Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Brushes On Watercolour - Wet On Wet

I had an interesting question the other day about watercolour paper and whether it is used wet or dry. Well, it is used both ways depending on what you are painting and the effect you want to make.

If you are going to paint a detailed painting, which needs to be accurate to scale (like mine) you will have to work on dry paper. The reason for this is that you will need to make your pencil drawing on your paper and as we all know - you can't draw with an ordinary lead pencil onto wet paper. A long time ago I did try drawing on my paper before soaking and stretching it. Unfortunately I discovered that when you do this, you also stretch your drawing and even when the paper has completely dried, the drawing is not absolutely as it was when you drew it. So for my purposes where accuracy is vital, it was useless. If however, 100% accuracy to scale is not needed, then you can certainly do this.

You may wonder why anyone would want to draw first, soak later. The reason for this, is that when you have a sheet of wet paper on your board (not completely, dripping wet but still soaked through) you can lay your paints onto the paper and get some wonderful effects. You will need to practice to see what I mean, but essentially the paint will mix in with the water held in the paper and spread out into wonderful shapes and patterns. When you then add another colour to the mix - oh lovely! Do be aware though, that where the paper is holding a lot of water, you will need to put reasonably strong colours on your brush.

If you need to let your paper dry so that you can put on an accurate drawing, you can however, wet areas of your paper with clean water (make sure it is clean!!) and then drop your colours into that area. No doubt you will find some frustrations. Quite often the paint will collect to the edges of its spread and when dry, creates and thickish hard line which most often you won't want. If you try and lift some of the paint when you see this happening, you will find to your dismay that quite often you get a 'floral' effect and most of the time you won't want this, although in a looser painting, it can be utilized to become a useful part of the design.

The picture at the top shows a small part from the background of one of my paintings (ignore the piece of dog neck) which shows granulation. Granulation occurs when some paints are mixed together - I usually make mine happen by adding ultramarine to my mix. I love the grainy effect it gives.

So to summarise - your paper can be worked dry, damp or wet. It will depend on your requirements and may well differ from painting to painting. Just keep going and don't give up if your efforts appear amateurish to begin with. Enjoy what you're doing. Don't make it an effort but look forward to it as an enjoyable discovery. Apart from learning to draw and paint, you will also begin to see differently. Yes, you will. Where once you would just look at an object, now you will start to really see it. You will notice it's shape, colour, the way the light falls on it. Yes, life will become more fun!

Talking of fun, did anyone notice the heading of this piece? If you take the initials it reads BOW-WOW - perfect for a dog obsessed person like me!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Drawing - how much, how little? AND A Smiley Spot

A Smiley Spot

Back at last and I thought it would be interesting to reply to Sophie's comments on my last blog in detail.

She mentions using a softer pencil trying to achieve a darker drawing. Certainly a soft lead will enable a darker line to be made - a darker, softer line. The harder the pencil, the sharper and lighter the resulting marks will be. From my own experience, I would never try and draw with an 'h' pencil as I find them far too hard. Like Sophie, I also tend not to press very firmly when I draw and I don't get on with 'h' pencils. I have found the drawback with the soft 'b' leads is that they tend to be messy although it's possible to lay in some lovely shading effects with them. Since I draw - other than as a preliminary to a painting - very little now, I use my trusty 'hb' pencil. I find this just right, not too hard and not too soft. It is soft enough to be responsive and yet hard enough not to be messy. It is easy to erase and for my purposes, just perfect!

I would suggest that if you are keen on drawing, you should go to your local art shop and buy a box of pencils of varying hardnesses. Buy a nice sketch pad as well and then, as I am always saying, practice, practice, practice! Art is such an invididual thing that what one artists swears by, another cannot abide.

However, one thing I can say is that drawing in order to achieve a pencilled finished piece of artwork is very different to the drawing required as a guide for a painting. I hope you can see from the photo in my previous blog 'Talking About Drawing' (not a brilliant photo I'm afraid) that the drawing is really just an outline of the major points to help me when I start the painting. It is also drawn lightly as I don't really want it seen in the finished painting. You certainly don't want to be trying to paint over a mass of pencil lines; for a start your watercolour paint would just skim over the surface and not be absorbed.

So Sophie, and anyone else who is thinking about painting, when you make your preliminary drawing, don't try and put in too much detail - let your paints do this. If you do decide to use soft 'b' leads, be aware that they smudge very easily and will spoil the white surface of your watercolour paper.

As an aside, the 'h' and 'b' sizes given are the English sizes - I'm afraid I don't know if they are the same in the US or elsewhere.

The painting I have included today is one of a small number of my paintings which are now available as prints and greetings cards. This is the first time any of my paintings have ever been available other than as originals and I am planning a selection of Christmas cards which I will be making available shortly.

I think the oil painting above would make a perfect picture to hang in a bedroom with the smiley red face making waking a little easier! As I said, this is also available as a greetings card and although it doesn't have any message on the inside - as I thought this would make it more versatile - I think it would make a smashing 'get well card'.

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

A New Experience - Oil Painting

A Comfortable Spot - 10" x 8" oil on canvas


While I've been away, I've been the one who's been learning - I have painted my first few paintings in oil paints. It's a very strange experience using oils after having painted in watercolours for so many years. I say that I've been learning while I've been away, but to be honest, painting really is a skill which takes a lifetime to master and you never stop learning even if you paint virtually every day of the year as I do - good thing I love painting!

Anyway here is my very first oil painting, A Comfortable Spot - I hope you like it. When this painting is sold, 10% of the profits will be donated to Save the Dalmatians - one of my favourite charities.