I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Mixing and Daubing

Hello all!  Thank you for the lovely feedback on the Wild Grasses.  I have a feeling there will be more coming along those lines as I continue to explore how I want to use watercolours in my creating.  For now, we're going back to start at the very beginning (a very fine place to start).

Really these posts are for my own virtual scrapbook records.  I like being able to trace the steps on the journey.  If you care to join me on the way, that's a lovely bonus, or you can just go for a quick scroll if you prefer...

I was very happy when my short trip to New York for work at the end of January coincided with a 40% off coupon at Blicks, a favourite art supplies shop.  Once the work was done, I was straight on the subway to go and see what they might have to play with.

I did have an idea of what I wanted.  About two years ago, I got some Qor watercolour paint tubes (made by Golden) on an offer and had a tiny dabble with them then.  I knew there was a newer sampler collection of 12 tubes around, and that was on my hit list.

Happily they were in stock so I grabbed them, and some large 9x12 inch Canson watercolour pads which were on offer, as well as a cheap set of brushes.  I did, of course, have brushes at home, but I wanted to play right then, that evening, in my hotel room!

I really just did some mixing and daubing, to see what sort of colours they were and how they played together.

I started with a fairly formal colour chart of just two colours - Nickel Azo Yellow and Ultramarine Blue.  The two left-hand columns are the colours unmixed.

It's not too formal - my pencil boxes got a little tipsy as they went across the page.  It's great fun to see how many shades and tones appear with different mixes and water washes.

And as you can see I used up some of the extra paint on some words...

But I decided that was too formulaic for the mood I was in that day (though I'll definitely do the same with other colours another time), so for the next page I allowed myself four colours - Paynes Grey, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Yellow Ochre - and just dabbled.

I love letting the colours run in to one another to see the mixing possibilities.

And because it's just playing and learning, loose and free, I even found myself really enjoying the red zone (and on into pink and orange too...)

A couple of my usual doodles made their way onto the page.

The cheap brushes turned out to be rather nice to use, creating shapely strokes to turn into leaves.

Back down to a trio - Paynes Grey, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue.  I had so much paint on the brush (unintentionally - lesson learned now!) that the first dark blue sweep took up half the page by the time I'd spread the pigment out.

A little more writing practice, just using up paint on the brush.  My brushwriting turns out to be similar to but not the same as my handwriting.

I had a play with how light a wash I could use.  There's so much pigment in these paints that you can really use loads of water and still get a beautiful effect.

I wanted to see some of my green options, so I tried out a page with Nickel Azo Yellow and Phthalo Blue, mixing both on the lid of the paint box and on the page as I went.

The blob at the top formed itself into a clump of leaves without my even really thinking about it, so I gave it some rough sort-of-dandelion heads (though I know they're not really dandelion leaves), and added texture with the end of the brush handle.

Then I found myself playing with stems and grasses over the rest of the page too.

I'm fascinated by how many colour tones you can get with just two paints.

I carried on with those two colours on the next page, but added some Paynes Grey into the mix too - complete change of atmosphere.

Again, the doodling led me to plants and trees.

I like the cooler blue/greens of this page very much.

And I enjoyed painting water on first and allowing the paints to bleed into it - really cool effects.

So those were my hotel room daubings.  I was back home for the next few.  I'd planned to get back into the craft room properly, but I found myself unable/unwilling to stop playing with the watercolours.  Besides, I can do that in the living room where it's much warmer!

There's a whole page of Dioxazine Purple, experimenting with brush strokes after watching some videos on youtube.

Lots of lovely possibilities here, and slightly better brushes to accomplish them with.

(They're still not mega-expensive, I assure you.  I swoon at the prices of some of the brushes you can get!)

I added Quinacridone Gold Deep into the mix for the next page.

I'd been looking at videos about how you get neutrals when you use contrasting colours, and I love the browns and greys I got with these two.

Business as usual with the trees and grasses...

But I also tried out a couple of little figures, very impressionistic, not detailed.  It's mostly chance, but with a little bit of control.

I intentionally created the pairings, but I love how alive they seem to be in their conversations, which I didn't really have much to do with.

I really loved the neutrals I got with mixing, but the purple was maybe a bit much for me, so I retreated to my blues and greens for the next page of playing.

I think this is Sap Green and Indigo in action together.

Continuing to try out brush shapes and strokes and positions...

Some more of the inevitable grasses...

... and some more painting with water and then adding pigment strokes and letting them just do their thing.

Finally for today, some more colour combinations (which I stupidly didn't write down, but there's Payne's Grey and Quin Gold in the bottom half of the page, and I think the Alizarin Crimson again, but the rest is up for debate), and a bit of circle practice.

I was also playing with dropping colours into other colours, wet on wet.  

I completely understand why people become obsessed with watercolour as a medium!

So that's enough experimentation for one day.  I'll be back soon with some watercolour florals... Florals?  Yes, florals - well, flowers are basically glorified grasses, aren't they?!  Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you again soon.

All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make, the better.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, 17 February 2017

Wild Grasses

Hello all!  I'm going to try to get some more posts up over the next couple of weeks.  I'm feeling very neglectful of Words and Pictures and Craftyblogland generally.

It's partly being busy with work, and partly my usual January/February hibernation tendencies which, this year, are being exacerbated by an ominous sense of the world unravelling.

My solace has been some obsessive watercolour experimentation.  The learning curve is steep enough to absorb my whole attention and distract me for a while from an outlook which, to me, seems bleak.

You've seen a couple of dabblings already, and I plan to offer up a bit of a "watercolour intensive" next week, sharing my journey.  But first I'm going to leap ahead to the most recent bit of watercolour exploration.

So today I'm sharing a journalling page inspired by a pin I found of a piece by Mandy Pattullo.

Regulars will know I'm addicted to meadow grasses, and I've been doodling them for a while now so, when I saw her beautiful work, I immediately wanted to try my own version of it.

I've had a play with pen and ink a few times in the past (check out Putting Pen to Paper for instance), and over the last few days I've also been creating a pen and watercolour tree series (more of that very soon), so this was a sideways step to combine several past experiments in a new way.

I haven't used real ephemera for my version.  My embarkation card is created with a stamp, a pencil and some paint.  As you can see, I've got some more lined up for future pages...

I'm rather pleased with the effect and, of course, it means you don't lose the lovely watercolour paper texture for the rest of the inky drawing and painting.

Even though my ephemera isn't real, I do have some other papers involved.  There are some strips torn from preserved teabag papers.

I think they add extra interest and detail to the page (and the Chai Spice tea is delicious too!)

For the architecture of the grasses I used my dip pen with a bottle of Dr Ph Martins Bombay ink in Sepia.  It's waterproof, so once it's dry, you're good to go with the watercolours.

Initially all the stems were very spindly indeed, but then I clumsily allowed a big blot to form on one.

A happy accident, as it turned out, so I extended it to the other stems.  I ended up with much more interesting stems, knotty and sturdy enough to hold up the large flower heads.

I like using the dip pen.  It's pleasantly unpredictable, so you get less uniform results than with a highly controllable new-fangled fountain pen!

I used some Sennelier watercolours to add the tiny flower heads on all the stems.  There are various shades of brown and grey... fairly reflective of my general mood at present.

But I like the overall effect, especially with the tiny splatters added over the top at the end.

And watery washes around the page give depth and allow the imagination to fill in shadowy details.

Can't do without a WordBand, altered with some alcohol ink and paint and then glued down, but also "attached" with some fine twine.

And I mounted the page (torn out of the watercolour sketchbook) into my kraft nature journal with a framing wash of Vintage Photo Distress Stain just to help it pop a little more from the kraft background.

So there's where my watercolouring has arrived at so far.  Nature has been at the heart of much of this journey - another great solace in turbulent times.  Over the next few posts, I'll aim to take you through some of my steps along the way.

As always, it's mainly so I have my own record here on my virtual scrapbook.  That anyone is here to join me for the ride is a wonderful and uplifting bonus.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you out there very soon.

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
Eleanora Duse

Monday, 13 February 2017

Masked Specimens

Hello all, I hope you had a lovely weekend. After all that (water)colour, we're headed into the neutral zone today.  It's only a sneak peek here at Words and Pictures, so I shan't keep you here long.

I'm over at the PaperArtsy blog this evening with some inspiration for this fortnight's Masking theme.

I've created a sort of three dimensional naturalist's journal, recording the details of various specimens of flora and fauna.

I hope you'll be able to hop over and find out what I used to do my masking (given that I avoid fussy-cutting masks if I possibly can!), and that you enjoy what you find there.

Study nature, not books.
Louis Agassiz, Geologist, Teacher and Naturalist, 1807-1873