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Archive for the ‘Pen and Ink’ Category

Textured Scenery

Watercolor painting has undergone a revolution in recent decades.  Once the stuff of faint, delicate washes and flat photographic detail, watercolor has become a medium of vibrant shades and palpable textures.  This is somewhat due to a plethora of new paint colors by many manufacturers plus products which add granulation, impasto, and crackles to the paints—and the liberating relaxation of what is acceptable:  including the use of salt, cling film, and tools for scraping.  (The most commonly used scraping tool seems to be a defunct credit card.)

I am grateful for the revolution.  As exquisite as they may be in the hands of a pro, those faint and delicate washes with photographic detail have never appealed to this amateur.  Much as I respect the age-old skill of the traditional watercolorist, I do not want “faint and delicate” on the walls of my home!  And I would not be true to myself if faint and delicate were my only options to paint.

Along with the watercolor revolution has come a fondness for the diffusion which occurs when wet paint is applied alongside semi-wet:  those beautiful “cauliflowers” and “blooms” such as you see in the upper right corner of the above rendering.  Once considered to be terrible, these blooms are now cherished by many artists.  Sometimes the blooms occur accidentally, but often they are intentional.  They can also be achieved by spraying water on semi-wet paint.  Actually I think that’s how I got the one pictured above.

I am going batty over texture.  The ethereal white streaks just left of center were made by wisping a layer of white gouache over paint which was dried under cling film.  The weird trees or whatever along the background were salted.  Table salt is okay, but since I love most everything Jewish I prefer Kosher salt.  The wildish plantings springing up on the right were done with a new kid on my art block—Indian ink.  And of course the green area was cling filmed while drying.  Not featured in this example are watercolor crayons and water soluble ink pencils which I frequently apply for texture.  And a great way to create speckles is to sprinkle sand-papered shavings from the end of a water soluble colored pencil, into wet paint.  Too much fun!

Up until now, all of my paintings have been done on either Arches 140# cold press (as above) or slippery YUPO paper.  I have held off ordering rough textured paper due to the accelerated price thereof—feeling that I should wait until I have a reasonable idea of what I am doing with my paints.

Well, I’ve been sloshing around in the colors for eight years now and recently I decided it was time to move on.  I ordered one sheet of Arches 140# rough surface, to see if I would like it.  Today I began to work on that first sheet.  Ha!  It was love at first brush stroke.  The rough texture causes far more irregularities with its crevasses and gullies, than one can possibly achieve on other papers.  So I just ordered three more sheets.  The sheets are 22″ x 30″.  I get a lot of paintings out of the big sheets, and these will go along way toward making our Wisconsin winter more pleasant.

Also, I really took a plunge, and ordered one sheet of 300# cold press.  Again, a price leap.  A sheet of 300# rough texture paper would have been even more pricey.  One step at a time.  The 300# papers do not buckle, no matter how wet they are.  So there is no need to dampen the back of a 300# painting and weight it down between paper towels and plastic mats laden with my huge atlas.

Little by little I am getting spoiled.  But I’m into painting for the long haul.  As long as the Lord keeps me on earth I hope to dink around with my brushes and explosions of color and texture!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, December 2014

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“Water Media Art” rather than just “Watercolors” would be a better summary of what I love to do.  The above piece contains 4 different kinds of water media, all working together to produce interesting effects.

The twisted vines were created with Elegant Writer® pens, by SPEEDBALL.  These felt tip pens are incredibly fun.  You write or draw with them, and at this point your work simply looks like lines.  Then you go over the lines with a small damp round brush, and the lines activate into a painterly blur.  I bought the pens at our BEN FRANKLIN store, but any craft store which carries calligraphy materials will probably stock the Elegant Writer®.  I found black, green, blue, red, and brown pens. 

The watery blobs on the branches were formed by dabs of wet watercolor crayons.  I have a tin of 24 LYRA AQUACOLOR® crayons, and there are other brands. 

The dense clusters of magenta flowers (at least I think that’s what they are) were painted with gouache—an age old paint which I’m beginning to enjoy a lot.  Gouache is simply watercolor paint with white paint (which is opaque) added.  One can make gouache by adding white paint to any watercolor, but I purchased tubes from one of my online sources.  Most art paint manufacturers offer gouache.  The opacity of the gouache contrasts beautifully with transparent watercolor paints or crayons.  It can be used as is, or blended into watercolors for variations of tone and hue.  Not clear on this computer scanned version, but noticeable on my original, is the raised quality—rendering the feeling of velvet.  This texture appeared because I layered the gouache over applications of the watercolor crayons.  With gouache, one can build an impasto look, and even to a slight degree simulate oils  (Oils are forbidden fruit for me, due to lung issues.)

One “Buyer Beware” concerning gouache.  Unless you work in acrylics and have brushes set aside for that medium, make sure you do not buy an acrylic base gouache.  There are probably several brands, but the one I have seen is TURNER ACRYL GOUACHE®.  This would ruin your watercolor brushes.  However, any acrylic media can be used in connection with watercolors, watercolor pencils or crayons, and watercolor based gouache so long as you have separate brushes for the acrylics.* 

(I do use acrylics in my collages.  The permanent, stay fast quality of acrylic paint works well where many layers of paint and an assortment of extra materials are applied.  Many layers can be painted on without the danger of smudging.   I do my collage work on gallery wrapped canvas.  Rather than covering with glass, I apply 2 coats of acrylic gloss medium for archival purposes—and the piece will last.  Meanwhile, viewers can run their hands over the collages and appreciate the textures.)

Finally, the background in the above piece was dabbed with water and a few drops of watercolor paint.  Voilà!  Watercolor plus!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

*Note:  Occasionally I apply acrylic Interference® paints by GOLDEN, to add a pearlescent glow to a watercolor painting.  But I am hyper about keeping the brushes separate, as my watercolor brushes are beloved—and they should last longer than I will!

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