Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

She's - gasp! - planning her next watercolor painting!

When it comes to painting, planning has not always been my strong suit. Far too often I was so eager to get to the good part - the color - that I didn't properly prepare and it shows in those paintings in the form of reworked and overworked areas, muddy color, too many colors that jumped all over the place and various other undesirables that left me less than thrilled with the result. I needed to put more time into preparation and think things through to avoid as many problems as possible.

So I've spent most of today planning a little 4 x 6 painting. You'd think something that small wouldn't take much time to plan. But it did. The same thing goes on in a 4 x 6 painting as an 8x10, 12 x 16, or whatever size. Regardless of size, there are underlying principles behind a good painting. Hence the planning session.

First off, I've found out - from messy experience - (remember the cherry shadow fiasco a few posts back?) that it's difficult - if not impossible - to glaze successfully over a hefty layer of cadmium red. Or any other cadmium color for that matter. Why? Because cadmiums are opaque and if you apply a heavy layer it's going to sit on the surface of the paper; then when you attempt to glaze another color over the cadmium it disturbs the color and you end up with splotchy mud instead of a smooth glaze. Trust me, I know.

So, determined not to let a little mud get the better of me, I selected the colors I thought I'd be using for my next painting (butterfly on a flower). Then I went to each of the manufacturer's websites, got the specs on their watercolor paints to verify the transparency or opacity of the colors. I'd read somewhere that you can mix several colors together and, as long as you're using all transparent colors, you'll keep bright, clear color - i.e. no mud. I wanted to see if that was true.

I now have a selection of colors, all transparent, all artist grade. My next quest was to find a beautiful orange. I already had a tube orange, but it was cad orange so it was a no-go. In the pics you can see the mini color charts I made while experimenting to find the colors I wanted. I have to tell you... this was absolutely fun! I oohed and aahed as beautiful, rich, clean oranges starting appearing before me. Yes! Free from the curse of the cads! ;-)

Some of you are probably thinking right now, "But I like cadmium red, yellow, orange, etc". So do I. But not when I've got multiple layers of glazing in mind. Which is why I spent the time on planning: my palette is selected, I've found several pleasing color combinations (some of them used four colors... and the resulting color did remain clean and vibrant), and have done the drawing and masking. All of this leaves me delightfully free to concentrate on the painting part. Oh, and I also stretched my paper for the first time to keep it from buckling.

You know, I think there's something to this planning stuff. I could get used to this :-)


Simone said...

Thank you for the info on cadmiums!!! Thanks also for highlighting the planning and preparation when it comes to painting. Very often I am a bit slapdash when it comes to painting and I think that some forward planning would really help me. Do we get to see the butterfly all painted up? x

Candy said...

This post is great. I definitely can use the tips on proper planning. Nice color charts - don't you just love the quinacridones? I even love the word "quinacridone". I'm looking forward to seeing the painting when it's finished.

knittingdragonflies said...

OOOO thanks for the tips. Planning?? what we are suppose to plan? I sketch the drawing out, but just dive in with the colors. OK, I think your onto something! *giggle* Next one I'll actually plan my colors before I start something.
Wow, colors, composition, everytime I paint something I learn something else!
I can't wait to see it!!!!
Now I'm going to look at your colors more closely

meera said...

Pretty impressive research and preliminary work!!! thanks for the info on cads :)

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I just made my first color chart recently, and it was so much fun! I hope you share the finished painting with us, as I think it's going to be a beauty. You've certainly done your homework beforehand!

Laure Ferlita said...

Hmmm, will wonders never cease?!! ;•P

Heads up on aureolin—it's an unstable color and best avoided no matter what the manufacturer said.

We await the masterpiece!!

padmaja said...

This is a lovely tip, and the beauty is you do the tough part,, the research and we get to know the secret so easily :-) Thanks for that!
I am sure your patient research will pay off through this small composition you are planning, look forward to it soon!

Pat said...

Colour charts - I have a few of those too!
Looking forward to seeing your butterfly on flower.. that will be a beautiful summer pic :)

Keith said...

Can I just compliment you on the neatness and order of your working space as well.

Liking your approach.

Ralph said...

I am in awe of you I could never ever sit so long planning anything. Then of course that is why your art is so much better than mine. Thanks for an amazing blog.

acornmoon said...

Fascinating to read all this, I do colour mixing in advance when I work with gouache. When I do a fabric design I have to mix 18 colours in little glass jars, it takes me a whole day. When I paint in water colour I just mix as I go.

Your petunias are lovely!

Dors said...

Hi Teresa.
Oh wow do you have patience.. Paying off too. I have stretched watercolor paper so many times with my work on roses. I so loved it but like you I got some mud...not that lovely opaque . I admire you for doing what you are doing right now.

Keep going Teresa... I am so interested and it is inspiring me so much to return to my love of watercolor.

Suzanne said...

Thank you for sharing!!!
I did not know about the cadmiums
I'm looking forward to the next

Jo Castillo said...

Wow, you are amazing. Thanks for doing all my homework! Ah, I am to impatient for watercolor. I love going along on your journey, though!

Krista Meister said...

Sometimes "playing" in the guise of "planning" is so much fun... or it gives us an excuse to play. Can't wait to see what you've got planned!

Jan said...

Jo said what I was thinking - that I'm too impatient for water color and that I need to thank you for doing the planning for me!

I'm sure this will be a beautiful painting! It can't miss with all that forethought!

Bruce Sherman said...

Hi Teresa!... Sure looks like "You" are doin' your homework and all those good things... in planning carefully for this butterfly painting!

Transparent watercolour can be tricky... and careful glazing in layers of colour over others can be both tedious and at times produces disappointing results.

One pitfall with this transparent medium is to over plan... and in so doing lose the wonderful spontaneous immediacy of a watercolour! Just a thought!

Looking forward to seeing your monarch's metamorphosis! The drawing looks great! Have fun!

Good Painting... and experimenting!Warmest regards,

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