Dispell the myth of watercolor

Jeanne Hyland had an outstanding demo this past Saturday at Artisan’s Art Store in Santa Fe.  She began by show some of her work and an original of what she was going to demonstrate done the way most people do watercolor with layers and glazing over a period of time.  However, the technique she showed us was far different.  To begin with, she dispelled the myths about watercolor painting such as, it’s difficult, you need to work fast, it’s fragile, needs to be framed behind glass, you can’t use white or black and you need to save the white of your paper.  There are ways to keep the painting from drying too fast and painting on aquaboard you can seal it and not use glass.  There are also mediums made by Golden and Daniel Smith to use to keep it from drying out.Jeanne uses 140# Arches w/c paper usually but also will use kilomangaro.  Although she uses many brands of paint she finds for this technique Holbein paints work the best (as these don’t dry as fast).  She will re-hydrate them with a medicine dropper you can get at the pharmacy for free, when they get too dry. This technique is perfect for New Mexico’s dry heat.You can begin with a color photo and on the computer, turn it into a black and white.  Then, posterize it and get some good results.  Next, use tracing paper and marker.  Put the picture on a light box or window and redraw it.  Finally use a watercolor pencil to lightly draw it onto your watercolor paper.

Next super saturates the paper with a big sponge or a wash brush from the back, let it stand for a while and then put it on a plastic corregated board without taping it down.  It clings very nicely.  The paper already has a sketch of what she is planning on painting done in watercolor pencil which  may dissappear as you paint but you can rely on your photographs as you proceed.
Some of the remedies she has are to use aquaboard which you can seal without framing.  Aquaboard is  laminate on hardboard such as MFG.  The medium to use is Golden or Daniel Smiths white ground.  Paints: Holbeins does not dry too fast and rehydrates easily.  Use watercolor pencils, crayons, blocks, sticks, ink pens, and Derwent “inktense”pencils.

Here I will repeat the techniques  for NM hot and dry climate:
1. Wet and dry, pour paints on and glaze with another color when it is thoroughly dry.
2. Mask out areas.
3. Portrait-w/c washes and build up with glaze. For hair, you can dry brush it in later.
4.Wet and workable:  Wet glazing, wait 2-3 days and  later re-saturate and move the paint around.
5. Glazing in stages running color, soften the edges after.
Paper-arches 140# cold press or kilamengaro, cheap joes house paper.  Use on corregated boards (plastic from a sign shop).
1. Drawing on wc Paper from photo, turn it into a black and white and then posterize it to see the paintable shapes.
2. Tracing paper and marker.  Put on a window or light box and redraw it.  Or use a #2 pencil on the back to make a carbon type drawing right on your w/c paper.
3.  Use a watercolor pencil and draw it on the paper.
4. Put tracing paper over you photo and draw and then use carbon paper to transfer it.

Saturate the paper with water from the back with a sponge or a large brush.  Or you can roll the paper and put it in water.  10 minutes or so.  Use a small palette and keep the paint saturated with a medicine dropper.  Mix the washes in the lid.  Always have 2 large buckets for clean/dirty water.

To lubricate the paper, use a tea wash (lots of water and a little bit of pigment). Use shop towels to lift off surface water until it no longer looks shiny.   It will stay flat and not taped on the plastic.  When the edges start drying, apply clear water on the edges spritz from the back side.

To paint, use a foam sponge brush.  Begin with cad red light and scrub in color.  Get the paint on.  Starting with the complement.  Block in big shapes and values.  What happens since there is a lot of water in the paper but it tomes down as it dries.  Painting like paste.  Don’t use a lot of water.  This would bloom on dry paper.  Stiffer brushes don’t hold water (ie. acrylic short, stiff, synthetic brush). White buff titanium coastal fog, Cheap Joes.  Lift out to get the highlights.  Touch-up with opaque white.  Lift edges for the shapes.  Keep painting wet from the top.   Scrub out and blend it with more color. If you leave your painting for a period of time, re-wet the backside before resuming.

Limit the palette for one painting.  Under paint with the compliment.

How to lighten up the background.  Cut back in shapes with a white tinted color.  After an hour, your painting is still damp and the back side.  Surface drying.  Paint more water on with a wash brush or sponge it on.  Don’t use a spray bottle as you will get too much water.  300# paper takes longer to dry.  First colors percolate thru.  If paper dries, add more water to surface.  Better control-less water. When finished, put on kitchen cloth (microfiber), put plastic corregated board or w.c paper sheets on top to dry and watch it.


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