Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fast and loose I

About ten years ago I took a painting workshop in Vermont, and was stymied by the instructor's repeated reminder that, in watercolor, the artist should "get in, and get out!" In other words -- stop worrying about the details. I've long been determined to free myself of this worry but it's tough! Details seem overwhelmingly important, so I want to paint everything. With a tiny brush! (my painting, "Orchard Offering" in the banner above, is a good example of my penchant for detail...)

Often, though, when I approach a painting in this way, I'm frustrated with the results. So now I'm trying to teach myself to be comfortable with painting "fast and loose" -- to splash around with a lot of water and a lot of paint. It's fun, and intriguing to see how the colors mingle -- the problem is that too much water/pigment usually means buckled, warped paper. To avoid this, I've switched to 300-lb. paper for most of my paintings. It's more expensive than 140-lb. paper, but it is so forgiving that it's worth the extra cost. I can now stop thinking about ditsy details, and concentrate on form and color. Yesterday, I was down to my last 22" x 30" sheet of Arches 300-lb. paper, but then I received a shipment of 300-lb. Fabriano Uno soft press (from Cheap Joe's -- my favorite online supplier). 

I wanted to use up that last piece of Arches, however, so I cut it up in smaller pieces and this morning I began what I hope will be a successful fast and loose painting. Several years ago I took photos of a peony blossom, all delicate ruffles in pink and white. It reminds me of a ballerina's tutu. 

I've spent about 30 minutes on it so far and I think it is going in the right direction. You can see the photo I'm working from, along with the tip of my favorite #16 Robert Simmons Sienna round brush! (available through Cheap Joe's) I decided to forgo most of the gauzy white background, but will probably add a stem and a leaf or two. I'll also keep the left side of the painting lighter than the right, since most of the color in the blossom is on the left.  Stay tuned!!!

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