Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First time beginner to watercolor...

These suggestions are ONLY and I stress this highly, ONLY for someone who enrolls in my watercolor sketching class (September 16 in Woodruff, WI) and
has NO supplies whatsoever and does not have time to get the proper supplies OR wants to get a feel for how watercolor journals go before investing in the money in proper supplies.  (I can see my first watercolor teacher, Paulette Jensen, reading this and cringing.  NO.)  She really believes in the proper equipment.  Me too.  But let's face it many people just want to "doodle around a little with this idea of watercolor to SEE if they might like to get more involved.  I hate to say this, but everything you see here is strictly WalMart.  I can't even recommend Michaels for people here in the north woods taking my class.  The closest one is Wausau!!!  We really are stuck in the boonies up here.  I have to order everything from catalogs. 
But if you want to at least "play" a little for about $20.  Here's what to get.  Dale Rowney tube watercolors ($7.47) and a little mixing palette for $1.00 (you'll need a few white styro plates in addition or a white plate.)   Then some paper...this is at least 90# ($4.97) and some brushes ($5.72).  
Again this are going to be eventually be your "frisket brushes" some day but for now just to get to into it, they will do.
Then finally you will need some pens (and I did recommended an ultra fine black sharpie in the supply list) but another option would be a black gel pen (permanent ink) as they have a little finer point. The ones I like are Uniball Medium .7 (2 for $3.44). The other things on the list I think you can find for yourself. (the list is at the right side of the blog if you scroll down.)  And I promise, Paulette, to give them the right scoop on the proper materials when I get them in class!!!  For more info on the class, price etc. just click on "sketching" in the labels. 

Journaling even on a rainy day

There is never a day when practice in your journal won't be beneficial to you.  No matter what medium or papers you choose. No matter than rain forces you to journal inside.  In my classes I encourage botanicals and still lifes as a way of sharpening your sense of awareness and perception.  The examples here are a way of looking at one subject with a variety of different tools.  While watercolor is my chosen medium, I do feel that it gives one a wonderful sense of working with "value" when you work in one tone.  
The tools used here are ebony sketching pencil, water based ink (I used a black Tombow pen), watercolor (Winsor-Newton), water-soluble graphite (made by General), watercolor pencil (Derwent), and watercolor with ink (here I used permanent ink a .005 Micron which is my old standby).  Except for the Ebony sketching pencil one, I used water and a brush in doing all the others.  All of these would look different if I chose a different grade or finish of paper.  I'll talk about journals themselves and paper another time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Getting materials for sketching and journaling

As I begin to prepare materials for the watercolor journaling class in September...I am going to encourage folks interested in this topic to consider some materials that might not have tried before in journaling.  
Besides the more traditional watercolor/pencil/ink which is wonderful and fun.  I like to trade off from time to time using small sketches with different water media...water-soluble pens, watercolor pencils and watercolor crayons.  I also love water-soluble graphite!  Yes, they make pencils that are usable with water too.  I'll write more about them later. 

Pictured here (blue-green colored in the middle of the picture)  also is a "water brush".  When using these slightly different media, I've found a water brush is really a fun and easy tool to use.  The barrel of the brush fills with water and you simple press lightly to wet the brush.  (no need to carry around a water jar or dipping your brushes!)  There are several brands.  The one I have is called Niji Waterbrush and I got it out of Cheap Joe's catalog.  But I see that ASW Art Supply Warehouse had them on sale in their summer flier (until the end of July).  It is a brand called Aquastroke and you get 4 brushes for $8.73 (shipping is $5.95 no matter how small or large your order is).  The code # for this item is 41-3739. If you are interested.  I'll be demonstrating the aqua pens at the workshop on September 16...click on "sketching" on the labels section of the blog and more info on that should come up.  
ASW also has Derwent watercolor pencils on sale 12 pencils for $10.00.  #08-0389.  Now finding the water-soluable pens is more of a hunt.  I don't recommend a whole set.  Just black and maybe a burnt sienna.  Tombow Pens are THE best.  Sometimes you can find them sold separately at stores that sell stamping supplies.  You can google Tombow pens and find many place that sell them (I like the dual tip ones) and they are not expensive.  It's just the shipping costs that are prohibitive!  Check out the pen sections of stores like Staples and Office Depot and see what they might have in "water based pens" and experiment.  
The book by Brenda Swenson that I have shown is the one I recommend for my students in journaling and sketching.  Michaels has it for $10 and I think Cheap Joes has it for about $7.00 if you are placing an order there anyway.  Again...shipping is the issue.  It's really a terrific little book for the money! 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The value of a thumbnail sketch....

I was really privileged to take a class from Lynne Ferris this past winter. What a splendid watercolor artist she is!  She winters in Florida as I do and was willing to teach a few workshops at the Leesburg Center for the Arts. 

One of her practice lessons included working a figures with lots of light and shadow in them and a lot of chance to look at negative space.

I found this photo of my 12 year grandson, Nate, jumping off our pier last summer.  (Have you ever seen more joyful abandon?)  
      You can see that Lynne asked us to try out some small thumbnail sketches first changing the negative space from light to dark first to see which would facilitate the whole painting best.  I chose the light background this time.  
     Getting in the habit of thumbnails is not easy.  But it really does help to solve a lot of the compositional issues before you start the painting.  I ended up throwing some salt and splattering below the figure to sort of give the idea of the splashing even though he actually hadn't yet hit the water.  Artistic license.  
Take a look at Lynne's website by clicking on her name above as she is worth looking at if you don't know her work.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Off the Wall Art

I was reading Marjorie Caggiano's blog this morning and discovered that I am not the only one that takes my painting to unusual places.  At our north woods cabin in WI my husband put in a small fireplace (much used this spring as we froze) and while we waited for the time to put in some real stones, I got tired of the blank wall, and took acrylics and painted faux stones.  It would have been "prettier" if I had taken this photo with a blazing fire but now it's 91 here!  So you'll understand.  This is not the Sistine Chapel but hey...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Pursuit of Personal Joy is Serious Business

The title of this post is a quote from Robert Genn, author, painter, and internet art blogger.  Robert keeps a kind of blog called Painter's Keys.  If you haven't looked at it, do take a look.  Even if you are not a painter...if you are interested in creativity and how to spark and how to live it day by day...you may want to sign up for his bi weekly newsletter AND the clickbacks are really interesting.

 Robert paints (primarily en plein air) but also studio paintings and he works in various media...and if you google him you can also find his videos of painting techniques mainly in acrylic which is a medium I struggle with but love.  He travels all over the world painting and keeps up with his bi weekly blog somehow with his laptop...I do believe he has a staff that helps him.  How that works I am not sure...the blog is free.  

What I specifically like about Genn's blog is that he covers a huge variety of topics usually in a few short paragraphs and then lets people comment (published at his discretion, of course) and includes the commenter's art work along with the comments.  I have even commented a few times myself!  While most of us blog (it seems) about technique and sometime inspiration, Robert seems able to get at the heart of what makes art and artists tick.  He's not above talking about color mixing or tips for better composition, but he also talks about art as an expression of who one is and what brings us to the pursuit of this dream.  

This is the time of year when I try to squeeze a little en plein air work in now and then.  En plein air is not for the faint of heart, by the way, as you must pack up, plan carefully, and fight the environment for comfort..especially in the north woods of WI where I am currently located. This is black fly and mosquito season.  But I sneak out and loaded with repellent and try to spend a few hours during parts of the day when they are least offensive.  The pursuit of personal joy is serious business.  Now where did I heart that?  :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Lemonade From Lemons

This is more than you wanted to know...but while I was waiting for the rice paper to dry...I turned over the freezer paper (where I had been painting on the rice paper) and found I liked the abstract quality of the paint that had "seeped" through the rice paper.  I laid it on my light board and traced the the original drawing (only backwards now) from the other side.  I threw on some spatters.  Kind of fun.

Tweaking a batik

I am in the process now of darkening, adding color, etc.  Not quite tweaked to my satisfaction yet, but I think that if I let it sit now for a few days and then look at it again.  That's usually the best way.     8 x 10 rice paper glued on canvas.  

Batik part Three using Unryu paper

This photograph was taken by my friend, Mary Warren on her recent trip to Boston.  She has given me permission to show it here.  

It has served to inspire me to try out a new batik procedure.  If you want to see more of the steps you can scroll down.  This project is not finished...I still have about 3 steps left to go. I have all the tweaking left in adding some darks and deciding on some of the elements that might be highlighted.  The final coat of varnish and glazing will be added in a week or two after everything is totally dry.  
The canvas I used is 8 x 10 so it's not a very big piece but I am still doing this experimentally and need to keep the work in progress small so I don't get overwhelmed.  There are a lot of steps and a lot of things to learn!!  This is only my second piece~~~

Tune in again soon and I will try to update you on how this project is progressing!

Having FUN in the really messy part of this project...

Here I have come to a REALLY messy part of the project.  It's not a bad idea to wear rubber gloves in this section.  After the final coat of wax goes on you put it in the freezer for a few minutes and then crack it gently.  What a mess it looks like then.  You are about ready to give up!  Hahahaha.  After all that work?  No way.  So then you brush on diluted sumi black ink (or you can use really dark watercolor).  You need to really almost pour on the darks.  I used a foam brush to work it into the cracks and get it down through to the rice paper.  Then you use Kleenex to blot it off really well.  Ironing off the wax is a the time when you find out if you have anything worth keeping!!!  Then I put a coat of liquid mat medium on a canvas and dropped (very carefully) the piece over it wrapping it around the sides and.....

The LONGEST part of the batik process come next...

These two photos show the painting "in progress".  This is the longest part of the procedure and could be spread over several days if you wished.  I tend to need to keep on going. The waxing and the painting are alternated back and forth and the dry time is essential in between. The paint must be dry before you put on another layer of wax.  So if you have 5 layers of value then you need to do this 5 times.  You can always do another project in the drying time!  Which I did and I will show you that later.  

Batik on Unryu paper: Another try

 This time I decided to try using Unryu paper instead of Masa paper.  A VERY different experience, by the way.  Unryu is very transparent and is very much like trying to put your work on a piece of tissue paper!  I will give you some of my steps but if you really want more detail on this you can go to 
Sandy Maudlin's blog for last week (around June 18 or 19 I think) and she has a lot more info. And if you scan back down to my first batik project you will  also see a link to her explain in Wet Canvas.  I am using both of these to help me get started.  I decided to draw the image on the freezer paper (shiny side) rather than try to draw on the rice paper which I would find almost impossible!  

The second photo (sorry it got so yellow for some odd reason)...I just put in to show that I am using a potpourri pot for melting the wax.  I put water in it and then a tin can and put the paraffin in that.  Sandy uses a small fry pan for her's but I couldn't find one.  This seems to work really well for me as it uses very little space but I don't have much control over the temp.  So I am REALLY careful.  I would never melt this directly in the pot.  Now for those of you interested in getting a small electric fry pan such as Sandy shows on her blog that will regulate the heat as you melt the wax, you can go to Carol Write's catalog and order it on sale for $19.99. 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finding your groove again

There are some days when you are stumped about what to paint, when the creative juices don't flow so fast.  Serendipity sometimes comes along as when Chris Beck posted a lovely photo on her blog and gave us all permission to reprint it as long as we gave her credit for the photo. 

My interpretation was paler and more fragile in color using Rose Madder Genuine. Sometimes one's "mood" dictates how the colors flow. Just a "study" but it got me back on track again. 

This is a watercolor on 140# Arches Cold Press
about 12 x 12.

Teaching a class about sketching in September

This fall (September 16) I'll be teaching a one day class near Minocqua, Wisconsin called "Sketching Your Heart Out: Journaling in Watercolor".  This is my very favorite class to teach.  (If you'd like to come it's only $25 for the day.)  You provide your own materials).  It's 9-3 at the Woodruff, WI Town Hall, 1218 1st Avenue (Hwy 47 next to the Post Office).  You need to pre-register due to space. Just leave me a note under "comment" and I'll email you a supply list.  
   Although I'll be teaching indoors and we'll talk about all kinds of sketching...I am particularly fond of en plein air.  And although you can sketch in a plethora of mediums, my favorites are ink or watercolor or a combination of the two.  Both of these sketches were done en plein air here in the north woods of Wisconsin right around our lake and our cabin.  The first on one of the many islands and the one to the right is part of our boat house at the lake.  And once you've chosen a medium and learned about materials you can use journals in so many ways.  Many people really do "journal" and do a lot of writing along with their sketches.

Some use journals as "travel journals"...an amazing way of keeping memories of places visited.  Some make them into a combination scrapbook/journal including maps and ticket stubs and even a few photos.  I'll write more about journaling another day.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tongue in Cheek Fun

This painting, watercolor on Bristol paper, was another "experimental" idea.  I've painted on Bristol "board" before but never on the paper (trust me, it's not for watercolor!).  The idea was really, as I said, just to see how the paint would react...it's about 11 x 14.  Sometimes I like to put a sense of humor into a painting.  See if you find what I mean in this one.  The painting is called "The Paper Hands Flowers".  
And the inspiration were my Mother's Day flowers made by my two youngest grandsons, Mike and Pat who traced around their hands and then their mom cut out the flowers.

Part three of the batik first try

After struggling with finding something to melt wax in, finding freezer paper (who uses this anymore?) and digging up a piece of Masa paper (which is not really the first choice of rice papers) I decided to "give it a trial".  A little 8 x 10 small one.  I had a lot of trouble with the last step after cracking but I think now that I can do that better next time.  Can't wait to start on that!  As I keep learning I will share what happens.

Batik Part Two

Okay so after the line drawing was done (this is the part that takes the longest) you have to figure (so Sandy tells me) the value changes you will make..up to 6 and get that squared away before you start any painting.  SO I figured out a way to keep track (on my own) by numbering the values from 1-6 with white being #1. So it looks like a paint by number project now. But this really helped me and if the project spreads out over time, you don't have re-think what you had planned to do!

First step in trying out Sandy Maudlin's batik instructions

It's always so much fun to try something totally outside the limits of what you've tried before.  So when Sandy's started to talk about batik with watercolor on rice paper recently...my interested in this was really heightened!  I went to her Wet Canvas post and downloaded 5 pages of instructions!  Sandy really has been supportive by putting out so much information.  How does that woman find time to paint and blog and lead workshops???  Anyway...I started with his image of a simple line drawing and made it very small (about 8 x 10).  Then I made a copy of this on my printer for the next step.  The step with the numbers on it is a second copy...not the original.