Saturday, May 24, 2008
Experimental Background for Watercolor Portrait ~ Nick on YouTube
15" x 22 Watercolor on 200 lb paper, no medium
About now I imagine you're contemplating when my children will take my driver's license away and no, the garbage bag didn't rip over the kitchen table. Or you could call it "How to Create a Spontaneous Background". Blame it on the June 2008 issue of Watercolor Artist and the Creativity Workshop article by Wendy Hill. (Be sure and look at her example in the link). I have pondered her paintings in the example and had to try it yesterday. Here is my loose interpretation of the written instructions. (Hint: Start drinking tea in individual bags and SAVE before this project.) Gather your texture materials.
1. I drew on my image with a Pitt waterproof pen lightly. Wendy surveys the painting and allows an idea to develop by rotating the paper after the color is applied. You just do what you're comfortable with.
2. Wet the watercolor paper, with random sprays or sponge. Leave some dry areas of paper for the whites.
3. Selectively drip color and splatter freely or selectively.
4. The fun texture part - Add and apply, press into the wet paint, tea bags, coffee filters, leaves, plastic wrap, salt, sponge, Starbucks coffee covers have a great linear design, and experiment and then let us know any great texture material you find. I've been eying the pink Sweet and Low packets this morning but the tea bag is supposed to give a little stain to the paper.
More about the tea bags. This didn't work too well because I think Wendy drinks individual packets of tea and I had big old Texas sized family size and I'd been saving them up on the window sill for weeks (another cause for a friend and family alarm). For one they took forever to dry and second in the next step they were too thick for the paint to penetrate. I did have some good and expensive ginger peach tea in a little silk bag that I cut open (after brewing) and rinsed and I really liked this effect but this is a special occasion tea and I didn't have that many!
(Another aside, Starbucks sent a free Wednesday card for one free Pike Place Roast tall for the month of May and now I'm hooked on the best coffee I've ever tasted and I've saving the heat covers for that great linear design to press into acrylic and watercolor. I bought some of the arabica beans from their newest addition and my brewed cup still wasn't as good as theirs, then proceeded to purchase a new coffee pot and still not as good as their Pike Place cup in the drive thru and May is nearing the end of the month and my get in free card is expiring).
5. The step that didn't work with my big old dried thick tea bags. Add juicy color to the tea bags on the wet areas so the area under the bags stains and colors in interesting ways and will leave a surprising design element. I couldn't get enough juicy paint to come through all of those dried tea leaves (maybe if I'd moistened them first but next time I'll use the smaller size.) But what the heck, this is an experiment, right?
6. The really, really hard part. Let it dry and leave it alone. I kept peeking. Don't do that. The dried area should have some interesting patterns and shapes, maybe some partial lines from a tea bag string or label.
7. Paint as you normally would for your chosen subject. I added some more black line work and it looks like in Wendy's painting examples she does also (a lot really). At this stage in the directions Wendy searched for a potential composition and then drew and I just added darker lines and some outlining.
Now go boil some water and start your tea drinking and paint a creative background before July 3, 2008 and mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org to enter their challenge.
To see other work by Wendy Hill, click here.
Update on the Nicholas Simmons DVD I blogged about here:
Check out his painting style on YouTube.