Monday, June 28, 2010

pastel over watercolor

We watched a DVD by Richard McKinley, pastel artist, the other day: Three Steps for Successful Pastel Painting. It was almost 2 hours long and could have had some of his commercials for his other DVD edited out, but it was really good and isn't so far from what I've been doing that it was hard to try the techniques. I found a couple of photos that I liked the feel of (read "colors in") but not the composition, so I spent some time doing thumbnails of various arrangement of the elements until I got a couple I liked. Then, to add to the mix, I experimented also with mounting a piece of Wallis paper to foam core. Acrylic mat medium may not be the best adhesive for this, but it worked well enough. Then I found the hardest pencil I could in my drawer (I prefer soft lead) and drew right on the sanded paper, a much more detailed drawing with values included than I usually do. The next step was the underpainting. I used watercolors and a hake brush about an inch wide. Last came the pastel. I didn't try to cover the underpainting but rather to enhance it liberally. I wish I'd taken more photos, but I just can't remember to stop when I'm all involved in a painting. I'm not done, but I'm waiting for the painting to tell me what's next and I'd love suggestions. Each image has a much larger version if you click on it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

An actual collage

I made more collage papers the other day, then got inspired and sprayed backgrounds on pieces of illustration board which is nice to collage on. Then I took one of those pieces, about 10 x 14, and started a collage. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a photo of just the background of that one. But here are the other backgrounds and the collage I've been working on. The first one of the backgrounds is the same size as the in-process collage, the other two are about twice as big. They have various things laid over them as sort of stencils to create interesting forms and texture. I put them on and took them off the piece I was working on at various times in the spraying process to vary their appearance. I've posted two versions of the collage and there will no doubt be more. I'm not even sure which side is up yet. I invite critiques of the collage.
I've been working with the receiver of entries for this year's Philadelphia Water Color Society's big show to get them to the juror in digital form. I found that the non-representational paintings that I liked most had a very limited palette. It wasn't until the last of the backgrounds that I remembered that and tried to do that for myself. I do love color!
Each of these is larger and more colorful if you click on them.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Yesterday our painting group of four met in Earleville, MD, where one member has a house which looks down on Pearce Creek which, at that point, is dammed and is really a lake. I did some charcoal sketches looking across their inlet, then a couple of color sketches, all in my wonderful Aquabee sketchbook. The sketchbook is 9" x 9", so you can tell these are pretty small. Of course I also took reference photos from the sketch location and other places around their property.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Collage Papers

I've been experimenting/struggling with doing collage in a non-objective way. That is, with good values, eye travel, overall design but nothing you could identify. I've painted tissue paper with various colors and methods of application. Yesterday I made more collage papers using liquid watercolors and a mouth atomizer. [see if you need more information.] I used ordinary tissue paper (not archival but sealed by acrylic matte medium which is) which I placed on a cut-open kitchen trash bag. I did this in the driveway because I didn't know how much overspray I would get so I wanted to be outside. It was a cool and dry day yesterday which helped motivate me. After a sheet of tissue was sprayed, I moved it on the plastic to the porch to dry which happened quickly so I could then reuse the plastic. The plastic keeps the tissue from falling apart when it's wet.

I sprayed a lot of papers and learned a lot. I could make paper of various shades just by spraying lighter in an area. I could mix colors directly on the tissue just by spraying a second color when the first was still wet. If I crumpled the paper then spread it out with the wrinkles still in and sprayed from a low angle, I could get interesting patterns. If I then turned the paper around and sprayed again with another color at a low angle I could get areas of the two colors intermixed. I found that many of the liquids could be sprayed right out of their little bottles or diluted in a small disposable cut. Others are kinda thick and needed diluting from the beginning. Acrylic inks would work well with this technique, too, although I guess I'd have to be more diligent in cleaning the sprayer and with the wc.s. Or I guess I could mix up a fairly strong mixture with tube paint and water and spray. Of course, I could have gone out and bought little spray bottles for each color but the atomizer is probably cheaper than a single bottle!

Here's a photo of a few of my dry tissue spread out on a white table. When I glue (using the acrylic matte medium) one color over another, they become quite transparent so I get a layering affect.

Now to get down to the business of creating these collages. That's the hard part for me, to do something with no reference but maybe a value sketch, but I find those hard to do for this, too. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Something Different

Last weekend I played in PhotoShop with photographs I have on my computer, photos I've taken in the woods and other places over the years. I layered two or three and fiddled with color. This is one of the resulting abstracts, along with a pastel I did from it. After I got the basic shapes in, I didn't much try to follow the photographic image but just went with the painting. As always, I invite critiques.