Just testing

If I’ve learned one thing since joining the world of on-line drawing, urban sketchers and other sundry artists, is that there are many different techniques out there to apply to any scene or subject matter. I haven’t been doing many watercolours recently, so I’ve decided it is time to do some more exploration.

Watercolour over wax crayon.

Watercolour over wax crayon.

I dropped by my local library the other day and selected two watercolour books from what was on offer. I was looking for something to suggest some new techniques or find some different ways of working. One of the books I picked up was Shirley Trevena’s Taking Risks With Watercolour. While I’m not particularly interested in  step by step painting guide, Trevena’s book takes you through both her techniques and her thinking behind the preparation of one particular work. Her strong colours, use of layering and interesting compositions were enough to get my interest. The other book, Travels with Watercolour by Lucy Willis, I have yet to get fully into, but almost immediately I found some ideas that I could readily apply.

So today was the day. What I was focusing on was masking and wax crayons to help indicate layers and complex shapes. My subject matter was a green plastic sieve with some figs inside it. Willis had suggested using a wax crayon to draw a complex shape which colour could be washed over, rather than the more common way of painting in the negative shapes and leaving the white of the paper to indicate the shape. Trevena uses masking fluid, among many other techniques, to reserve space and allow for complex pattern detail to be worked into a painting. She suggests using the fluid with a fine nozzled bottle to allow for more linear definition (obviously the nozzle on my bottle wasn’t quite what it could have been).

Early stages of resists on watercolour paper.

Early stages of resists on watercolour paper.

The photo above shows the first stage of both techniques. The top is the wax resist and the bottom is the masking fluid. I then applied some washes over them, keeping in mind how the light was falling on the bowl but not necessarily taking into account the actual colour behind the bowl.

Wax and masking fluid resist with added washes.

Wax and masking fluid resist with added washes.

Having removed the masking fluid on the bottom image I then went back in with some watercolour pencil to add extra colour. Some other suggestions from Trevena, were to use a stick to drag colour from one area to suggest detail, in this case the purple colour of the base of the fig into the lighter green of the upper part of the fruit.

Drawing colour up from wet paint with a stick and a pleasing passage of wash over wax crayon.

Drawing colour up from wet paint with a stick and a pleasing passage of wash over wax crayon.

I’m pretty pleased with these initial explorations and plan to keep working with these ideas and several others suggested by both artists.


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