I knew Barbara Sailor was going to give a good presentation to the GCWS group yesterday, and I was not wrong. People were engaged, asking a lot of questions, and Barb was great at thinking on her feet and answering those questions while still working on her painting. Plus, we got to see a lot of Barb's paintings close up, including this First Place winner of the leaves :)
Barb began by giving us some background on the technique she demoed. She said that, with this technique, the process takes precedence over the conception - and that it takes a lot of planning before ever putting the color on the paper.
Working on 140# watercolor paper (she uses Arches or Fabriano), Barb had already drawn out her subject, using a grid to enlarge it from a photograph. She had masked out all the white and lines (which help define the subject) with Pebeo Drawing Gum. (She uses old wooden paint brushes she sharpens as the PDG applicators - or wooden styluses. She finds anything wooden works best to get the drawing gum onto the paper and make thin lines.)
Before going into the acrylic ink colors, Barb took a wash brush and made sure her paper was very wet. She had taped it onto a thin piece of gatorboard to hold it down and so she would tilt and tip it to let the colors run later.
Barb had 5 baby jars about 1/8" full of various colors of green acrylic ink + water premixed; she began dropping those colors on the paper, a little at a time, with a pipette/dropper. Starting with the lightest greens, she moved to darker colors and a blue-green mix to get plenty of variety. We could see how vibrant the color stayed and how it flowed over the wet paper.
At this point, it was time to dry the painting - which was done by her trusty side-kick and friend, Rose, who made the trip down with Barb for the program. Normally, the paint would be allowed to dry, but because of time constraints, Rose took the green painting into another room and dried it with a hairdryer.
Rather than wait for the painting to dry, Barb had another painting (a peony in pinks and violets) begun with the acrylic inks and took us to the next step of the process: Getting out her palette of watercolor paints, she prewet an area she wanted darker and more intense, and put watercolor onto the paper - over the acrylic ink that was dry - to add more depth. Because the acrylic ink does not lift, it made the darker color more intense and still very clean.
Then she showed us how the paint the watercolor over the dried acrylic ink on the green (hosta?) painting. She normally will keep the drawing gum/fluid on until she paints around the edges, deepening and darkening some areas and bringing the subject out. Here, she just added some darks and cut around shapes of the hosta with sepia over the green acrylic ink - and because of the green underneath, it looked green, not brown.
Barb says she's a slow painter; and it was obvious that she's a painter who plans her paintings carefully before ever going in with color. I think watching her do a painting from start to finish would be a real treat sometime, though! You know, we watercolorists are strange people - we like watching paint dry! ha ha
Barb gave us some handouts and enough information, that I think many will try this technique and I hope to see some examples at the next meeting. I know I will try it - I just have to decide what I want to paint this way and take my time with planning.
Thanks so much, Barb!!! Loved your program and loved getting to meet you in person!
And Barb currently has a show at the Riverside Art Center of Wapakoneta, OH with a photographer friend. The show highlights the photos of Pamela Baker and Barb's paintings of her friend's photos. Sounds like a great show - so if you're in the area, stop by. The artist reception is Sunday, October 6 (2-4 pm) and the show runs through the month of October. But if you can't visit the show, then drop by Barb's blog and see what beautiful things she's creating and sharing.