Friday, October 14, 2011

Golden Moment

"Golden Moment" Watercolor on 300lb Arches Cold Press

Oh my, it’s been so long since I posted last. Whatever have I been doing?

Well, I embarked on my study of watercolor. One needs paints. Which ones? That lead me to books on techniques that specialized in glazing, mixing, textures, and color theory for palette selection. 

Along the paint education path I found Hillary Page’s encyclopedic reference book, Guide to Watercolor Paints. I learned a great deal about pigments, light-fastness, why certain ones mix better than others according to their light refraction curve, paint names, and how paint handling varies by manufacturer. Wow. I love this stuff. I sadly dumped some Holbein favorites that were not light-fast, others that were opaque, and ordered some Winsor Newton and Daniel Smith paints to go with the remaining Holbein favorites.

I spent months mixing colors and creating charts to explore and document proportions between 2 mixed colors. In every chart was a surprising discovery. I could be a professional chart maker. (LOL)
Finally in June I felt ready to try putting the elements together into a painting. The first one worked out well enough, but I won’t publish it here, because it was soon eclipsed.

The second pass was with a very flawed photo of Alocasia leaves as seen in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Fortunately I had a good memory and my trusty Photoshop to help me find my way back to inspiration.

I used wet in wet to mingle complimentary colors into browns. I carved in veins while wet. I masked to save hard edges. I mixed and glazed and painted wet on dry. Finally, I used Pitt Pen to build in texture and contrast in passages.

**I have since darkened that pale stripe up the center leaf...but have not re-photographed because it is now framed.

The knowledge gem that this piece delivered was about the additive property of colors in glazing.

The background was giving me fits. Having removed it twice, this final pass produced results I could accept.

I began with a rich coat of Hooker green (which is PG7 and PY150-Nickel Azo). It was grass ‘green’ so I glazed it with a coat of Holbein Peacock Blue (PB15-Phthalo blue + PG7) which I had used in the large leaf already. I did not get blue green. I got a richer Hooker green. Why? The extra layer of PG7 and the fact that PB15 and PY150 make green, I had nothing BUT green on the paper! Note to self.

I wanted it to be earthier and much darker, so I mixed Hooker green with Quinacridone Burnt Orange (also already in the painting) until it was a perfectly balanced coffee brown. What I got was a rich forest green now with a granulated brown texture. Hooker does have a slight granulating tendency, but it doesn’t always show up. Another batch of rich coffee-colored glaze, and I had finally found the value and texture I had been seeking. Lucky me!


  1. I really like your watercolor painting. I can't believe that you are relatively new to the medium. You're doing great.
    I too love Hillary Page's book. It contains a wealth of information and I found myself 'needing' to buy every paint that she said was one of her favorites.