Painting again after the cold winter, making watercolour artworks
Theodore Edward Bear, AKA Teddy, was a beautiful 2 year old Rottweiler that loved everyone. His size put people off, and of course, the reputation (mostly myth and undeserved) of the breed.
I decided to make a quilt about him for my partner at the time. Peter chose all the black and tan fabrics at the local quilt shop, and helped with the cutting of much of the quilt. I discharge dyed the paw print fabric in the quilt, printed photos of him on fabric, and designed the on-point set in Electric Quilt.
My friend gave me a bunch of gorgeous roses from her garden a couple of months ago, and I immediately took pictures so I could paint them.
Watercolour paints and paper at the ready
Several failed attempts later I was happy with this one, painted freehand with the brush as my pencil.
Hate the light pink rose, love the rest of the painting
I have started a series of colour pencil paintings of Rylstone, New South Wales, a tiny historical stone village on the edge of the Greater Blue Mountains National Park. Many of the buildings date from the early 1800s.
My Supplies for Colour Pencil Paintings
- Stonehenge paper (specifically made for colour pencils)
- The photo printed at the size to fit the painting on the drawing paper
- A palette selection from my gorgeous Prismacolor™ Premier® pencils in
pigments to match the photographs
- Foamcore™ board for attaching the drawing paper
- Push pins to pin the corners of the paper to the board
- White plastic eraser
- White mounting putty for gentle erasing
- Sharpener (hand held) with sharp blades
- F or HB pencil for light preliminary drawing
The first two paintings
Historic Rylstone Station
The railway used to operate here and the old station building still stands, although is now privately owned.
Painted from a mid morning photograph with diffuse shadows.
A Stone Cottage
No one lives in this cottage at present. Constructed of stone quarried locally, it has interesting quoins. (Quoins are the joined corners at the ends of stone walls of buildings.)
I took the photograph for this picture in the late afternoon, so the shadows are dark and long.
I have several more photos and plan several more colour pencil paintings from around the village.
Buddi and his mummy came for a visit this morning to say goodbye and invite me to come when Buddi went to sleep. He was very frail and so thin, just like a human 90-odd year old would be.
I decided to finish his portrait so he would still be there for Denise afterwards. She was happy and is going to hang it in her bedroom.
Buddi Jack Russel Maltese cross
Buddi has been Denise's companion for fourteen years. He talks to me at my feet when I sit down in her loungeroom. My two little dogs love him, but he is old and sick now, and not too fussed any more about two young ruffians hooning around.
Working on the colour pencil drawing
I started his colour pencil portrait this week and Denise came to see the work in progress and was really moved.
The paper I am using is Canson Mi-Tientes in mid blue, which contrasts very well with his light coat.
Working for an hour each day, it is progressing quickly.
Buddi portrait in progress
Sadly, Buddi is going to say goodbye to his mum today,
so it's a timely pet portrait.
Watercolour paper is finicky. It is either too soft, too thin, too smooth, too rough, can have insufficient sizing ...
Paper for painting is sold by its weight in pounds (lbs) or grams, in sheets or blocks or pads, its surface texture, and its content.
In the picture at the top, I used 300 gsm sketchbook. This paper absorbed less of the water and so the pigment was more diluted, drying paler, and could be glazed for deeper colour. There is no cockling.
In the other (110 gsm) sketchbook, the cockling is very evident. The paper absorbed more water, making it buckle, and glazing would not be satisfactory.
Cockling on 110 gsm watercolour paper
In metric terms, the weight of 500 sheets of paper can be:
- 90 grams per square metre (gsm) — great for sketches, notan thumbnails, but too thin for watercolour. Imperial equivalent is 60 lbs.
- 110 gsm/74 lbs — often on a school requirements list, but not recommended by most serious artists for paintings. Again, great for sketchbooks.
The two most popular papers for watercolour painting are:
- 300 gsm/140 lbs is the paper of choice for many artists, although it may need stretching to prevent cockling, especially if you are using very wet washes.
- 640 gsm/300 lbs is excellent for painting your 'masterpieces'. Although the cost is greater, the results are far and away worth paying the extra.
Turquoise Flight (300 gsm paper)
When studying watercolour painting techniques, I kept hearing "Practise, practise, practise!"
Any discipline, be it physical or mental, involves practising. A marathon runner needs daily practice, so do artists. In order to get better at art, you can start your day in the studio with warm-up exercises, such as colour mixes or trying different brushes to discover their potential strokes.
I have been exploring palettes, water, pigments, paper, brushes, and reading many digital books on the subject. As well, I have watched several videos, and completed many online video courses on watercolour painting techniques.
Review and revise
On the opposite side of my studio from where I paint, I place practice pieces, beside works in progress. The distance helps me see 'errors' and decide which painting technique will fix these.
Techniques for painting with watercolour are numerous and, depending on the instructor's ideas, can be different from one book or video to the next.
Playing with watercolour is both exciting and frustrating!