The Pressure of Handmade Christmas Cards

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Robin Christmas Card (Watercolour)

Before the weekend I was anticipating spending two whole days creating lots of Christmas Cards to send out to friends and family… I did manage to spend quite a lot of time painting, but a change in the weather and a change of watercolour paper made the results rather unpredictable.

Today we’ve celebrated our sixth day in a row of spectacular thunderstorms and thirty degree heat – I had forgotten how hard it is to paint when it gets hot over here, you have to be so much quicker! Despite many tries I’ve also really struggled to get a salt effect to work at all, probably due to the extra humidity. You can see here that the salt didn’t soak up the pigment to leave white starburst effects as you’d expect. Instead I’ve just got little dark blue dots… not exactly what I hoped for as a snow effect.

On top of that I started using some new watercolour paper for the first time: SAA’s own practice paper, 140lbs, rough. And I’m afraid I don’t like it very much – it ‘s a little less white than the Bockingford I’ve been using, and seems to carry less size as well, meaning that paint soaks in more readily and is harder to move around or lift off.

Despite all that this little guy is slowly coming along. His eye needs lots of work and a few other details need putting in, such as the branch, but it’s better than I expected after such a trial.

I also started to paint a gorgeous red cardinal but I didn’t get very far so I’ll have to share that with you next time 😉

 

Muskrat in the Snow, Pt. 3

Muskrat (Watercolour)

Muskrat (Watercolour)

Today wasn’t such a good one for painting… it was pretty good for Excel spreadsheets and database work but I think that put my mind in a Left brain kind of state that I couldn’t get out of. Despite studying the photo for some time before beginning and being as patient as I could nothing was working well.

As a result this is looking a lot more like a pencil drawing than a loose crisp watercolour. I washed out the upper portion as the background was too bright and wasn’t receding, then used dry brush strokes to reintroduce some texture.

Generally it’s a bit over worked… and my sticks are disappointingly unstick like. Time to start again 😛 .

Snow & Ice… and a Muskrat?

Muskrat (Watercolour)

Muskrat (Watercolour)

As I add more depth to the snowy areas I’m more & more convinced I’ve overdone the colours with this painting… it’s looking very vibrant and maybe just a bit over powering, but it’s a little late to worry that I didn’t leave enough lighter areas 🙂 .

I’ve begun to add the muskrat this afternoon with a mix of Raw Sienna and Ultramarine Blue – and some of the Sap Green is still showing through from the first wash which makes for an interesting colour mix. It doesn’t look much like a Muskrat yet, though it has potential. I’ve also tried to deepen the blue background snow, so that I could try and generate some texture with salt while it was wet.

 

Snow & Ice, Brrr!

Muskrat (Watercolour)

Muskrat (Watercolour)

The weather’s turned quite cold this weekend, it’s a bit unseasonal for this time of year and I’ve got an extra layer on…

Looking through some of my favourite photos on Paintmyphoto (you can bookmark them for later) I was drawn to one of a Muskrat in the snow by Rita Marlow – it’s so icy it actually made me feel warmer and it looked like a good one to practise some of the techniques I was trying earlier in the week. I also loved the combination of colours, and while I don’t think I’ve got them quite right on this try, the blues are electric.

Here is the first wash… after saving some white sticks with masking fluid I flooded the paper with water and gently brushed in some colours. The top bands are Ultramarine Blue and lower down it’s Cerulean Blue and a tiny amount of Sap Green (just a tiny bit too much!)

I’m starting to become more aware of the different properties of the individual paints – incidentally, it’s interesting how the mind seems only able to tackle one level of complexity at a time. While I was struggling to get the paintbrush to behave last year and wondering how to get paint on paper ideas such as composition, colour theory, how the paints behave, were impossible to even think about. Anyway, with this piece I should have perhaps considered them earlier as I seem to have got some granulating Ultramarine Blue in an area which should later be smooth water 😛 .

Day 208: Chinese Winter Landscape

Winter Landscape (Chinese Spontaneous Style)

Winter Landscape (Chinese Spontaneous Style)

Despite having to work today I still managed to make it to my painting class, with a bit of juggling and running around mid afternoon. We’ve already moved on from Camellias and have started a winter landscape – I still can’t get used to winter in July, especially when it’s 20 degrees outside!

I’m not very keen on Chinese landscapes as they’re very laborious, but this one might be an exception. It’s still looks like it will be very heavy going, but hopefully the end result will be worth it, with mountains, trees, water and snow all included.

The first step has tested me already with the ink outlines of three foreground trees, and I think I’ve actually got them about the right size – a first for me as my Chinese trees are usually way too big. They’re not very convincing in shape though… oh well, one step at a time 🙂