Archive for the ‘Watercolour paper’ Category

Correcting errors in Watercolour

One of the very many Myths surrounding watercolour painting is that ‘you can’t correct mistakes’…

At the off,  let me say that this is completely untrue. If you react quickly with a slightly moist brush, clean water and tissue you can, say lift off splashes in your perfect sky with this method.

WHAT IF SOMETHING MORE DRAMATIC IS NEEDED ?

Let’s take one of my recent disasters I painted recently (thankfully they are few and far between these days), but it happens to us all.

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This is the painting in question, over-worked, little tonal value, no light source, dodgy shadows etc. etc.

So I decided to remove the whole painting, what I call ‘The Sink Treatment’. If you are unhappy with a small section, that can be lifted of with a moist brush and tissue. You may only be unhappy with, say the sky, if this is the case you can simply remove that offending part using the same sink method.

Let me say at this point, that most pigments do stain, in varying degrees depending on the colour, so you will never get back to pure white paper. Also in my case I had painted the stone wall using permanent ink so that stayed put.

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STEP 1

Run the tap until it is luke warm, this helps loosen the pigment.

STEP 2

Use a hogs hair (oil) brush or a stiff bristled household paint brush,  gently go back and forth over the painting until the pigment starts to move. Tip your board at an angle so the paint falls into the sink. If you are too vigorous you can damage the surface of the paper.

STEP 3

Keep repeating until you are either happy with the results, or until the water runs clear.

STEP4

Clean around your board with tissue, and let it dry naturally. I would only recommend this on paper taped to a board, if not the paper may cockle badly as it dries. Mop the water from the tape, and the painting with kitchen roll.

Don’t forget to keep checking the tape to ensure it’s still sticking until it’s completely dry.

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Once you have done the ‘sink treatment’ you end up with a pale ghosty image, giving you an ideal ground to start again. I ended up with a misty image which gave me an idea for the subsequent painting.

The following day, I re-painted the painting, using White Gouache to create a misty atmospheric picture I was happy with.

This was the finished painting called ‘Misty morning in the Bluebell Woods’.

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Why indeed ?

Here is a little idea for all budding artists out there.

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Here ‘s how your envelope may look, when you get it back

It’s an idea I got from fellow Malay artist Chang Fee Ming, check his work out.

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So the idea is that you paint on an envelope, mine as you can see was a printed envelope. You can either put yours or the recipient’s address on the front over the painted envelope, or as I did on the back of the envelope.

It was funny trying to explain to the Hotel receptionist in Malaysia, that I wanted my letter posted back to myself, back to the resort, she clearly thought I was an eccentric Englisman. But she duly obliged. Hey presto when it comes back to you, it’s franked with the date and location, and covered in lovely foreign stamps.

A lovely reminder of your trip, or a nice present for someone back home when you are on your travels.

As Chang pointed out though some do go missing in the post, or like mine the postal service didn’t arrived before we left the Country, and it had to be forwarded by the Resort.

Here are a few more examples, why not give it a try ?

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Well this is a subject very close to my heart, how to mix greens.

From birth we experience millions of different greens, so familiar are they to the human eye, that they say ‘never buy a green car’. Have a bump, get it re-sprayed and the human eye will always see the difference between the new colour and the old.

As an artist, especially a beginner it would be reasonable to think that with all that choice in your local art shop, there must be perfect greens straight from the tube.

It’s true that when I teach beginners I do use tube greens from the tube and mix them together. Now about my own paintings DEFINATELY NOT.

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‘Barns near Burnsall’ Private Collection in Australia

On one of the very few ocassions I attended an Art Club, in Horsforth  Leeds, the tutor’s favourite green mix was Ultramarine Blue mixed with Gamboge , which I used in one of my earliest paintings above.

At that time I was only painting English scenes, before moving to my new home in Bulgaria, where the tree colours were similar and the mix served me well.

Then things changed, I started to teach in other countries, Vietnam, Bali, Thailand and Malaysia. What served me well in the UK and Bulgaria were simply inadequate in these new exotic climates.

Bamboo, Palms, Banana the list of new greens was endless and new. Then later I taught in Greece and when I arrived, and started painting and teaching I realised that neither in the UK, Bulgaria or Asia had I ever painted a Cypress Tree (with it’s very bluey, dark green colour) or Olive Trees (a silvery muted green)… I had had enough what to do ?

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By nessesity (lack of supply by my local art shops in Bulgaria) I had bought the full range (48 colours) in bulk directly from the manufacturers (Tintoretto in Italy) to ensure I could paint without interruption.

This gave me the opportunity to experiment, which I took full advantage of. As you can see from my home made colour card above there are some 12/13 yellows and about 9/10 blues which I wanted to experiment with. This was in Greece and I was looking for the colours for Cypress and Olive Trees.

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So I decided to take 6 of my most likely Blues 19,21,22,24,25 and 26 and combine them with my most likely Yellows 3,9,10,35,36,38 and 44

I made 6 colour cards using these combinations and numbered them as above, so I could study the results. I also tried to show the tonal value of each colour going from light to dark on each colour chip.

For those of you who know the colour of Olive trees, that particular Silvery Green.

The Old Olive Grove

Or the dark bluey green of a Cypress tree, I am sure you can see a suitable Green on my colour cards. From a practical point of view it was simple. When out painting hold the colour card up and the choice of colour combinations is obvious.

So when I get asked ‘how to mix greens’ the advice is simple, take whatever blues and yellows and have fun finding out how many greens you can mix. Make you own colour cards, then  you always have them for reference, either in the studio or painting outside.

I hope this helps.

Happy Painting

Martin

Please feel free to comment, like or subscribe

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Our air conditioned studio overlooking the fishing harbour

Here are some examples of what you will learn on your art holiday in Bulgaria.
In short if you are a complete beginner you have come to the right person, and the right place.
I can relate very well to many perceived issues some people have when they first start out on their watercolour painting journey. Here are some quotes from my past students, which you may be able to relate to. I know I could when I first started.

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Fiddling in the extreme

Q. I find myself fiddling with very fine drawing instruments but don’t find it enjoyable.

A. I did exactly the same thing, as it seems much easier to control. At the outset you will be encouraged to ‘think big’ using large brushes, and dishes of paint.

Q. I can’t even draw

A. Depending on the subject matter you choose to paint, there is very little drawing during your holiday, and sometimes none at all.

Q. Isn’t watercolour the hardest medium of all ?

A. It has been described as being like a wild horse. But there are very few ‘rules’, master these and you will be up and running usually after the very first lesson.

Q. I have tried watercolors before and everything turned out muddy, not fresh like watercolours I have seen.

A. This is the most common problem for beginners to watercolour, and ‘avoiding mud’ has a whole section in my free e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’ given free with every booking.

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Painting with just one colour

Q. My paintings always look flat.

A. Another very common problem, and one so easy to correct. It’s so important that the very first lesson of your painting holiday is covered here. Painting with just one colour, and how to mix different tones is the first building block.

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Q. When I look at that big blank piece of paper I just freeze especially when considering painting the sky.

A. For most beginners to watercolour skies can be daunting, but by the first few lessons you will be painting skies with confidence, even stormy ones.

Close up of The Old Windmill & The Islands

Q. There seems so many ‘rules and dogma’ attached to watercolour like you can’t use white paint why is that.

A. It seems to be true, but strangely only in recent years, the great watercolour masters used everything at their disposal to achieve a particular result. Just look at Turner’s or Monet’s paintings and you will see what I mean. During your holiday you will be taught how to paint ‘pure’ watercolours, but towards the end of your holiday you will also be encouraged to experiment with goache, ink and gesso. We will even be using some more ‘unusual’ techniques using normal household items like salt and cling film.

Q. When I have tried watercolours before I always end up with ugly stains on my painting.

A. Most beginners have this problem, and avoiding ‘backruns’ or ‘cauliflowers’, and even how to control them is covered in lesson 2 of your holiday.

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Some artists even use them in their work to great effect

During your painting holiday, even if you have never painted before you will end up with all the knowledge you’ll need to make you into a confident painter, whatever subject matter you chose when you go home. But my help doesn’t end when your holiday does. You will have my e-book to guide you on your way, and serve as a reminder of your experience with me.

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

My painting workshops are limited in size to ensure everyone gets the personal attention they deserve. My style of teaching is simple, step by step at a pace to suit you. I also like to have fun so you should find the whole experience one to remember. My students from all over the World tend to come back year after year, whether it’s in Bulgaria, Greece and even throughout Asia.

If you want to read about what my students say about my lessons and my e-book please have a look at my other blog by clicking this link http://wp.me/pQX5h-5t

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Sketching at the harbour

Q. What is the best time of year to come to Bulgaria ?

A. My holidays run during June, July, August and also October. A lot depends on whether you like the hot weather, Bulgaria has a typical Mediterranean climate and some of the best beaches in Europe. There will be lots to do here in Sozopol after your morning painting session, which is normally from 10am until about 1.30 with a break for refreshments.

Q. What about my accommodation during my holiday.

A. We normally use a 3* family run hotel which includes breakfast. The rooms have fantastic views overlooking the Sea and the Islands of St.John and St.Peter. There is also a restaurant at the Hotel, a great place to watch the sun go down listening to a classical guitarist. Sozopol, with it’s Greek roots has many fine Restaurants, especially in the Old Town. The Diamanti Hotel is located just a few minutes walk through the old cobbled street to our Studio.

To have a look at the hotel, please click on this link http://hoteldiamanti.com/

The last thing to mention, is value for money. Unlike more ‘fashionable’ painting holiday destinations, everything here is about half the price of the UK. That means that a nice meal with wine will be about 25 lev (around 10 pounds sterling).

If you would like to find out more about Sozopol, just try a Google search.

If you would like an e-brochure with more details of your painting holiday, please fill in the form below.

I look forward to seeing you in Sozopol to start your personal art journey.

Martin Stephenson aka Stevo

Here is the link to enable you to read my e-b00k  ‘Watercolours for Beginners’. Simply click on this link:-

Read it now absolutely free
Happy Painting !

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

When I teach one of the first things I tell my students, is NOT to touch the surface of the paper. The reason for this is that however careful you are, and however clean your hands appear, they always have residual oils on them. So if you touch the paper the grease from your fingers actually acts as a resist on the paper, and your fingerprint will always be there. Not a problem on an average foreground with lots of detail, but an absolute disaster on say the sky.

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The reason I wrote this blog was that I just watched a tutorial from someone showing how to crease and tear watercolour paper. I lost count after she had touched the paper over a dozen times with her hand, sometimes right in the middle of the sheet. I just cringed.

I have also experienced this in art shops, when buying loose sheets, grubby fingers all over the surface, and that’s before they insist on rolling it for you. This is the reason that when I buy paper I buy it in a full pack sealed in polythene. This way I KNOW that I am only the second person to handle that paper after the workers in the paper mill.

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I guess if you are buying smaller quantities then sealed blocks or pads would be the way for you.

HOW TO TEAR IT AND KEEP IT CLEAN ?

If you watch the video above you can see how I tear full sheets, handling only the edges, using a metal set square,bought from a DIY shop, on my drawing board. The melamine board (bigger than the sheet size) has marks on the lower ledge showing half/quarter and eighth marks for the size I use most, Imperial sheets 30” x 22” . It’s fast, reliable, accurate and also ensures the paper is still virginal when my students get it for their classes, because I only ever handle the edges used to secure the paper with masking tape for my lessons.

HERE’S THE METHOD WHICH WORKS FOR ME

  1. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS AND ALSO THE BOARD AND SQUARE
  2. LAY THE SHEET OF PAPER DOWN ENSURING THE LEFT HAND EDGE IS LEVEL WITH THE SIDE OF THE BOARD.THE BOTTOM EDGE SHOULD ALSO BE CHECKED THAT IT’S SNUG TO THE BOTTOM RAIL.
  3. LINE THE SQUARE UP ACCURATELY ON THE 1/2 SHEET MARK
  4. PRESS THE SQUARE ON THE TOP OF THE PAPER HANDLING THE EDGE OF THE PAPER ONLY.
  5. NOW HOLDING THE TOP LEFT HAND CORNER OF THE SHEET, TEAR FROM THE TOP TOWARDS YOU UNTIL YOU GET ABOUT HALF WAY DOWN
  6. NOW HOLD THE SQUARE ABOUT 10CM FROM THE BOTTOM AND FINISH THE TEAR
  7. FOR 1/4 AND 1/8TH TEARS REPEAT USING THE CORRESPONDING MARK ON THE BOTTOM RAIL ENSURING THAT THE ‘NONE TORN’ EDGE ( IE THE MANUFACTURERS EDGE) IS ALIGNED WITH THE LEFT SIDE OF THE BOARD AT ALL TIMES
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Here is my set up for Imperial sheets

Please feel free to comment or subscribe. I hope you found this latest tip useful.

Happy ‘none grubby’ painting !

Martin aka artstevo

 

 

WHAT WATERCOLOUR PAPER SHOULD I BUY ?

I was asked this question the other day during one of my lessons, so thought that I would share this on here.

Call to prayer in Istanbul

The washes on this painting were done very wet and you can see slight buckling of the paper.

Q. What paper do you use and why ?

A. I use 140lb (300gsm) Bockingford rough paper Why ?

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Well a few factors really I like how the rough texture, suits my subject matter, and my quite wet painting method.

When I first started I used to stretch my paper, using gummed tape, but now find that I can use masking tape which leaves a nice white edge around the painting, and obviates the need for all that stretching and planning ahead. I can also use the same paper for my students too, as it’s not too expensive.

Another factor here in Bulgaria is that it is usually available in my favourite art shop in Burgas, the Armstrong Centre, where I usually buy a whole pack of 25 sheets at a time sealed in it’s bag. This ensures that after the factory worker that made it, (St.Cuthberts Mill in England) that I am only the second person to handle it.The reason this is important is that the surface should NEVER be touched with your fingers, which always have residual oils on them, which can ruin your finished art work . Something your average art shop assistant seems unaware of !

I would encourage you to experiment with the paper you can buy locally, and when you find one that suits you STICK WITH IT and get to know it’s qualities (and maybe it’s limitations too) .

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VARIOUS WEIGHTS  ?

If you paper is too thin it will buckle badly when you wet it and leave your finished paper in ‘stripes’ where the paint settled in the hollows. Too heavy and whilst it won’t buckle at all the surface can be a little ‘dead’ and un-responsive.

WHAT ABOUT THE FINISH ROUGH OR SMOOTH ?

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This is a very personal thing, a flat paper surface sometimes called ‘Hot Pressed’ is more receptive to flat washes and more detailed work . ‘Cold Pressed and Rough’ gives all those lovely ‘happy accidents’ where the paint sediment collects in the hollows.Try doing  a wash using say Burnt Umber and Ultramarine and you will see what I mean.

I think that if you stick with the main brands of papers from Saunders or Arches you really can’t go wrong. Most of the main manufacturers will send you samples so you can experiment. A google search for Watercolour Paper should get you to all the manufacturers Worldwide.

CAN YOU PAINT ON BOTH SIDES ?

Yes you can, but I rarely do, as the paper, having been painted previously on one side is never completely flat. By the way you can tell the ‘face’ front of the paper by checking for the logo. Sometimes you have to hold it up to the light to see the watermark.

DO YOU CUT OR TEAR YOUR SHEETS OF PAPER ?

I always used to cut my paper, to fit my 1/2, 1/4 and 1/8th sheet standard mounts, but it was very labour intensive especially if I was preparing 20 pieces for a large workshop class. After reading a book by one of my favourite Australian artists John Lovett I used his method of simply marking my board with half, quarter and eight sheet sizes, laying down the sheet and tearing against a large metal square, bought from a DIY store. I handle the paper only by the edges when tearing, then storing it in plastic bags to keep it in pristine condition.

If you are a complete beginner, and find that big white piece of relatively expensive paper intimidating,  (GIVING YOU THE FEELING THAT I SIMPLY MUST PRODUCE A PAINTING) try using Wallpaper lining paper, that should be a liberating experience. Stand up, put some music on, and get out your biggest brushes, and just have fun !

I hope this has been helpful.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ‘LIKE’, SUBSCRIBE OR LEAVE ANY COMMENTS.

Happy Painting !
Martin