. I splattered the top of the wave using a small #4 round and white gouache.
Thank you to wet canvas for the reference photo for this.
Happy New Year to all of you! Thank you for following my blog over the years. I enjoy visiting you and seeing your work and learning the new things you are exploring.