Monday, May 31, 2010
Well, I can honestly say this koi painting is finished! ha ha (I think knowing when to stop and walk away is one of the hardest things for me to do.) There always seems to be just one more thing I can do to it...which ruins it.
Masking fluid is off and it's cropped a bit (mostly from the top and right side), with a few splashes of white and color in there for bubbles...or something.
But it's done. I am learning, still. Everyday is an experiment in water media!
Back to the watercolors for a while: a start on the little painting (painted to fit into some nice square mats given to Jerry by some photo buddies of his - thanks Marion and Maurice). A lily pad and stems of flowers poking out of the water. I need to sharpen up some areas without overworking it...and call it done.
(This is from a photo taken by Doris Glovier who shares her work with her painting friends at WatercolorWorkshop. Thanks, Doris.)
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
I have worked on the koi painting a bit more (the last one I began in Nick's workshop). This photo was taken while the paper (Arches 140# hotpress) was soaking wet with color and water.
Next I'll remove the masking fluid from the fish and begin painting it and working it more into the water.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
So...after 2 hours, I'm whipped, and haven't created what I wanted to create or even know what I'm doing yet. Okay, an hour isn't enough time to learn...maybe another hour tomorrow and then again the next day and in a week...or a month...or a year, I'll get it and be as proficient as Nick was in composing on the computer.
This is what I did with the abstract...going in a more green direction with warms and thinking of undergrowth...it needs some darks here and there and it needs me to leave it alone for a while.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Sunday, May 23, 2010
This is my first canyon pour...I didn't mix anything in with my Quin Gold so it's pure Quin Gold and I got a bad piece of Arches hot press (see the right edge and those blotches?) that worked out okay on this because it's just more texture. But it took forever to dry and you dry each layer before starting with the next layer. I don't have a photo of the second pour for me but I'll take a photo of where I am on this now (I've worked on it here at home and have something...I think...worth sharing).
Saturday, May 22, 2010
1. A closed mind
2. A sense of your own importance
3. A feeling that you are too good to go back to basics
4. A fear that you will fail if you try something that scares you
5. No filter on your constant talking out loud, or criticism of others
I've discovered that the best way to not stress in a workshop with about 19 other participants is to be fairly quiet, have a good sense of humor, and bring your "beginners mind" to the task so you are willing to try anything (even those things that scare you, make your feel like you are going to fail or embarrass yourself) - and just keep working on your piece. Most of the workshop participants did just that but there are always one or two...you know the ones...that come to make it all about them. Nuff said!
Now...about that workshop:
Nick stresses individuality in painting (big surprise, eh?)
He said that whenever we see a painting we ask ourselves three questions.
One: Do I like that?
Two: Could I do that?
Three: Would I have thought to do that?
You know that third one is the one where you think, "Darn it! That is sooo cool and I wouldn't have even thought to do that!" That's what makes a painting individual, personal, exciting.
Nick says most people are painting like someone else. You take a workshop and you paint like that instructor instead of just incorporate what you've learned into your own style and personal preferences. But he wants to see something NEW and FRESH and EXCITING. Remember, it's not a good thing to obsess over technique to the exclusion of everything else. It's supposed to be about expression (not how well you can do a sky wash or a pour, etc.).
If you can love the spontaneity and excitement that comes from letting watercolor do it's own thing (pooling, puddling, separating, blending in funky ways, etc.), you can stop working so hard at getting it just right and let the paint work for you. As Nick said, you must "Learn to Love Plan B," because there will always be a Plan B...and sometimes a Plan C and D. I think this was a quote from Sargent but I didn't write it down in my notes who said it first. Sargent did describe watercolor. He said, "Watercolor is making the best of an emergency." We've all felt that panic when things aren't going the way WE want them to go and we forget that we can let the watercolor work for us instead of against us.
So how about pouring? Are you controlled? Do you tape your paper and then with a tiny dropper, drip in that paint where you want it to go and get upset when it strays? Do you spritz and let it run or try to control those runs? That is not the Nick Simmons way.
Nick tapes his painting (predrawn using strong contour lines, not sketchy) on the wall, mixes his fluid acrylics with some water in a cup, and goes for the gusto...
He gives Joseph Zbukvic full credit for coming up with a clear way to describe the consistency of the pigment vs water mix:
Make it like 1) Tea, 2) Coffee, 3) Milk, 4) Cream, or 5) Butter
We poured our pigments and water mix most of the time like coffee or milk and then using a big spray bottle, would spray off some areas and make more drips in areas, allowing the paint to run down the paper. You should have seen the wall (covered in plastic) and the area under the wall (with a large sheet under it and also covered in plastic). You could not do this if you were timid, wore light clothes you didn't want to get messy, or just were afraid to let go. I tell you, it pushed me because I was a timid thrower of paint - but I really wanted to do it and will do it again when I clear out some space in my house for this.
Although Nick put this away and did another, he was showing us how to do it and we all got a chance to do it with our colors - less is more, don't go with too many different colors, just make it your own. And then we used that as a background for what came next = actually taking the brush and painting on the paper.
We all did full size sheets and they looked okay in that big workshop area. He worked on 30 x 30 squares of watercolor hot press paper, taped all the way around and with a bead of masking fluid around the tape and paper - as well as masking fluid in various areas of the drawing to maintain whites at the end. He says every painting has it's optimum size and it's up to you to get it to it's "fighting weight" where it looks the best. The size of the painting is often the first thing he thinks about.
And we did a geisha painting using Kanji lettering (no one, not even Nick, knows what it says or doesn't say, they are just being used as a design element).
You can see the only pour Nick did on this to use as a background/design element. He said he wants to work with a more muted palette of colors now so he uses more subdued, warm colors in the pour. When that dries, he begins actually painting in the areas, working with keeping the paint wet in areas where he works - he calls this "cell painting" and it's how he can get that loose, watering, out-of-control look in areas without actually losing control. If you start with more intense, colorful pigments than you'd normally start a painting, you can knock it back later with darks and more muted colors. He is working with a more limited palette, using "jewel tones" of bright, pure pigments in some areas left white when he finishes the painting.
You can work wet-in-wet in specific areas, using a variety of colors to get your tortoise shell hair combs and her dark hair and clothing. There are some large letters masked out and some whites in her hair here. Her lips and the whites of her eyes were also masked out before the pour. Keep the paint wet by touching water into the area, not brushing and brushing it. You can keep it wet with clean water or drop in another color before it dries. If you let it dry a bit, then drop in clean water, you get lots of texture and variety of shapes inside the shape.
When the painting is where you want it, you remove the masking fluid and paint the lips and eyes, working on bringing up some color here and there, seeing if the whites in the pour (in the background) work well or if you need to drop some color in there later, etc.
And the finished geisha was purchased by Karen at the workshop. She said it would look perfect in her bedroom that has other Asian art decorations in it.
This is my version of the geisha, using colors I had and liked, and starting with the pour as the drawn and masked paper was taped on the wall. We all used the same black and white photo and then just drew our ladies out freehand - which is why each painting looked so different. We also each placed out Kanji letters in different places on the paper.
I haven't removed the masking fluid from the hair yet because I think I'll darken it in areas, and I modified his "sewing machine stitch" technique for a more organic look on the extra lines to the right of the painting. He shows you how to do this in his DVD of the koi painting, wetting the paper and then dabbing in pigment along a line that isn't too wet or too dry - and letting it bleed out a bit. He does this to keep from getting a cut out and pasted on look to the painting which acrylic can have. We did this as an outline of the drawing, for her face, hair, clothing, etc.
I sent Deb Ward photos I took of her painting so I hope she shows it on her blog!
Each painting we did in the workshop was on 140# hot press watercolor paper - Nick doesn't use anything heavier than #140 because he likes to move and tilt and help that paint run and flow in most of his painting styles (this one was more controlled than the koi fish paintings where he wants the paper to buckle and dry at different stages). And he uses hot press more than cold press (although he uses both). He buys his paper in rolls so he can choose the size - and often works in a square format.
And that was just some of day one and two. There are things I'm not going to tell you so you will be surprised and perhaps be tempted to take a workshop yourself. My recommendation is, if you do take a workshop from Nick, do get a beginner's set of fluid acrylics (either Da Vinci or Golden), wear old clothes you don't mind getting painted, and take your beginner's mind with you - oh, and prepare to laugh a lot.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Full sheets of watercolor paper (cold press and hot press)
Pencils for sketching
Tracing paper and Newsprint
Photos you can work from later in the week - and have some on CD for Nick to manipulate
Fluid Acrylics in a variety of colors (from Da Vinci and Golden)
Older brushes (don't use your good watercolor brushes for acrylic painting)
White acrylic gesso
A water container
Paper towels and rags for wiping up when we pour, baby, pour
An apron (to keep the mess off my clothes, although I'm wearing old clothes in the workshop)
Masking fluid and artist's tape
A large plastic butcher's tray with freezer paper to wrap over it (so the acrylics don't dry on the tray and ruin it for watercolor).
Don't forget to take your camera so you can get lots of shots of your paintings and Nick working throughout the week!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Here is the start of them. I'm not sure how I'm going to make them look like they are IN the water with parts under the water. I may just run a thin wash of cobalt blue over everything after I get it all done? Hmmm...
I won't get them done before I drive over to meet Deb and we go up to Dayton for the workshop (looking forward to meeting Mary Sonya there, too!).
You'll just have to be patient, now, Bill - I know it's hard for you but be good until I return.
I did finish the Lemons and Shadows painting. It just needed a bit of shaping on the lemons and done!
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
9. After the last colors dry, mix up a bit of Raw Umber + Ultramarine Blue on your palette and, using a tiny brush, you'll make rivulets on the paper. You do this by 1st putting clean water in the brush and smooshing it on the paper, making runs of clean water - then you take the pigment in the brush and touch it, allowing it to run and create some more interesting looks. You can blot up the runs if you don't like them and you can just paint them in but be careful you don't go too dark. Pay attention to the background color and make the rivulet colors fit in with that.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I watch a bit of the DVD and then copy the technique, trying to get some of the same great looks Nick gets. I haven't been very successful yet. That technique of waiting until the paper is dry except for the valleys where paint is still wet and then spraying off the paint in a forceful spray isn't quite working for me - it's all in the timing and I either get impatient and do it too soon, or forget about it for over and hour and it's too late.
If you've never tried the fluid acrylics, I think this DVD will take some of the fear out of them for watercolorists who like to know something "bad" can be lifted off. I am enjoying the fluid acrylics now - not being too keen on them my first few experiences - and am looking forward to the Nick Simmons workshop I'll be attending in the Dayton, OH area next week!
Anyway, here's where I am so far while waiting for another layer to dry completely before moving on and taking another photo.
1. I masked off the edges, running a thin bead of masking fluid (Pebeo Drawing Gum) around the edge of the tape where it meets the paper. Nick says this keeps the paint from running under the taped edges, leaving you a nice, clean edge.
2. I drew my koi (using photos taken on a visit to St. Louis) and seaweed/leaves on the paper.
3. I wet the back and front of the paper until it was soaking and then began by pouring Raw Sienna mixed with water in a cup onto the paper, tilting and moving it around on it's own (no brush touches the paper yet).
4. While the paper is still wet wet wet, I poured on Phthalo Blue mixed with water in a cup onto the paper at the bottom edge, tilting and moving it around and letting the colors blend.
This is the way Nick begins but he's using thicker bodied acrylics at this point so his colors are darker - and I may have thinned my fluid acrylics down too much but it's better to be lighter than too dark at this point.
So...two pours of two different colors.
5. While the paper is still wet (it's wet almost all the time you're working it), I poured a bit of Quinacridone Gold mixed with just a bit of water in a cup onto the top portion, letting it run and tilting the paper to blend it.
6. When this was almost dry, I put in touches of Quin Gold or Raw Sienna here and there and spritzed it out so no hard edges.
I'm just following the DVD as Nick does it. But his looks so much better at this stage than mine! Guess that's why he's giving the workshop - not me?!?
It's a messy process so I have a large pan at my feet that catches the drips as I tilt the paper and let the paint run off - and I have a nice towel to wipe up all the extra (except the part that gets on the backs my forearms! ha ha)
When this stage is almost dry - about 75% dry, according to Nick - which means it's dry except for some of the areas that were puddles when you put the paper down - then you create blossoms by dropping in clean water. It works pretty well if you catch it when it's not too dry and doesn't have a sheen on the paper (meaning it's still wet). Working this wet-in-wet over and over again really saturates your paper and it's a damp, rainy day here so gauging the drying time is a bit tricky. And once the water drops have dried a bit - but not 100% - you take a strong spray bottle and spritz off some of the paint that hasn't dried, creating that "batik" look of the thing. This is the hardest part for me to get right and so far, I haven't done it right. But that's what practice is all about.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
I tried to get the colors richer by adding more reddish tones. Almost done now - except for the lemons, which need a bit of work to get them looking for rounded and shadowed. (The blue is more a grey-blue muted color than is showing in the final photo - my camera likes blues but tends to make them more cool than I see them).
Thanks to all those who stuck with me through the progression of this one!
(Funny, Sandy Maudlin mentioned that the yellows would love cobalt blue - and I had already put blue on the bowl when she sent me that email! I guess she was my teacher for so long - 6 years - that I know what she'll say before she says it to me! ha ha)
Have a great week!
I have plans to finish the fluid acrylic paintings I began in Deb Ward's workshop. And then revisit some DVDs, especially the DVD by Nicholas Simmons to get in the groove for his workshop coming up the 17th-20th of this month in Kettering, OH. I have my place in the workshop and a place to stay so I'm ready!