Tuesday, March 06, 2012

More Watercolor Play

This was today's effort, practicing washes.

It went a little better today; I decided to tape four blank note-cards to the board and fiddle with washes on them. If nothing else, the paint puts a little color on cards I can use as "thank yous."

The top left seems agreeable, though not successful as a flat wash. The top right is a little better.

The bottom right was a reasonable graduated wash, though faint of pigment.

Bottom left is a variegation that I like.

The one in the middle on the bottom ... I'll get to that.

Since I was using a different weight and tooth of paper, I started with a dry sheet. The pigment and water pooled on it, and it was streaky instead of flat, so I dabbed at the lemon yellow and cobalt blue mix with a paper towel, and got a bit of texture that I liked.

Let me explain that I have not worked with watercolors in a long time, and while I'm enjoying ... a bit ... the learning experience, I don't foresee a future in watercolors for me. So for this online class, I bought the cheapest paints and brushes that I could find. And the paper I had on hand is barely better than junk. Actually the notecards are junky paper: there is no reason for them to perform well.

Annoyed with the results for the second day running, I decided to switch off the cheap brushes, and turn to a Chinese brush that I had been required to buy for a worthless (well, almost) watercolor class I took at Penn State as an elective.

The prof's name eludes me, if I ever took note of it. He spent one session talking about washes, and one about matting, and the rest he wasted nattering about his own paintings, which were the very worst kind of abstract shit that somehow gets sold for $$$ because the artist is a Professor. I remember not his name, but mostly his habit of flaring his nostrils and sneering at those less talented than himself.

The supplies we had to buy included two quite expensive Chinese brushes. (Expensive for us, in those days of limited income. Not so very, but still more than you'd want to pay for a brush nowadays.) The larger of the brushes, a three-inch natural soft bristle, I've used a lot over the years, for sweeping away eraser shavings on pen and ink and pencil drawings.

The small, as the limerick says, "Was of no use at all," until today.

The Chinese watercolor brush from 1975 was still healthy, and I wet it, and charged it with pigment.


Suddenly the graduated wash was successful, even with the cheap paper. And the variegated one looked cool.

How I hate it when a sneering, self-aggrandizing prof from 35+ years in the past is right.

Finally, I pulled out a sample of watercolor paper that John had given me months ago; made in India, thick and soft.

Dry surface. I whipped up a purplish wash of EXTREMELY cheap kid's paints, and applied it to the paper with the Chinese brush. Flat wash, totally successful.

I'll let the pieces dry, and then put them under a stack of card stock to be ironed flat.

Day Two of Watercolor, OK dat.


Cheryl said...

Iron them flat? Please to explain this process further.

Congrats to the Chinese brush for finally being the right tool at the right time.

Aser said...

I stuck the curled paper under a ream of card stock. A bigass unabridged dictionary works well for the flattening process, as does a big stack of books. The paper has to be dry, of course. Tracing paper is good to use to make sure you don't get pigment on the flattening device.