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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spouting about Watercolor.

Preliminary drawing for a more structured watercolor painting.

I know I said I wasn't going to do any preliminary drawing, but there are some situations that require it. This one came along in Bazaar's April issue, which arrived yesterday morning. I liked the full figures with feet in a Tommy Hilfiger ad. Usually the models have no feet in Bazaarand if they do,they're incredibly tiny. The cluster of women would make an excellent dekooningesque grand painting. Why not experiment with it with watercolor first? No reason.

Though experimenting with free-hand drawing with paint, I do think there are situations that require preliminary drawing. Figurative subjects is one--and another is if some blocking out will be required to maintain the white of the paper for highlights. The white button mums in Sunday's Spider Mum painting should have been protected from the paint.

I'm a bit concerned about having used a graphite pencil and how the graphite will behave when wet. Worse yet, I used an HB; I didn't want to score the paper with a harder lead. There's probably a watercolor pencil out there that dissolves? Not having one on the premises,however,I forged ahead. My plan is to lighten up the lines considerably before painting outside them considerably.

Then I detailed the first two free hand watercolors--something I said I wouldn't do. I couldn't help it. I'm a designer. Lines are in my blood. Designers thrive on details. Unable to stand the total absence of definition,I went back into both Mums and Panda and tweaked a few things. Now the mums have identifiable leaves and the model has boobs, eyes and a mouth.


  1. Just addressing a couple of your technical concerns:

    You did a lot right in the Spider Mum painting to keep it fresh and unstudied. I wouldn't consider using masking fluid in that instance. Think about blocking out the whites by leaving those areas dry by wetting the surrounding area and applying color to them and by blotting out paint drips on the white. Masking fluid, as I am learning to my frustration, leaves hard edges which, of course, are a blessing and a curse in watercolor depending on your preference!!!

    An HB pencil is fine. Some people use a 2B or 3B. I like an F. Lighten the lines as much as possible prior to painting. You can erase as the paper dries, but will find some pigments, particularly the yellows won't let go of the graphite.

    As for water soluble pencils, they dissolve and are great for graphite or watercolor pencil washes, but aren't invisible. They leave marks and/or color deposits on the paper. I use a water soluble graphite pencil for my value studies and generally prefer those to my watercolors.

    I find I need considerable planning for each stage of a watercolor, particularly the wet on wet/loose ones, but then I don't have a tolerance for "happy accidents."

    Good luck!


  2. Nanina, thank you for your most helpful input and the time you took to make this comment. I am quite like a blind guy stumbling around in a china shop with this medium.

  3. Dear Linda,
    First, make sure each artist is so different and YOU need to find your own style and methods = comfortable materials&techniques.

    In my eyes, making "White" is up to an watercolorist's skills, expecting outcome and situation for a painting. 1) Outside Sketching
    Who carries liquid or masking tape? So, "leave it white" is practical.
    2) In studio
    Options available for methods: liquid, tape, left over, crayon/candle, what else? It's up to your idea and what outcome you want. So many different techniques.
    Quite fun to check other watercolorists' paintings to explore it.

    Regarding pencils, each artist's taste is so different. I love soft and dark. 5B, more bigger number and biiig staut conte, as I sketch/draw very lightly and cheerfully, hands want to move without putting pressure on paper.

    But it's all up to you. If there are hundreds artists, hudreds different ways you find. Some are so fond of 2B. And others use hard ones. Others use only pen. Linda, a world is under your command:). You are the boss! Go, go, Linda, give it a go!
    Cheers, Sadami

  4. Thanks for the encouragement Sadami. I will make it my own. I think watercolor could be a wonderful sketching medium for me. I suspect though that I will want to mix it with ink or soluble markers. As I've said I need some strong contrast going on. Thank you for your input. The wax /crayon blocking technique sounds very intriguing. And you use such soft lead! I usually love 3B,but stayed away for fear of smearing during the drawing in--but I didn't want to go into the hard leads because I didn't want to score the paper. As for drawing in lightly, good luck to me. My need for contrast is at fault for my heavy handed line work I'm sure. I'll have to work on my finesse.

  5. Me again. I'm like a dog with a bone over this watercolor stuff. I just watched a video on YouTube I think you might enjoy. It's short and here's the link:

    Good night!