Watercolor Study with Limited Color Palette and Pattern

“At the Docks”, Watercolor, 15×22″ on 140lb cold press D’Arches paper.
I painted this watercolor using only primaries, thalo/indrathene blue, Winsor red and quinacridone gold. No green, orange or purples were used. They were mixed from the primary colors, or created by glazing one color over another. Winsor red and thalo blue do not make vibrant purples…a more muted reddish brown purple is created because thalo blue contains a lot of green (the complement of red), ergo  a duller purple.
A geometric design with an organic (curvilinear) overlay, with dominance in horizontal lines and rectangular shapes was used.  I employed the “Artists Good Shape” where the main shape (lighter values) is longer than it is wide, touches at least 3 sides of the paper and has interesting, interlocking edges. (As described by Jo Taylor in her book “Watercolor Wisdom”, I took design classes with Jo too!). For contrast, I added passages with pattern (spots, letters, and numbers).
There are probably 10 glazes on some passages and patterns were lifted out with a Cheap Joe’s “Level Lifter”.

Watercolor Study with Greys and Opacity

Title: “Operation Hex” or “Hex City”…..not sure which I like yet. (22″x27”).

 This started as a watercolor “pour start”. There is texture in most areas and all colors are mixed/glazed with their complement to make luminous greys. No black paint got near this painting! I have checked all my watercolor tubes and removed all those that contain black. (I threw the Daniel Smith Indigo out and replaced with Da Vinci). Glazes with black deaden a wash fast!  There are many different sizes of hexagon-at least 5, and repetition with variation helps unify a painting. White Gouache (Holbein) was mixed with the complements and added over some of the darker areas to make them “Pop”-and placed next to transparent washes for contrast.

7 Steps of Final Editing of Cropped Watercolor “Pour” Painting.

Completed Painting
Cropped “Pour Start” Needing Finishing

“Covered Bridge” 11×14″. 









The completed painting on left is from the “beginning Pour Start” on right.
The pour start is a cropped section of the large pour in the previous post. Color differences are hard to match as the lighting changed in my artroom while I did this (ie the sun went down!) I don’t have the most sophisticated camera, but you will be able to see the changes I made to produce this painting. There are 7 steps, each one has a little more work done to it-which is described in the narrative.

Firstly, I looked at the cropped “pour start” from all sides….to see if anything suggested itself to me. The dark shape, top left, looked like a roof, so I developed it further. See Edit 1.
I glanced at my reference photos of covered bridges-more for inspiration. But having a photo close by may help with perspective and value patterns.

Edit 1

Edit 1. To Bring out the Bridge, I taped off a square under the roof using blue Painter’s tape from Home Depot (See edit 2 for tape in place), and wet the area inside with water, let sit a few seconds, then gently tickled/scrubbed the surface with and old soft toothbrush using even pressure and in little circles. I blotted the lifted paint quickly with paper towels. Rinsed brush and repeated until as much color could be removed without destroying the paper. In Edit 1, see that it is not all the way back to white paper. Even non-staining pigments (as used here, Burnt sienna and Ultramarine blue) leave some residual pigment behind. (Note: This “pour” had been done on hot-pressed 140lb Fabriano Uno watercolor paper, and lifting from this smoother surface is always more difficult).

Edit 2

Edit 2. After drying, to give the bridge 3-dimensions, I taped the side parallelogram with blue Painter’s tape and while still dry, lined up the edge of a plastic ruler and lifted parallel lines using a damp old small bristle brush (or “level Lifter” from Cheap Joe’s) to represent the wooden planks of the bridge. I blotted in between each “plank” lift and made them closer together as I went back into the background of the picture-so perspective looked somewhat realistic. Click on Edit 2 to see in detail.

Edit 3

Edit 3.  Blue tape has been removed, and this area dried with a hairdryer. To create the inside of the covered bridge another “pour” was required.

Edit 4

Edit 4. (sorry it’s blurred), I taped off a smaller square inside the covered bridge, loaded it with juicy dark watercolors and laid cling film over it while still wet. I arranged the creases in the cling film to emulate the wood structure inside the bridge. While this was drying, I added 3 strips of plastic- in the shape of a fence post (lollipop sticks would have also worked) and I used some threads from an old cheese cloth, draped between the “posts” to represent barbed wire, horizontal slats or chain in between the fence posts. (bottom right). Using an eyedropper, I added juicy dark watercolor to the dry cheese cloth threads -which absorbed it immediately. I added more paint until the threads were saturated. (Ultramarine blue works well as it granulates). The “posts” were lifted up and paint put underneath. Everything was left until it dried naturally, but a hairdryer on low could work to expedite drying. (Dry from the underside).

Edit 5

Edit 5. Removed all the cling film, plastic and cheesecloth threads and then started to develop the background “trees” from the dark marks at the top of the painting.

Edit 6

 Edit 6. Lifted out the tree trunk on left of bridge. I made it lighter so I could add brighter colors. Decided where my light source was going to be. (Left side, early morning sun)

 Final Edit 7

Final edits included, finished tree trunk on left of bridge, lifted out (cleaned up) 45degree braces on corners of bridge opening, lightened the sky (also by lifting), defined the treeline in the background, added darks at the base of the bridge on right side, darkened foreground and added splatter for texture, added middle-ground mid-tones, and finally lifted a few “beams” inside the covered bridge. Extended fence to the covered bridge right side, added hint of fence at other end of bridge! And called it done!

Usually I put the painting aside for a while, then come back to it with “fresh eyes” to see if it needs a final tweek.
I will try this process for a “non-objective” or completely abstract painting (with no recognizable objects in the image) from a “pour start”. And post as soon as I can!
Thanks for reading! Happy painting!

Editing a Watercolor “pour” Painting.

Whole Pour “Start”-unedited

Crop 1 (area in white mat)
Crop 2 (Bottom right part of whole pour)

Often, a watercolor “pour” beginning or “start” can seem overly busy and daunting to sort out the design, especially if no white paper was reserved during the ‘pour’ process. 

One of the easiest tools for editing is to use a view finder (or in this case a 16×20″ mat). Moving it around over the whole pour “start”, it is possible to locate the best and most yummy parts for a painting! Crop 1 is the area inside the white mat on the whole “pour”-I rotated it as I prefer that format. Crop 1 needs minimal editing. All the warm sienna colors make it look like sandstone-maybe a reflection in a canyon pool? (Click on it to see it larger). However, Crop 2 needs a lot more work to make it a successful little painting. It has good “bones”, that is there are light, medium and dark areas (Value scale) although, the light areas are small. The colors are complementary, and currently 50% of either sienna or blue. One color has to predominate…..
I will focus on Crop 2 and how to make it successful. See next blog for more details.

Abstract Watercolor “Pour” Painting

I laid almost every texture I own into juicy wet washes to produce this abstract piece! I placed each texture section in a radial pattern, originating from the “earth” in the center. (I had a stencil of earth, that I got at an educational teachers store). Click on painting to see “earth” larger. I was thinking “big bang” theory when I developed this. Again the hexagon floor mat from Home Depot was used (as it is rubber it holds the pigment in the little “wells”) and the pattern is striking. I used mostly a neutral/greyed palette and almost no editing was required afterwards. I peeled off the textures when they were dry and viola….this is what emerged. This was serendipitous, usually pours aren’t complete in one sitting! I will show you how I edit them in the next post!
“Birth of Earth” 30×22″ Watercolor on 140 paper. Available.

“Watercolor Pour” Painting technique continued…..

This watercolor began its life as a pour. I used the hexagonal rubber entry mat from Home Depot to create the texture on the horses rear! I found a hexagon stencil which was smaller in hexagon size (for repetition with variation) and the smallest shapes were circles….sequin waste, but a hole-punched pieces of plastic would do. I placed the objects into the wet washes only towards the edges of the paper, leaving a clear middle piece (less it would be too busy with pattern all over it). I had carved my own stamps out of a carving block from Michael’s and laid this over the wet wash (horse’s mane area, top middle and bottom left). Design note: 3 repeats of small, medium and large pattern gives unity to your paintings. I lifted out the horse’s head area as it was too dark. I gently scrubbed with just water using a toothbrush. When dry I delineated the horse and fence with glazes (thin washes) of color.
“Frolicking” 15×22″ Available. This one won an award in several shows!

Creating a “Pour Painting” in Watercolor.

Created this painting by doing a “pour”, where objects (such as torn wax paper, cling-film, keys, stencils, lids from bottles, anything handy that will leave a good pattern) are laid into washes while they are wet. More pigment can be “poured” over the objects in place to enhance the effect. The pigments flow around, and are trapped under the objects creating an outline. They are left in place until the paper is completely dry. Then it is fun to peel off the objects and see what wonderful patterns they have created underneath. (My favorite part!)
The patterns revealed often suggest what the painting should become. Clearly this was a landscape with rocks! I then enhanced it by adding washes, more texture (such as splatter) and a sun was added. There is even gold watercolor (Daniel Smith) in the middle ground.
“Ireland’s coastline Remembered” Watercolor 12×15″.
Note: Click on painting to see it larger and observe the pour patterns

Always photo your Artwork-even after tweaking!

An Art collector just posted photos of my artwork on FB that she bought from me a while ago when I lived in TX. I had not seen these images in a while…..and the some of them I never photo’ed! (Note, to self….always photo, save and back-up your work)! I think what happens is I photo them, then tweak/edit them and forget to rephoto! and of course, I often rename them too…just to add a level of organization challenge in my computer! Thanks VH for posting these images again!

Entered this into Rhode Island Watercolor Society open Juried show called “Bon Appetit” just for grins, as this art piece is not really about food. Only the glass of wine makes it eligible…..and probably only just. We will see just how far you can push the envelope…..I will know if it’s accepted on Tuesday 19th Feb.

“Smokin’ Hot!”,  22×30″ Watercolor and Gouache on 140lb paper