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Posts Tagged ‘Transparent layering with watercolors’

My Incredibly Beautiful Future 2

I believe I’ve been converted to the nuances and moods of layered watercolors!  Yes, undoubtedly I’ll retreat on occasion to directly splashing and sloshing heavy increments of paint—especially when working on YUPO®.  But transparent layering has opened new territory for me, that I don’t really ever want to leave—at least for very long—without returning!

A great advantage of layering transparent nuances and moods (often resulting in colors I never even dreamed of!) is TIME—a plethora of time in which to rest between applications of paint while knitting a few inches, fixing a meal, taking a walk, or sleeping.  Thus the process of creating a single “masterpiece” (every painting which gives us pleasure should be called that!), is prolonged—along with an intrinsic sense of purpose, commitment, and fulfillment therein!

The above layered work, called “My Incredibly Beautiful Future” was mainly created by the rolling tissue trick.  I learned this technique from Canadian artist Karin Huehold via her amazing DVD,  A LITTLE WATERCOLOR.  A tissue (the cheapest I can find—as in 99¢ per standard size box) is torn in half, and one part is rolled into a finger-like shape.  Then the “finger” is rolled on wet paper charged with wet paint, wherever one chooses to create clouds, mountains, or mysterious “things”.   

After rolling the first increment of tissue I left the painting to dry, and then I thoroughly rewetted it with my 2 inch Simmons Skyflow brush.  (Arches 140 lb. cold press paper allows plenty of drying and rewetting without causing bleeding and/or lifting of the dried paint.) 

Then I applied different transparent colors, and rolled those areas with the other half of my tissue.  (One would probably not need to be so penurious as I am.  Especially on a larger painting, an entire tissue could be used for one roll.  I just happen to be part Scottish.  I tend to skimp once in awhile—but not that often!  🙂 )

After the 2nd rolling, I allowed the paint to dry again.  Then—without rewetting the paper again, and with more transparent paint in still different colors—I negative-painted* around some of the tissue-created mountains, clouds, and things.  In a few spots, I even rolled into the negatively painted areas while these were still damp. 

This could go on and on, depending on how much knitting we want to accomplish, what we are fixing for dinner, how far we want to walk, or how late we want to sleep.  There can never even possibly be a duplicate, using this technique.  We will always be surprised/astounded/wiped out with amazement by our spectacular results!  Happy rolling!

*Negative painting is simply painting on the outside rather than the inside of shapes.  It can be done on blank paper, to create a background for shapes which will then materialize because we’ve painted a background around them, or (the easier way which I normally choose) by painting on the outside of shapes that we have already created.

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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After six years of direct painting either on wet or dry paper, I’m finally developing the courage to tackle the essence of traditional watercolor art—transparent layering.  Up until recent weeks, any forays into layering that I did were accidental—and if these attempts yielded anything better than the artist’s dreaded “mud”, then they were the quintessential “happy accidents”.

Perhaps I’m a bit thick headed!  It has taken years of constant immersion in books and DVDs—especially by watercolorists Barbara Nechis and Wisconsin’s own Karlyn Holman just for me to decide to focus on layering.  What a satisfying focus!  The subtle nuances of the initial wash shining through subsequent layers of varying color is a never ending source of surprise and delight.  One never knows what will emerge, and each painting is different from the last.

There are some guiding principles for the process:  thin layers of transparent paint work best, with gradual rather than radical color variations, and each layer must be thoroughly dry before applying another.  Some artists speed up the drying with a hair dryer.  I simply move on to another project, and give each wash more than enough time to dry.  It’s fun to go from painting, to soap making, to knitting, to my piano, to a good book.  After all, the name of my stage in life is LEISURE WITH NO STRESS—and that’s a wonderful thing!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how beautiful a city scene can be, when venerable old (or tasteful new) architecture is accented by gardens and the natural life which abounds therein.  Years ago, my husband and I traveled 2200 miles of back roads in Scotland, Wales, and England—staying at sheep farms along the way.  On the last day of our vacation we took a train from the village of Dorking to London, a journey of about an hour.  As the train catapulted (British trains do exactly that!) through back alleys of London residential neighborhoods, I was totally charmed by the gardens complete with picturesque potting sheds in even the tiniest back yards.  The plethora of vines and plantings pressed against old buildings (some being centuries old!) was a sight I love to recall. 

From that day on, I’ve passionately loved the English garden look—not those formal, ostentatiously groomed plantings on the large English estates but rather the cozy “cottage gardens” which ramble in profusion outside back doors of country and city homes across the UK.  When delineated by stonework, a wall, some fencing, or some other architectural detail, the cottage gardens exude a timeless sense of nostalgia and ambience. 

I have created the cottage garden look outside my own door with perennials, culinary herbs, and “garden art”, and this is the kind of garden I love to paint.  Hence the above rendering, the most multi-layered watercolor I’ve done to this date.  Things are finally clicking inside my skull, and I think I’m “getting it” at last!  🙂

My favorite part of the above painting is the shading of hues above and within the arc which represents some kind of architectural detail.  But I also like the “in your face” flowers which shout at you from the foreground.  These were painted in gouache, that wonderful opaque watercolor which builds texture similar to oils and acrylics but does not destroy one’s precious high quality watercolor brushes!

I like to say I am 1/2 Celt, as my mother’s family surnames were either Scottish or Irish.  But according to my records, many of these ancestors married people with English names—Blake, Wood, Soper, etc.  So it figures that I immediately felt at home when I discovered the English cottage garden, and have been (at least mentally) living in one ever since!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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