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Watercolor Workshop Notes

Strathmore.com Instructor: Cathy Johnson March 2012 Week 1 • pre-wet your colors in the palette (spray or drop in water let sit for at least a couple of minutes). • Make a wash - work down the page, tilt the paper, pick up the color bead at the bottom with a thirsty brush or tissue. • Make a X of clear water on the back side of the paper to help with buckling. Week 1 Practice Week 1 Plein Air Sketch Week 1 Sketch 1 Week 2 Techniques: ◦Brushwork - round brush and flat brush - small and large, point and side, round and flat. ◦Dry brush - Try loading your brush and then touching the body of the brush right below the ferrule to a paper towel. That will remove most of the moisture but leave your brush full of color. Hold it close to your paper and drag it across the surface, quickly or slowly. You can do this with a flat or a round brush, or even with a waterbrush. Now spread the hairs with your fingers and stroke the tips of the brush over the paper...straight lines and curves. ◦Wet-in-wet -try using a sprayer and tilt the paper. Work on dry paper and also try pre-wetting the paper. Spray the paper to wet it then lay in a wash. Try two colors. Color will spread out and blend. ◦Lay in a wash and then spray the edge land make it run by tilting or wait for it to dry a bit and then spray - look like salt effect. ◦Plastic wrap or wax paper - Make a strong, wet wash and press plastic wrap into it immediately. Smooth it with your hands, and push the paint around...lift it immediately, as I did on the right side of the blue sample right, or let it stay for a while (10 minutes to overnight) as Week 2 - Cones on the left side of the blue sample. ◦Handprinting - use the side of your hand or fingerprints to make marks or patterns or textures. Try it like a stamp. ◦Lifting and blotting - use a dry paper towel or tissue or a wet one. ◦Draw wet paint up and out with a pencil to make branches. Blot for variation. ◦Scrape into drier paint to make lighter branches ◦Flick or tap to make spatters with paint on the brush or water. ◦Lift by spraying with clear water and blot away. ◦Push the color to make it bold. ◦She uses very wet saturated colors and leaves the bead at the bottom corner a long time.


Week 2 - quick sketch pen and wash

Week 2 - Osmiroid pen test

I resurrected two old Osmiroid pens, one with a fine nib and one with medium. I tested them with Higgins Eternal black ink and found that it was not waterproof, but it did make a nice gray wash. Kit: • Dip pen to use with water color • Cut up credit card for scraping • 1 inch flat brush Sketching: • Sketch fast • If subject changes position or moves, stop one sketch and start another on the same page, don't worry about overlapping drawings. • Use a soft pencil and a blending stump. • Sketch all the time. It's an exercise in seeing. • Sketch with a blue gray Dewitt watercolor pencil to get the values and then add in local color. • Jerry's Artarama has Creatacolor lead holders and leads 5.6mm. They also have the Derwent blue gray watercolor pencil. Week 3 I got interested in figuring out how to capture motion in a painting. I found that Marcel Duchamps worked on this a hundred years ago in 1912. His painting "Nude Decending a Staircase" inspired me to try to capture three positions of a Rhododendron branch waving back and forth in the wind. I photographed it at 10 fps and picked three frames to use as models. I traced them with soft pencil on tracing paper using the iPad and transferred them to my journal with rubbing. I accidentally transferred the first one upside down and decided to leave it that way. Later I added watercolor using a combined photo as a reference on my iPad. I worked upside down. It helped to see the values and colors. Combined pencil sketch Week 3 - Motion Study More Techniques: ◦Use gouache with watercolor. It is opaque so you can lay it over the watercolor to add a light color or white back in. ◦Try watercolor over wax based colored pencil. Do a test to see if the pencil lifts or smudges. ◦Do pen sketch first and then add watercolor washes. ◦Try direct painting without doing pencil or pen first. ◦Combine tight and loose. Do quick loose washes and then add pen or pencil drawing or go the other way. ◦Use a Derwent blue gray watercolor pencil. Pull color out to make a blue wash using clear water on your brush. You can add other color while it's still wet or wait until it is dry. ◦Use acrylic as an under wash and then add watercolor on top.


Week 4 This week her lesson showed how to use collage with watercolor. You can use it to add some remembrance item like a ticket or piece of napkin with a logo of the restaurant. You can also use it to cover up a mistake or a piece of a page you do not like. I wasn't too interested in trying this technique so I experimented with making a small kit to use while out and about. I made the mini palette out of a small plastic hinged saffron container that I modified with some InstaMorph to create the divisions. The lid makes a small mixing area. I squeezed some Lucas watercolor tube paints into the palette divisions and let it dry overnight. I add a drop or two of water to the colors to bring them back to life just before painting. Works great. The six colors I used are Payne's Gray, Burnt Sienna, Colbalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Light Yellow, and Viridian.

Week 4 - greenhouse sketch

I found an old black velvet zippered bag that holds a few pens, pencil, waterbrush, and eyedropper bottle filled with water. The pencil is a Pentel mechanical 0.5 HB with a retractable white eraser. The pens are all waterproof. They include a Pigma Micron 02 for fine lines, a Pentel Hybrid Technica 03 for very fine lines, and a Super Fine Zebra disposable brush pen for making variable width lines. The waterbrush is a Petit Kuretaki Waterbrush Pen. I may add a small sponge, a white crayon or piece of candle wax (for masking), a little bristle brush for lifting and splattering, and perhaps a piece of waxpaper for making textures. I like this kit. It only takes about 30 seconds to set it up or put it away. It's extremely lightweight and portable. It's easy to grab when I'm going out and I know I'll have everything I need to do a sketch on location. I'm interested in perception. We tend to believe that everyone sees the world as we do, but I'm beginning to realize that people's perceptions are different. We have individual physical differences - things like pupilary distance, eyeball size and shape, lens flexbility, number of rods and cones in the retina, etc. - but we have also learned to notice different things. I use the central part of my vision. I look at individual objects and detail. It's hard for me to take in a whole scene. Luckily I'm extremely nearsighted so when I take my glasses off, I can't see objects or detail. It makes it easier for me to notice major shapes, values, and colors. Now I need to practice seeing those things with my glasses on. It helps to focus in mid air a foot or two in front of or behind an object. It's hard (but not impossible) to break old habits of seeing. http://www.cathyjohnson.info/tips.html Lots of art tips by Cathy Johnson. They are all available as PDFs.Â

Watercolor Workshop Notes  

Notes from an online art course I took in 2012.

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