Saturday, September 28, 2013



I am going to preface this blog entry with the advice that if there is something you really don’t like about your painting either fix it, if you can, or start over, I ended up doing both.
Bad paper

Torrance redo
The PV project just didn’t look right when I got it home and in good light, I just put another ultramarine wash over the offending area and it is fine. I was not so lucky with the Torrance project. I tried a quick fix with another wash but it really didn’t help, I think the paper hadn’t been stored properly and the surface had gotten damaged. It was gifted paper and even though it is the same brand I use, I just couldn’t get it to work right no matter what I tried, it just looked too streaky and not the look I wanted so rather than waste any more time and paint on the dead horse, I started over on some of my own paper and I am much happier with the results. Just so you know your teacher has problems too.

The first thing we did – and this is mostly a whim on my part – we splattered our painting with colors and water. Most of the time beginner and intermediate students are so worried about being “perfect” even the slightest variation from that notion of perfect throws them into a tailspin and even before something is an actual problem, they are trying to fix it and they become fixated on a non-problem. By starting the painting of by first splattering we have already taken away “perfect” and we can move on.
Splattered color and water
Actually, many watercolor artists will start with some variation of splattering when they start their own projects. Look in watercolor magazines where they have the how-to section and the artist describing how they create their visions. Many of them start out with splattering or dripping wet into wet or so combination of the two. It is a very loose and free way to give an under tone to you painting. Don’t be afraid of it.

Once the drip were dry and I mean bone dry, we put masking fluid on the outside edges to about an inch in to protect our subject while we paint the background water in. do not put masking on the flower shadow, it is almost the darkest thing in your painting so it will need all the values it can get. While we didn’t need to mask out anything in this painting because we could have painted around everything (negative painting), sometimes it is just easier to be able to paint quickly and not worry about edges or painting around stuff. As you develop your skills you will automatically paint faster and subjects like this will be easier painted without masking but for now you know you have another tool in your art box.

Once the masking was dry (it should look clear not cloudy when dry) we mixed a color for the water that was ultramarine blue and Hooker’s green, I did add a tiny touch of burnt sienna but mostly the blue and the green. It was a medium light value. It will take more than one wash of color to get to where you want and you don’t usually want to get there right out of the gate (exceptions to all rules) and adding layers of washes lets you build up to where you want to be rather than blowing past it then having to fix it.

I painting everything that is water including the yellow leaf that is under water in a more or less horizontal direction with a scumbling stroke. (Scumbling is a disorganized series of strokes) Remember, this is a painting not a wall and while it is water and water lies flat, you want to avoid long horizontal strokes which could leave streaks that will be hard to get out. It might make it easier to get the paint on quickly if you wet the area first and always work with the back of your board or paper slightly elevated, even an inch is better than flat. Let gravity work for you, if you work flat the paint and water will stay in puddles and as your paper dries it can create blooms or back runs you may not want.

The second layer of wash I applied after the first layer had dried, it was the same colors but
more color less water so it was slightly darker and went over everything EXCEPT that yellow leaf. That is as far as we got this week. At Torrance I will need to do one more layer of wash at PV I think that I am done for now with the water so I removed the masking. Everyone: If you have masking on your paper DO NOT LEAVE IT IN YOUR CAR OR NEAR A WINDOW. The masking will bake into your paper and you will never get it off. You also don’t want to leave it on your paper for more than a few weeks. I’ve left some on for 6 weeks with no problem removing it but if you have a soft surface paper or if you are going to put it away for a while, remove the masking as soon as possible so you won’t have problems later down the line. We will probably be removing all masking in class this week if you haven’t done so already.

We are going to move a bit faster now because we will be able to move around our painting as areas dry, so get ready to work. See you soon.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Surprisingly, we were able to do the negative painting exercise in both the Torrance and the PV classes so for the time being we are all in sync. 

There really isn't much to go over and I think the short video does a better job of showing what we did in class but I will give a brief description here for those who missed.

First we created a very colorful background. I found that using warm colors like yellow, orange and red worked better than the cooler colors, but the choice is yours.

I only drew in the layer that I was painting around each time because all those lines just add to the confusion and negative painting is confusing enough - as many of you found out.

I used the same colors and value of those colors throughout the entire process and those colors were ultramarine blue with a touch of purple with enough water to make a medium light value. It doesn't have to be exact each time, just close. you DO NOT have to make it darker for each layer it will do that on its own, just let the layers dry in between applications of paint before you do the next layer.

Remember that this is NEGATIVE painting, do not paint the thing, PAINT THE SPACE AROUND THE THING. It is an essential part of painting in watercolor so you need to learn this. Watch the video and see how it progresses, we will be using this technique on the project.

Have the project drawn on your paper for class and bring the reference photo with you at all times. See you all soon 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

If you haven't checked out some of the YouTube videos I have posted for class, here is one on negative painting that will come in handy when we do the study in class.