Experimental Watercolor Practice

I have been working through some of the exercises in Ann Blockley’s book Watercolour Workshop. I finally purchased watercolor paints in tubes. I got a set of QOR watercolors by Golden. It has definitely been a learning experience. The wetness of the watercolors makes a huge difference in the results and how dry or wet they are on the paper.

Here is one of the first ones I tried. I keep getting the sky blotchy by dropping water or other paint on it before it’s dried. I added a bit of oil pastels to the foreground of this one. I am trying out different techniques that she suggests in the book. All of these pieces are a quarter of a sheet of 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper. I am trying some new paper as well, cold press and rough.

This one was not an exercise in Ann Blockley’s book but a warm up with different colors. It has at least three layers of paint. I have a hard time leaving any white when I’m painting.

I liked the leaf technique for this one. The flower is a bit wonky looking but this one turned out OK.

This one is only partially completed. I have done the first layer and have let it dry. Now I need to work into it a bit to give it a few more details. I should have left white areas in the tree foliage but again, didn’t manage to do that. At least I have a few lighter areas. I need a lot more practice but I do feel that I’m learning something with each one.

Hope you’re having a great day!

Packing for Exhibition and a Sketch

I spent most of the day packing all my stuff up for my last art and design class and exhibition. I was trying to keep the amount down but I am not sure how well I succeeded.

Here’s the pile of stuff I am taking. Of course this doesn’t include any clothing or personal items. Just art stuff. The pile is at least four feet tall. Hopefully, everything will fit into the truck!

Here’s a sketch I drew last week. It is of a succulent plant that is in my window. I wanted to highlight just the plant. And I used a water soluble graphite pencil for this one. I like the smooth tones it gives you when you wet it down with a brush.

Thanks for stopping by!

River Rocks Complete

I finished up the river rock painting. I sprayed it with fixative (Thanks Paula!) and then did more painting on top.

So here’s the piece with water added. I had to do several layers to get the shadows and the highlights working better. But I’m pleased with the outcome. Painting water is hard!

This ruffed grouse was in the choke cherry tree behind our house. My brother-in-law got a great photo that I used to sketch by. He or she has some beautiful feathers and after sketching him/her, I can see why the name is Ruffed Grouse. He/she definitely has a ruff around his/her neck. And this bird is hefty! It’s in the same family as chickens and he/she did look like a chicken in the tree.

Have a great weekend!

River Rock Painting

I had another experimental painting that I used textured gesso and then applied paint.

It looks pretty boring here for sure. But some of the textures looked like rocks. So I sketched in the rock shapes with pencil.

I then added water colors to create the rock shapes. So far so good. The gesso textures really helped to give the rocks some character. But now I decided I needed to add water and make it look like a river bed with water flowing over and around the rocks. Uh oh, now I would need to figure out how to paint water. I watched several Youtube videos and printed out some photos of river beds in Montana. The rock colors are similar to what we have here.

I photocopied my rocks and then worked out how I wanted the water to flow over the rocks. So far so good. But I needed some underwater rocks. These needed to look more hazy and not as defined as the surface rocks.

So here are the added underwater rocks. I just made them sort of fuzzy shapes with indistinct edges. Since this is all in water color over a base of acrylic paint, the watercolor comes right off if you get it wet. So I needed to spray it with a fixative so that I could continue to work over the top and add the water flowing. Of course, I don’t have any spray fixative. I tried to find it in four local stores and no luck. So I ordered it off of Amazon. Now I have to wait until next week to finish this piece. I guess that gives me more time to study flowing water and how to paint it!

Thanks for stopping by and have a good weekend.

Experimental Landscapes

I found a book in the library that seemed interesting, so I thought I would try a few techniques recommended in the book. The book is Experimental Landscapes in watercolour by Ann Blockley. I really enjoyed the book and although I have done most of the techniques in the book, I never thought of combining them in the way that she does. The methods are using a variety of materials such as thread, bits of cheesecloth, thin plastic and salt in the wet paint. They looked like a real mess when I was doing them and it took a bit to get them looking like I wanted but I was fairly well pleased with the results. It will take a bit more experimentation and practice to get really good results. I actually used thinned down acrylic paints instead of watercolors. I don’t have anything but watercolor pencils and crayons and they won’t work for this method.

This is the first one I tried. The background had already been painted blue and then mono printed with black ink to suggest mountains and trees. This piece is small, about 4″ x 6″. I then added a very liquid wash of white acrylic paint and covered that with crinkled up thin kitchen plastic. The result is on the left. Then I looked at if for a while to figure out what I would do. I saw a tree and frozen bits of grass on the left side so I covered any white to better emphasize these aspects as needed. Then I used blue on the mountains to create some distance. I added some other blues and grays in the foreground to make it look like perhaps there are rocks under the snow. I also added a bit of green and white to the evergreens to give them a bit more definition. This process gives a much more abstract feel than direct painting.

Here’s the next one that I did. I had used cheese cloth to try to replicate teasels that she had demonstrated in the book. But I used a bit too much of a wadded up piece of cheesecloth. I should have just used one layer. Now I know. But I decided I could still use sepia ink to create the teasel look. Then I added in a little definition to the floral bits that kind of look like roses. And I add more color into the background to give it a bit more interest.

This last one I used stronger colors. For the tree shape on the right, I used a strip of sheer fabric that had some horizontal textures that I thought would make a good tree. It was laid down into the wet paint and then covered with plastic and let dry. I used a lot of thread on the left hand side for texture. On the left center bottom, if you look closely, you can see my inspiration for the focal point. It looked like a cone flower to me. I worked on the background first to try to make it look like red twig dogwoods in the late fall or early winter. I used negative painting with purple to achieve that and to bring out the tree. There were many times on this one, where I had about decided to give up. There were several very ugly stages. But I kept working on it, added the cone flowers to the foreground starting with sepia ink pens and then adding several layers of paint on top of that to give them more depth. I like the result and it definitely isn’t something I could have painted directly.

I have a couple more in the process. The hard part is finding something to inspire you to keep going because they are pretty messy after the first step. I have ordered Ann Blockley’s most recent book so that I can try more of these.