Sunday, February 20, 2011

Plastic, Winter Painting 11

It was sunny today but cold and windy.  I hunkered down in my chair today and put in quite a few hours on this painting.

I started with the sky.  I set up the paper for the first wash by wetting down the sky area completely with a 3/4" flat brush and a #8 Round.  I used the round around some of the roof edges.  I set up my wash by wetting the entire area then I worked into the area I’d just wet with more water until the sky area was flooded and somewhat sodden.  I took care to treat the water as if a graded wash so I had an even surface tension & wasn’t flooding over the edges.  Then I dropped in a watery mix that contained a hint of Cadmium Yellow in the lower sky area.  I spread that by nudging it gently with my brush and also tipping the paper in the direction I wanted it to flow/diffuse.

To the puddle of Blue, I added enough Alizarin Crimson and a touch more of Cad Yellow and used that puddle to create warm grays (reddish) and cool grays (bluish) to modify the tone on other elements of the painting.

I used Cad Red mixed with the gray mix to do the dark side of the chimneys.

I’ve also gone over quite a few areas with friskit, to preserve whites and to help create the illusion of snow on the roofs and maybe a little in the tree.

When I stopped work for lunch, the entire surface of the painting had been given a layer of paint, whether it shows or not.  The layer of paint for the mid-tone values and the light values is thin and acts as a sort of a primer or skin on the picture surface.

I think of watercolor as being similar to oil in working the paint from lean to fat.  In the beginning of an oil painting, washy layers of paint and turpentine, in successive layers, less turpentine, more oil, more paint....    In the beginning of a watercolor, loose, wet, washy....  In the middle layers, 20-30% more paint each successive layer, not as loose or washy as the first layer, tightening the surface....

This is where it starts to get real plastic for me.

I start with big brushes for the watery layers and work my way down to smaller for the thicker paint and the thickest paint of details.  Sometimes, I mix paint thick enough to flow through a pen nib to add details with a fine point.  Or a calligraphy pen.

After lunch, I re-worked the sky area.  I made a large puddle in a flat dish and added in Cinereous Blue until it appeared that there was more blue than in the batch I’d mixed for the first layer.  I added in a very small amount of Cad Yellow.  If the Blue was an Elephant the Cadmium Yellow was a flea.... The mix was very thin;  I started at the top and graded it down to the horizon.  There was enough blue left in the mix so that it appears to be a pale blue at the horizon.  After the blue was applied and the paper still wet,  I quickly mixed in a bit of Cerulean Blue to the puddle & ,  worked it into the upper part of the sky.  I did this action a few times, each time adding a bit more Cerulean Blue.  I used these 2 blues this way because I see Cinereous Blue as a cool and receding color and Cerulean Blue as being a warm and advancing color, giving this area of paper an appearance of the natural, the Sky as I felt about it on a sunny day after a winter blizzard.

The final thing I did before I quit painting for the day was to erase the dark graphite lines.  I’m using good quality watercolor paper that can take it.  A lot of the graphite was loosened in the first wash and quite a lot of it lifted but I needed the dark lines gone.  I get a sense of enjoyment at doing the erasing and seeing the clean and image emerging from the paper.  I’m also pleased with the sky and looking forward to doing more work soon.  Maybe even tomorrow....

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