Cheerful and Colorful Paintings

Cheerful and Colorful Paintings in Oil, Acrylic, Mixed Media and Collage

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 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.


Myrna Wacknov said...

Nancy, I think you are on to something here. I like the effect and it looks like lots of fun. Keep experimenting and inventing other things to add to the process. I saved this article out of the magazine to try myself. Can't wait to give it a go. I think I need to go drink some tea!

Nancy Standlee said...

Hi, Myrna
Thanks for stopping by and I knew you'd be up for experimenting and I hope the cat hides under the couch when you get in operation. I really liked your Willie sketch on the plane and thanks for your travel supply demo but you completely forgot to put the names of your colors in the caps..many will want to know. I think I have it in my notes.

Peggi Habets Studio said...

How fun! Looks like you had a good time painting, and came up with a great painting.

Nancy Standlee said...

Peggi, it is fun and hard not to peek under the textures while they are drying. Several of my friends are saving tea bags as we speak.

Unknown said...

This is a great piece of art. I wanted to try it myself to give a twist to my other background projects. You might also want to check my site where I use the one I made as a background to my site.

Nancy Standlee said...

Thanks, Belle for leaving a comment.

Unknown said...

What an imaginative and creative mind you have! Talking about arts is one of the things I am really fascinated at. Thanks for this post.I also want to share with you a site I have discovered which offers small, free background tiles with ten new ones every week. See here

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Linda G. Hatton said...

This looks great! I have some dried out tea bags ready for me to paint on. I love how your piece turned out. Beautiful.

Nancy Standlee said...

Thanks Linda this was so long ago I've nearly forgotten about it..good luck with your experiment.