Watercolor and Shadow & Light

Have I ever mentioned how much I love working in watercolor? Just a bit of warning, this post is going to be all about watercolor and I may repeat myself several times, exclaiming just how much I love watercolor.

Since my last post I went on a journey. That journey began by viewing Week 31 of Life Book 2017 titled  Shine Your Light & Embrace Your Shadow with Andrea Gomoll. I cannot say enough about this class, however, I’ll have to resist saying too much as I don’t want to overstep. I didn’t have the supplies Andrea used so I made a selection out of what I do have. I selected Prang watercolors. I have their set of sixteen.

I need to talk about Prang watercolors for a minute. I heard about them from one of Barb Owen’s live streams. She used them in one of the projects she was showing and spoke about how vibrant the colors are.  I decided to buy a set and since they are inexpensive I chose to go with the largest set I could find which was a set of sixteen. They are considered a child’s watercolor set. Because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy working with watercolors I decided to go with this cheap set. I had a different brand of watercolors around the house that my daughter had used for school but they were very poor. I think any other brand could not have been worse.

From my very first brush stroke I have been in awe of Prang. The vibrancy of the colors are amazing. After trying to use the crappy sets I had around the house of my daughter’s and having to coat my brush liberally with the colors, for some reason I keep expecting that from Prang and end up with way too much pigment on my brush. Trying to get a soft or pastel appearance from any of the colors is difficult for me. I get too color happy and just pile it on. LOL

I’m still on my first pans of the Prang set although the yellow is almost gone. I am finding I love yellow. I bought a new set of sixteen Prang watercolors which I hope will last longer and I hope I won’t start using until I learn to be less heavy handed. I have fallen in love with Prang so much I’m afraid it might be difficult to use any other watercolors, even the more expensive sets.

Since playing with Prang I decided to try a different brand. I chose a set of Daler Rowney Simply watercolors which come in a tube. Using them out of the tube was nice but I was afraid I was using too much and throwing way too much since I didn’t have a palette I could devote to just the Daler Rowney set. I heard you could squeeze the tubes into pans and let them dry and use them that way so I bought an inexpensive palette to give it a try. Since letting them dry, I have only tried using them once and wasn’t impressed. I gave up too quickly and switched back to Prang. I’ll have to try playing around with them again in the near future.

Because of the vibrancy of color in the Week 31 class I mentioned earlier, I decided to work with Prang. I had worked with it enough to know I could possibly recreate what the instructor was teaching and indeed they did. I love, love, love this class! Andrea is a great teacher. She took the time to demonstrate and discuss every step of her process in creating her page or art piece.  She made it easy to reproduce her results even though I wasn’t using the same products she was using. She even gave suggestions as to what you could use if you didn’t have exactly what she was using. This is what I created.

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My only disappointment with what I created was my lettering. I ran out of room for the word YOUR in “LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE”. There is an R at the end but when I cropped the picture I took, it removed part of it but that is okay. After all, this is about learning. In the future I could stamp the letters in reverse or use smaller letters. But definitely need to be more careful in my planning instead of just putting down the letters and hoping they will fit.

I loved this lesson so much, I had to create my own page. I pulled out my handmade art journal which I had made using watercolor paper. I decided to do a full two page spread but wasn’t sure exactly what I would do. I had an image in my mind of two faces (female) and heard in my head to create something that would represent my sun sign Gemini. Gemini being The Twins, I have always felt an affinity towards shadow and light, duality, and opposites or mirror images of everything. I am almost always in a conflicting state of mind because I can see both if not several sides of a situation, idea, belief and so on. I needed to reflect this in my spread.

I started out by drawing two faces on opposite pages. I wanted them to look as closely alike as I could while being mirror images of each other. One representing shadow and the other representing light. Their hair and background would merge to hopefully show there is no defining line between the two. Here is a photo of my complete spread:

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I will say again, both of my paintings were done with Prang watercolors. I can’t say enough about them, although recently I looked up their light fastness. From the tests I have seen others do with Prang, I wouldn’t want to create a painting for hanging on my wall because they will fade significantly. Using them for my art journal however should be fine. This means I need to start buying a small set of the more expensive watercolors to give them a try to see which ones I would enjoy using.

Did I say I really really LOVE working with watercolor?

This is a conundrum for me. In my day to day life, at work, at home, doing whatever I do, I want to have control or know exactly what will happen and how. This is exactly the opposite of what happens with watercolor. If you try and control watercolor you will either under work it or overwork it. To use watercolor you need to let go of the need to control and wait, watch and see what happens. Maybe the reason I love watercolor so much is because it finally lets me just let go and stop worrying about how perfect everything has to be. It frees me. It allows me to just be without expectations.

This is one of my first real attempts at using watercolor to do something other than just an abstract collection of colors that bled and merged together. This is what made me fall head over heels in love with watercolor. This was from a lesson in 21 Secrets, Tools & Techniques. The class is called Flowing Facial Features and taught by Jodi Ohl another magnificent teacher.

I still find myself hesitating when I think about doing something in watercolor. It can be so intimidating because of the need to just let go. Like I said earlier, my natural tendency is to try and control everything in my life so working with watercolor, even though I love it, comes with a challenge to step outside of my comfort zone. What I need to remember is I’m rarely disappointed in what I can create using watercolor.

These are two more pieces using watercolor. I absolutely enjoyed this class, another Life Book 2017 class. This one titled, Letting Your Story Surface, taught by a wonderful teacher, Mandy van Goeije.

It amazes me how many different ways there are to create art, even with just one medium, like watercolor. So far I haven’t found a technique or way of working with watercolor that I haven’t enjoyed.

Did I say how much I LOVE, love, LOVE watercolor? (I warned you… hahaha)

 

Watercolor with a tad bit of Acrylic…

I surprise myself sometimes. This is one of those times. The below painting is from the Pull, Pen, Paint course I’m taking online. This is the first time I attempted a portrait using watercolor. In different art lessons I have taken, almost all of the instructors state to not give up when your painting looks like a mess. It is hard to believe them when they say, if it is a mess then you are doing something right, because if you keep going the results will be amazing. I have to admit, there were several times, I had some “Ah, shit” moments and my inner critic would tell me “It will never turn out the way you want it to.” Well, my inner critic was right. It turned out better than I had planned.

I started with a pencil sketch. Then started in with watercolor, wet on dry for the face. I didn’t have flesh tone in my watercolors, so I had to mix my colors. The first brush stroke I put down had an immediate response of, “Oh shit, that’s too dark.” I continued though, using techniques I saw other painters do, like taking a slightly wet brush without any paint on it to blend and push the darker color where I wanted it to go.

I can’t describe every part of what I did because I really don’t remember everything. I know I pushed the paint around, even got some pilling of the paper but only slightly and I would back off a bit when that would happen. The face was all wet on dry or mostly dry, because it does become damp from the paint I’m applying but I never made it sloppy wet. I left that for the hair, the background and the blouse.

The hair was done next, once I had the face mostly to where I wanted it. I always have trouble finalizing the face until I have the hair in. The hair changes everything about the face. What once looked dark, becomes lighter. I put down yellow, and added water to spread it around more, added brown to get some texture and shading. Then I went to the background and the shirt.

The background and the shirt were wet on wet. Red down first on the shirt. Then black for the background. I blotted some of the excess water up which gave the background a nice texture. Then I layered slightly watered down acrylic gold metallic, not just on the black background but also over the hair and the blouse.

This is where it gets fuzzy as to what all I did. I returned to the face and added some details in black watercolor, and brown for the eyes, and added some blue to the skin tone to get some a blueish grey color for shading. I needed deeper shading, and less pinkish/brown. Then I added the black around the eyes and eyelashes, and other details around the face. I was pretty happy with it but needed some highlights.

I went to acrylic vanilla to blend in and push back the shading on her face. Then white acrylic for some brighter highlights. I added black and white acrylic to the hair which really brought the colors out and added dimension.

Pull, Pen, Paint is a course about using Tarot to inspire our art. I took three things from my Tarot drawing. A color pallet of gold, black and red. A feeling of being kind and gentle with myself. An inner desire to create a woman which embodied the essence of the Tarot reading.

During the painting, a storm blew in. Thunder sounded, and rain poured down, and the rather warm day turned into a cool cleansing.  As I write this, I look out my window. The rain still comes down but not in the hard downpour of earlier. Classical music has been playing all day while I worked. I’m happy with what I’ve created.

I have another page with another sketch waiting for paint to be applied. It is an idea I have for Journal52’s prompt Emerge. I’m excited to get started but need to finalize this one, and sign it.

Oh, I discovered a few days ago, I can’t do a web store on WordPress from a free WordPress account, so if I want to sell any of my work, I’ll have to purchase web hosting that will allow for a web store. I’m not sure what I’ll do about that right now.

~Patti

 

HeavenandEarthPainting