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Posts Tagged ‘Combining watercolor and gouache’

winter-sunrise-4-1

I often giggle when I think of what comes out of my studio in contrast to the work of gifted, well-schooled artists!  Highly skilled artists may be among the most generously-encouraging-to-beginners group of professionals on earth.  We all are included in a vastly diverse culture where there is a place for most anyone at any level and inclination.

But I have a library of art books—both “how to” tutorials by well-known artists, and tomes of art history and criticism.  I love to study these books, and I do know the difference between classic art and smoke and mirrors—my off-the-cuff “hashtag” for a bag of tricks which I am delighted to share with any beginner who is eager to paint and willing to spend hours each week, building an inventory of paintings in his or her studio.

My 12″ x 16″ rendering below is titled “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”, and it is composed of tricks that my seven-year-old great-grandsons could perform if they decided to sit or stand still long enough,  I began by slathering gesso on the 140# cold press paper to create rocky slopes.  After the gesso dried, I sprayed the surface with water and applied different watercolors—jiggling the paper so the paints could blend and do their own thing,  When those paints dried, I streaked a thinned application of white gouache here and there to add mystery and a sense of age to the rocks.  Voilà.  Smoke and mirrors.

A Rock and a Hard Place

The next example displays a couple of favorite tricks:  plastic wrap and salt.  (I use Kosher salt, but any will do—creating slightly varying effects).  The paper used here is Yupo, that glass-like surface which is not really paper, but rather an amalgamation of chemicals.  (There is no middle ground with Yupo.  Artists either love it or hate it.  The lovers are the “let it all hang out” group of which I am one, and the haters are the perfectionists who do well with lots of control.)

Where you see crinkles and wrinkles, that is where the plastic wrap was applied.  It takes a long time for the paint to dry under plastic wrap on Yupo, and less time on a rag surface which is absorbent.  The spots and phased-out parts were done with salt.  The salt technique is far more spectacular on rag paper than on Yupo.  The painting at the top of this page shows the result of salting the wet paint on rag paper.  Salt can make snowflakes, clouds, stars, dandelion fluff, and many additional effects,

Thus you can see that whenever art making is a person’s dream, it can be done.  And every dream will materialize differently—as each of us is unique.  What fun we can have, sharing our ways to implement the smoke and mirrors!  🙂

Smoke and Mirrors.JPG

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Flower Children

“Flower Children”, as the above creatures on Yupo Paper are called, just happened by accident—but gave birth to a new-to-me process which excites me more than I can say!  For starters, the original is larger than my scanner/printer bed so that you are not by any means looking at the whole painting.

The elephant (I think that’s what they are) on the right has a much longer stretch of trunk, and the bottom of the piece is loaded with flowers.  On the left, the original painting contains a generous vertical column of flowers—thus adding balance and extra interest.  The flowers are mostly rose-hued and magenta, with splashes of white.

The blotchy quality is obviously due to Kosher salt.  But not obvious on the print is the raised texture, achieved with gouache over the initial watercolor washes.  I have used gouache before, but never to the extent of mounding it up so heavily—like oil paint.  This works on Yupo, but is not so effective on normal rag watercolor paper which will soak up some of the layers.  On Yupo (a glass-like synthetic surface), the paint cannot go anywhere but up.  The rugged textural effect of the original is visible through glass in a picture frame, but not on the reproduction.

So given those details, hopefully you can begin to imagine these funky flower children.  Gouache on Yupo has a brilliance, similar to acrylic, yet it can be thinned to transparency.  (I guess acrylic can also, but I’ve yet to try that.  So far I have not fallen in love with acrylic, like I have with gouache and watercolor.)

The above painting and the two below, which I did in the same week, are framed and hanging in our living room/dining area—hanging, yet nearly bouncing off the wall thanks to their vibrant color.  The combination of Yupo, watercolor, salt, and a build-up of gouache is something that I think I can reproduce while spinning off in many directions with an endless variety of subject matter.  No two renderings will ever be alike, because paint on Yupo does its own thing.

Meanwhile, here are the paintings which follow the “Flower Children”:

Castlewood Canyon 3

“Castlewood Canyon, Colorado”.  Also too large for my scanner.  There is more rock across the lower right on the original, and more vegetation on the left.  But the over-all effect has been reproduced.

End of the Day Glass Series 3

“End of the Day Glass” (series)  I’ve posted at least one other in this series.  Victorian glassware is a delight to me.  Glassblowers sometimes combined their leftovers at the end of the day and created one-of-a-kind whimsies that could not be reproduced—rather like paintings on Yupo paper.

Like the others, this one was a lot of fun.  The original, also large, contains more on the bottom and left.  The bubbly, blobby circles in the upper center formed themselves, and I was careful not to disturb them while dropping in a suggestion of blue and rose.  Then I fabricated the lower, slightly off center blob with my brush to extend the idea of the roundness of the vases (or whatever they are).  Again, Kosher salt created speckles, and here I squirted a bit of water from my small spray bottle, while tipping the Yupo to disperse the water and salt.

These are all tricks and techniques that a child could learn if he or she so desired.  And each finished work is always different from the last.  It’s a wonderful feeling to make something that is “uniquely YOU!” or “uniquely ME!”

Margaret L. Been, June 2014

 

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