Changes --- #1 Got rid of that mustard color on it and glazed it with some pale indigo -#2 Eliminated the '+' sign in the small grate on top of it - #3 Integrated the other gold small grate into the grates under it. It was the only full circle, and the edges of it had to be broken. It really helped to clean up that big white grate. #4 Softened the strong, thin, white diagonal at the top right of the painting and lifted some whites out of the fancy grate near it. #5 Added an illusion that the white paint stripe coming from the top left of the painting continued through to the orange grate centered at the bottom of the painting.
That mustardy color on that big grate really seemed to weight down the rest of the painting, but it took me a while to see that that was an issue. Originally, the fancy grate was to have been the focal point, but as I painted, it became evident that the big white grate would be the boss. The white 'T' shape next to the fancy grate became overly important until that mustard color on the big grate was eliminated.
So now it really is FINISHED! (Started over a year ago in my head, then composed in February, painted in most of March, and finished, the first time, in June.) I like that the wording on the grates - about Indianapolis sewer and utility companies - is not noticeable unless you're up close.
The painting's traveling to Indianapolis in a week or so where it will be hung. It will be very hard to part with it, but I will have visiting rights. Right now it's my favorite painting ever. Though it seemed really big when I started it, it only appears medium sized to me now. I must put in an order for a big roll of YUPO to paint on..... wider than 40" for sure.
"AMAZING GRATES" Fluid Acrylics on Heavy Weight YUPO 40 x 26" COLLECTED
I started developing the tape batik process about 20 years ago, partially because I love the look of batik. No hot wax is involved, only some serious planning and lots of taping. We'll use plain old masking tape, though the specific brand is somewhat important. Each artist may choose whether to work with watercolor paints or fluid acrylics.
Below are several examples of my tape batiks,' some on Arches, some on YUPO. During the workshop, either surface can be used. The workshop will include 3 very full days of instruction along with a valuable critique session. It will be held here in my studio near Cincinnati, Ohio. Add this to your Christmas list for sure! Email me - email@example.com - for more info. I'll post some hot wax batik paintings soon, also.
Last week's post showed the results of this same image, cropped in vertically, and painted as a batik, using hot wax and watercolor on rice paper. This week, my goal was to paint this same subject again on a full sheet of Arches and to make 'atmosphere' the most important part of the painting. Leaving out as much detail as possible was my focus. The only details would be in the shapes that really caught my eye in the first place.
With a loose sketch drawn freehand directly on the paper, I started with very fluid paint loaded in a large squirrel mop brush - not my normal brush to use. Thinking only warm and cool for colors, I began the sky area and added plenty of water to let it flow on its own. The paper was positioned on an incline as well as turned sideways, then upside down, depending on what I wanted the paint to do. There were a couple of small areas that were kept dry so that they would remain untouched white - on the dome and on the hat of the gondolier on the left side.
My brush was moving continuously as the shapes of the buildings were placed in on the damp paper. I squinted a lot to help eliminate details, and my reference photos were not in sight. The only thing I had for reference was a thumbnail pencil sketch of the values that were important to include.
The edges of the buildings fuzzed a lot since I was painting on damp paper, but a soft, indistinct background was what I was after. Once the shapes were placed above the water line, the water line was darkened, and the distant shapes of the gondolas were added using the same big brush. I actually painted the tops of the distant gondolas first, making sure to leave those somewhat triangular white shapes between the water line and gondolas. The bottom of those gondolas were brushed in quickly with a sure stroke rather than a tentative, careful one.
The two bigger gondolas and their passengers were next, and the water areas were also painted along with them. Care was taken to avoid damp areas where sharp edges were desired. There was an 'oops' moment on the left side of the left gondola when the paint met some dampened paper. Wednesday's class was watching and insisted that I not blot the 'oops.' I want to thank them, since that's now one of my favorite parts of the painting. That soft, unexpected edge seems to add a lot to the atmosphere I was after.
Most of the water areas went really well, as long as my brush stroke was quick and sure. Later when the painting was dry, I sprayed off the strength of the reflections under the left gondola where I'd used a more timid stroke. I did change to a 00 rigger brush to make the line of the oar for the left gondolier. I used that brush to sign my name, too.
Before I could go back and put in more detail, the class insisted I stop, and this next photo shows the painting at that point. I lived with it for several hours but felt it needed just a bit more definition in some of the buildings. It seemed to me that there was too big of a gap between the detail in the foreground and the quietness of the background. The painting also had soft, pale values and stronger, darker values, but very few mid tones. The second photo below shows the finished painting. Stage One above - about 2 hours of non stop painting, after many hours of preparation..... I was really exhausted when this part was done. Painting loose and leaving out detail is contrary to how I normally paint. I was way out of my comfort zone, but I was loving the challenge, too.
Stage Two below- the finished painting with hints of detail in the buildings, a bit more dark on the dome, as well as the water and shoreline softened in a few places. This style of watercolor painting is what drew me to watercolor in the first place and sparked my passion for it. Though I've explored many different techniques, I'm always enthralled with the beauty that watercolor has when the paint is allowed to behave freely with the water. Nita Engle calls it 'letting your painting paint itself.' I was sure tired after those two hours of letting that happen!
"SUNSET SERENADE" Transparent Watercolor on 140#R Arches 30 x 22" COLLECTED
"ONLINE" Acrylic on Acid Free Foam Core 4 x 4"
This was painted with fluid acrylics on heavy weight YUPO, 40 x 26" It was a little unnerving to go back to it after thinking it was completed several months ago. I worked slowly making corrections, stepping back between nearly every stroke to see if I should proceed more or stop. Now I'm super pleased with it.
Sewer covers and manhole covers are things we pay little attention to, and yet you can find so many amazing patterns and textures in them. A future painting I hope to do will be of manhole covers from places I've traveled to. Since my sister-in-law was headed to Alaska this summer, I asked her to be on the lookout for any manhole cover that had 'ALASKA' on it so I could add it to my future 'grate travels' painting. She laughed when telling me that nearly the whole cruise ship was scouring the towns for an ALASKAN manhole cover. They found one for me, too. Thanks, Senie:-)
AMAZING GRATES Transparent Fluid Acrylics on Heavy Weight YUPO 40x26" COLLECTED
The very edge of parts of the tops of the clouds was misketed first, then the paper was sprayed to dampen it everywhere. The excess water dripped down since my table is at a slant. Only three colors were used, in this order - permanent yellow deep, quinacridone coral, and cobalt violet deep. Cobalt doesn't move much on wet paper unless it's really pushed around, so it was pretty safe to paint it next to the yellow even on very wet paper. Though it looks like color was sprayed off, it wasn't. Because the violet stayed where it was brushed on, it was easy to make the sun rays accurately fan out from one point under the clouds. Adding it to the darker parts of the clouds helped give depth to them, too.
Clouds have some attributes that are different than objects on the ground. They are sharper edged farther away and softer edged closer. The bottom of clouds is nearly always warmer than the top due to the reflection of light off the earth below them. Unless the sun is behind your back when you take a photo of clouds, there is hardly any pure white at all in them. Often the darkest part of the cloud is right next to the whitest edge.
So what should I do to finish the painting? Suggest a shoreline..... add a soft but more distinct horizon..... put a boat in the water or a duck swimming..... stop and leave it like it is???
"SUNRISE" Transparent Watercolor on 140# Arches 8 x 8"
"TOAD" Transparent Watercolor on 140# Arches 22 x 17" COLLECTED
Tape-batiking a face with the sharp edge that tape creates offers some special challenges with this process. The hat was my favorite part to paint and it turned out wonderfully, too. Some people have said that they like the square in the painting (I do,) and a few find it distracting. What do you think?
"IRISH EYES" Transparent Watercolor on Crescent Board 30 x 20"
Check out the new SPLASH book to see Monique Wolfe's results from one of the first workshops I taught regarding this technique. She's an excellent and accomplished South Carolina artist who quickly grasped exactly how to do this.
The painting of the 'doubletree' was done in Dallas for the experimental YUPO workshop there. A new painting is drawn on YUPO and ready to paint.....gotta go.
"DOUBLETREE" Transparent Fluid Acrylics on medium weight YUPO 26 x 20" COLLECTED
One of our local TV stations, WCPO Channel 9, ran a feature on the show in one of their newscasts this weekend, too, and LIGUID GOLD was shown on the newscast. Sweet!
Someday, maybe I'll understand why entering shows just isn't my cup of tea .....headed out to the garden right now. Must plant three viburnums before my Thursday morning class gets here. It will be a good class today! Have a great day.
"ORTA ARCHES" Transparent Fluid Acrylics 43 x 24"
Many years ago, I squirted staining watercolors onto an upright sheet of 300# Arches which had some miskit 'combed' onto it, then explored what I could make out of the colorful splashes. Below is the result of that very special painting.
"CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?" Fluid Acrylic on YUPO 40 x 26"
This YUPO painting has been created with fluid acrylics. First, miskit was painted carefully on the whitest shapes, then the whole page was covered with randomly applied colors of very fluid paint, all the same value. The colors mixed on the paper rather than in the palette, since they were so juicy when applied.
When that paint dried, the next darkest value shapes were also miskited carefully, then once again the whole page was covered with more or less random colors, very juicy. This process continued, each layer of paint getting darker, until 7 layers of paint had been applied on the successively applied value shapes of miskit. The result was a total of 8 values in the painting, as well as a unifying blend of colors.
Removing the miskit is relatively easy on YUPO. Use your fingers to rub it off or lift it off with rolled masking tape. Avoid using a rubber cement/miskit remover.
Some corrections were made before I could call it finished. When regular watercolor on cotton paper is miskited, a small amount of paint comes up with the miskit. Fluid acrylics stay put and won't lift when the miskit's removed, resulting in a more glorious glow to the colors. And since this has been created on YUPO, the "POP" of the colors is vibrantly alive. Love that YUPO - and love using Fluid Acrylics on it, too.
"LIQUID GOLD" Fluid Acrylics on YUPO 25 x 31"
NORTHERN EXPOSURE (previously called POLAR EXTREMES) Watercolor, Gouache, and Fluid Acrylics on 140# Fabriano 30 x 13" Collected
Posted below are several of my paintings done with this fascinating and ancient process. We'll be using hot paraffin, rice papers, regular watercolor paints, and sumi ink. Every artist will be painting their own original works of art, using special techniques to create their one-of-a-kind batiks.
Cost is $150 and includes two very full days of instruction as well as the use of melting pots, hot wax, and an assortment of tools. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. Do hope you can join us.