Posts Tagged ‘stevo’

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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‘Confusion’

Over the Holidays, I have been drawn to abstract painting so have been doing lots of research about the techniques, tools and materials people use.

Unlike the ‘pure’ rules and dogma surrounding traditional watercolour painting, it seems that with Mixed Media painting has no such rules, and anything seems to go. So you can stick stuff on and use all manner of household stuff and cheap tools from DIY stores to get the effect you like, it’s all very liberating !

‘BACK FROM THE EDGE’ for instance was painted using Coffee Granules then spraying with water. The coffee gives an interesting texture to the painting and dries to a lovely glossy shine !

I LIKE THAT A LOT !

So these are my first couple of attempts at all things big bright and bold !

I plan on developing this blog as this journey unfolds, so keep checking back, these are small canvas’s using the materials (Gouache) that are at hand.

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‘Back from the Edge’

abstract-3I realise that it is quite a departure from my usual style, but would love some feedback and opinions. It sure was great fun to do. I figure that if I don’t like the results, I can simply paint over it again, and it will just add another interesting layer to the canvas.

‘CONFUSION’ was created by building layers of texture, using drywall (scrim tape) then overpainting with gesso, then letting everything dry overnight, before attacking it with my brightest paints and a pallete knife.

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Here were my canvas’s prepared and ready for colour

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Now I can’t wait to paint them bigger !

How to paint skies in Watercolour

Morning Sail from Sozopol

As a beginner to watercolour painting, I remember the intimidating feeling, looking at that sheet of relatively expensive watercolour paper, taped and ready to go. You have drawn your landscape then notice that almost two thirds of it is the sky (gulp)…….

Here is how I approach painting skies. I’m not saying it is THE way it’s just my simple approach to it.

THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND

The principle of perspective still applies to skies. That is that clouds look smaller in the distance towards the horizon, and are bigger above your head.

The other consideration is that the colour is usually deeper above your head than on the horizon. Look at the sky where you are now and you’ll see what I mean, unless, like me you have a grey cloudless sky.

When you look at a sky, the colour is usually different if you pan the view side to side, painting skies with that in mind adds variety and interest.

I once read that you should ‘paint a sky a day’. You can do this, just a quick small study, say postcard size, try it for a few days, and you’ll soon be looking upwards and analysing it and trying to work out how you would paint it in watercolours. Ask yourself questions like ‘are there hard edges in the sky’ or ‘is it all soft edges’ it may (and usually is) a combination of the two.

HOW TO APPROACH IT IN YOUR PAINTINGS

When I consider a sky in a landscape, I usually decide how important it’s going to be in the finished painting, and how big or important the sky is. This also helps me to decide how low the horizon will be, in other words will the sky take up 1/3rd of the painting,  playing a supporting role in the painting. Or is it an important and dominant feature in the painting, and make up 2/3rd of the paper. Or will it even feature at all.

I usually make this decision based on the subject matter. It rarely works if the sky has lots happening in it, as it can detract from the main focus of the subject.

A Corner of Sozopol

In this painting the subject matter was all about the house so the sky was painted very flat and without any details at all. It also hardly features in the finished paintings overall composition.

So the first question even before you draw, or put colour to paper is to ask yourself is ‘how important and dominant is the sky in the painting’. That should hopefully help you to make those decisions. In the painting at the top of this blog ‘Calm morning for a sail’ my painting was all about the grandeur of the scene of Burgas Bay, so it takes up almost 2/3rds of the painting, though I painted it softly, without hard edges, so that the centre of interest, Sozopol Town, and the yacht in the foreground, were still dominant.

Excitement in the Village

In the painting above called ‘Excitement in the Village’ the painting was all about the sky, with it’s unusual viewpoint the sky fills the whole painting, as the villagers look skyward, to welcome the returning storks in Springtime.

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In my painting ‘The Windmill and The Islands’ you can see how the stormy sky behind the white sails and the lighthouse is an important part of the painting. The overall look of the painting, done as a commision based on old sepia postcards of the ancient town of Sozopol, and that decided the overall colour scheme of simply Sepia, Cobalt Blue and Indigo.

SO HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY PAINT IT ?

Having made all those decisions regarding composition this is how I actually tackle it. It’s all important to bear in mind ‘THE GOLDEN TIME’ that is the time it takes for the shine to go off the paper. A whole chapter is devoted to this subject in my free e-book ‘Watercolours for Beginners’. This is the link to my book READ OR DOWNLOAD IT NOW

This golden time, as I call it depends on a lot of factors like

  1. THE THICKNESS OF YOUR PAPER
  2. HOW HOT IT IS WHERE YOU ARE PAINTING
  3. HOW HUMID IT IS WHERE YOU PAINT

Because I am usually painting and teaching in warm climates, this can be as little as 4 or 5 minutes, this means that when you start you have as little as 4-5 minutes to paint the whole sky…… NO PRESSURE THEN tick tock !

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So before you start your painting, wet a small test strip of the paper you are going to paint on, with either paint or water. Don’t make it too wet just a film of fluid, now check your watch and keep and eye on the paper. When the shine goes off the paper, check your watch again, and this is YOUR golden time.

If you fiddle after the shine has gone you will just end up with a muddy mess. Also if you paint with too much water you will end up with unsightly back-runs (the dreaded cauliflowers).

Copy of Final E-Book Cover Design

LET’S START WITH AN EASY ONE – A CLOUDY SUMMER SKY

This is painted wet into wet, in other words wet paint on wet paper. The secret to painting skies is to make sure you have your paint ready mixed, and also that you have more than enough to paint the sky. This is the main reason I use tubes of paint, and mixing bowls.

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So assuming that your paint is mixed ready. Try say Cobalt Blue mixed with a little pink to warm it up.

I start by gently wetting the sky are all over with clean water. I usually use diagonal strokes of water at about 45 degrees. Try not to go over the same area more than twice, or it may lift the texture of the paper and give you black marks. I’m left handed so paint right to left, if you are right handed work left to right.

TIP If you work with the light in front of you, you can see where you have been.

Cover the whole sky area with the water, I usually use a big round or mop brush for skies. If you have mountains, cut around them carefully. If you lift your brush vertically you can be very accurate in these areas. Laying the brush flatter, and using the side of the brush means you can cover the area very quickly.

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Depending on how big your painting is, your golden time, and how fast you paint. Before you start to use your paint, check the damp paper especially where you started, if it has started to lose it’s shine already go back over the area again with water. Once you have a consistent film of water you are now ready to paint.

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Work quickly using the same diagonal brushstrokes, as you approach the horizon use less paint and it will go lighter towards the horizon. If you want some soft clouds just leave some areas without paint. Once the sky are is covered consider the shapes of the clouds. If you want to alter or extend them, now is the time to consider doing it, as long as there is still shine on  the paper.

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We will create the clouds with two ‘lifting off’ techniques, one with your brush another using tissue. Wash you brush out THOROUGHLY then squeeze it on a towel or kitchen paper, or squeeze the brush between your fingers removing most BUT NOT ALL of the moisture. I call this a ‘thirsty’ brush. Lift out the cloud shapes, then rinse and repeat until you are happy with the sky. If you want hard edged clouds try crumpled up kitchen paper. Keep changing the shape of the paper after each cloud to avoid a pattern, remembering that every cloud is usually a unique shape.

TIP A combination of hard and soft cloud shapes usually works best.Lifting off with a brush gives more subtle clouds, tissue less so.

If you want more movement in the sky tip your board, or paint at a slight angle. I usually paint on an angle of about 15-20 degrees on my home made board.

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If you do tip your painting, take care with the bead of paint that will collect, and be ready to mop it up with your thirsty brush, or the corner of kitchen towel.

NOW LEAVE IT ALONE

The shine will have gone by now (especially on those areas where your clouds are) any fiddling at this stage WILL ruin your freshly painted sky.

Carefully wipe around the taped edge to avoid paint bleeding into your painting as the  paper dries flat. Dry the sky with a hairdryer on slow speed checking the tape as it dries.

If you need to tidy up any edges, say around the mountains, wait for the painting to dry then get the shapes back with a moist flat brush.

I usually try to paint my skies like this in ‘one hit’, as I think it makes for a fresh and lively looking sky.

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Here is how the sky looked in my finished painting ‘Light and Shade in Meteora’

I hope you liked this blog on painting a Summer sky in Watercolours, next time Stormy Skies !

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LIKE, COMMENT AND SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG.

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You can find lot’s more tutorials on my Youtube channel by clicking on this link below

My youtube channel

 

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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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 ?

BBOCKINGFORD

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

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‘Watercolours for Beginners’ is an e-book by English Artist Martin Stephenson.

His step by step guide takes you through all the tips and techniques you will need to get you painting fast.

Martin’s fun teaching techniques strips away a lot of the mystique surrounding Watercolour painting.

The book has 20 lessons and 157 lavishly illustrated pages, using simple to understand graphics.

To download his book please follow this link

https://gumroad.com/l/CSjh

Happy Painting !

Martin Stephenson (aka Stevo)