Wednesday, 24 September 2014

White Swan

Browsing through my resource folders, I came across this beautiful picture of a white swan. Although the subject seemed daunting, I could not resist having a go and putting all I had learned about the versatility of white Acrylic Gouache into practice!

I started on Hahnemuhle Matt there was going to be lots of wet paint on the paper and I did not want it to buckle and have the paint run into the depressions and dry darker than the rest of the image. I did a fairly careful drawing of the head as this is the most important part. and gave myself just a brief outline of the whole body shape.

I was aware at this point that the beak and eye would be right in the centre of the painting, but was not sure how to get over this,so I at least made sure that it was  in the top third of the painting.

I painted the head, neck and beak in a quite figurative way and let it dry completely. I then added the background colours by wetting the paper and dropping in various pigments,including Indigo, Cobalt Blue and Quinachridone Magenta, allowing them to bleed freely into each other. I kept the top corners darker than the rest of the background, and kept it lighter around the feathers so that the white gouache did not have too much work to do covering dark areas.

I then simply built up passages of mostly yellow ochre for the underpainting and white acrylic gouache for the feather highlights. There was some Paynes Grey, Magenta and Indigo. The initial white areas had plenty of water as well as paint as this enables the gouache to be blended into the background, but it was obviously used neat to do the top feathers and the water droplets.

Before adding the final splashes, I darkened the areas around some parts of the bird to make the white areas stand out.

A very satisfying final splatter of white gouache and the painting was finished. It is not quite as vibrant as the original photo, but I think it does reflect my personal style of painting and I am very pleased with the result. I must do a few more animal paintings in the future!!

                                            'Swan'    26cm x 36cm watercolour inc. gouache

Friday, 12 September 2014

Elderberries : Limited Palette

We are back to the formal programme of subjects at AVA, which means no weekly hiding in subjects within our comfort zones. It was, however, a gentle beginning for us all as the only criteria was the use of a limited palette. This was described simply as two tubes, pans or sticks of  'paint'.

What was interesting about this subject was the need to begin with a subject that could be well described using only the two pigments, and then to explore the palette to try top find two pigments that could give you the greatest range of possibilities.

The first consideration was resolved, thanks to a neighbours  beautiful Sambuca Nigra bush on the border of our two gardens. The leaves and berries are not dissimilar to each other in colour and they lent themselves to a bit of artistic licence.

Having settled on the source material, I then had a good look at the possible pigments. I needed a rich burgandy for the berries and something which when mixed with the red gave me some lovely darks as well. In the end, after a bit of trial and error I selected Quinachridone Magenta and Pthalo Green.

I chose a sheet of 450g paper as I knew there would be plenty of water with the initial wash, and I have been having problems with buckling recently.The paper is  Cornwall Matt by Hahnemuhle which is becomming one of my favourite papers at the moment.

I sprayed the paper with plenty of water, using the spray can give nice textures when the paint is dropped in, as you can see with the green in the top LH corner.
I dropped in paint selectively but at random into the water and tried to create a few darks in the middle. When the wash was dry, I was a bit disappointed that there was not too much pure magenta left, but the paper is too expensive to waste, so I had to carry on. Whilst it was still wet, I used a straw to blow a few random twiggy shapes out of the base of the painting. I find this helps to keep the work a bit loose.

When the wash was dry, I simply painted in the berries and twigs and identified the leaves by using their negative shapes. As I could only use two tubes of paint, I could not get back the highlights in the berries which was a bit of a problem. In hindsight, I should have put tiny drops of masking fluid on the paper before doing the wash and this would have given me some hightlights. I tried to leave paler patches where possible and deliberately painted berries in the white paper patches to give really fresh colour and bright white highlights.I also added a little white acrylic gouache to some of the berries on returning home!

Because I did no drawing, I did not get quite right the way the stems grow from the main branches, so it cannot be described as a botanical painting, but I am quite pleased with the result. It does show what a lovely range of lights through to very darks that you can get with just two tubes of paint!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Sorrel and Honesty

Along the same back lane where I picked the blackberries for the previous post, there has been lots of sorrel in the hedgerow. When the sun shone it was the most glorious colour and I could not resist clipping a couple of pieces to bring back into the studio.

I also had some new sprigs of honesty, so decided to combine the two, as this would enable me to use lots of my favourite colours.

                                                                  Sorrel And Honesty
                                                      Fabriano Artistico 300g Rough paper

The paints include Indigo, Teal Blue, Paynes Grey, Quinachridone Rust, Transluscent Orange and Yellow Ochre. I also used white Acrylic Gouacheon the honesty and for the splatter.