Sunday, September 4, 2011

change is good?

i feel that i have fallen into a bit of a rut lately. as i look back over some of my paintings from the first of the year i think that i have become a little too rigid and controlling. i have mixed more on the palette than paper, used less wet-in-wet, restated and gone back over some areas more and more frequently than i'd like.....overworking. to me, good watercolor should be somewhat raw, "wet", and show a bit of loss of control. those "happy accidents" that people talk about and seem to like about watercolor as a medium rarely happen when one tries too hard to make it do what the artist wants rather than let the medium have a bit of a mind of its own. this of course is arguable and there are those who make perfectly wonderful watercolors that are detailed and pristine. while i can appreciate them for the incredible control, skill, patience that they display in their work, it just is not for me. i find such control and detail to be tedious in its production and have little patience to create it personally. that said, i have been doing a few still life studies where i have tried to remain loose and let the medium have the lead. some of these are small, some are on a different surface than i am used to, some are done more quickly...just a different approach than i have been employing of late. i suppose it started with the painting of sophie and her cat lola. there are areas where is was deliberately loose and perhaps even, one might say, messy. as when one strives to change, the results are likely to be sub-par as one struggles with figuring out just exactly where one is going. there is pain in change and the road to improvement is strewn with many rocks and pitfalls. so, i expect to not like some of this as i try to move forward, but hope the end result will be worth the effort and strife.

here are some examples of what i have been doing and some explanation of what i did to produce each work or effect....good or bad.
"what to choose...what to choose"

this first one is about the same size (16"X20"), the same surface (fabriano artistico cold press, extra white), and subject (still life). the thing that i did differently was to splatter clean water off of the brush on to the surface, across the object just prior to painting it. i have often done this in the middle of a bouquet of flowers in a still life, but rarely with more single, solid objects. i and many other painters feel that each object should have some lost among the found edges and should be "released" into the background or adjoining object somewhere along its expanse. this is just an attempt to put some randomness into the procedure. at times i have just let it be after painting the object and a times i coaxed the paint a bit. while there are areas that i went a little overboard with this, all in all, i am pleased with the effect. i just need to work with it some more.

"plums and lemon with that wine?"
this next one carries on with the clean water splatters, but i was content to leave them alone after painting and rarely did any directing of flow. i guess i am getting more comfortable with the idea. it also is smaller than i have been working lately (10"X14"), a different surface (lanaquarelle hot press 140#), but the same sort of study. i found that the surface was a bit more absorbent than i like or was expecting. it was curious because the cold press of the same manufacturer i find repels the paint. i think i will have to try some other brands of hot press paper before making my final decision as to whether i like working on it. the table that the objects sat on was somewhat shiny and gave some faint reflections. i tried to put those in with the light valued washes in the foreground. other than give some texture to the foreground i am not sure they accomplished much and in my mind do not look much like reflections. to dress up the background, i played around with some geometric shapes with a variety of edges. lastly, i discovered what a lot of artists probably already knew...that sepia is pretty permanent and stains the paper. so i can paint over it with a transparent glaze and it will stay and show through. i used it on on the lettering on the label of the wine bottle. so, lots of discoveries here.

"hard water times in the barnyard"
for the next painting i am going to try doing some more animals and have chosen this photo posted by kay smith from the july challenge on the southwestern/western art forum of wet canvas. i am going to experiment with a technique/concept that i first saw in some of alex powers' works and more lately viewed in bev jozwiak's paintings. that is, putting a dark background in the upper third or so of the surface with a lighter object ( light on dark), a tapering area of dark background in the middle third (more less the same value as the object), and no or little pigment in the lower third of the background (with partially finished somewhat deeper value objects). this is also the smaller size and the same hot press paper. i did some of the same splashing/spattering of clear water over the first rooster before painting it. you can see that i have gotten a bit ahead of myself and for the next step will be drawing the second bird soon! i started with the background using a mixture of ivory black, ultramarine blue, burnt umber, quinacridone gold, carmine, and mineral violet mixed entirely on the paper and applied with a #12 round sable brush (kalish). more on this later. have a great labor day.

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