Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Whenever I'm off on a painting trip, I gather books, pamphlets, newspapers, tickets, etc. Mostly, these questionable "treasures" stay in a folder. With this technique, however, all those bits and oddments have a purpose and a place to be.

The surface is drawn upon, collaged with various papers, painted with watercolors, gessoed, re-drawn upon, re-collaged with papers relating to the subject, painted with gouache and again with watercolors, over and over again until the image is pleasing to the artist.

The upper image is of Bibury, Cotswolds, England. It was the home of wool weavers long ago and is rumored to be the most photographed spot in England. I love the way the houses hug the hill, each reflecting the lovely golden Cotswold stone. The lower 2/3rds is composed of all the aforementioned gatherings from my trip. There are doilies, photographs, words from newspapers, written  words and fascinating words from signage.

Signs at Restaurants:
Fish & Chips
Mushy Peas
Bread & Butter
And a Pot of Tea
OAP Special (Old Age Pensioner)
On the Roadside:
Well-Rotted Manure
The Brits are mad for gardening!

A Prayer Found in Tewesbury Abbey
Prayers for the Departed:
Show Us, Good Lord
The peace we should seek,
The peace we must give,
The peace we can keep,
The peace we must forgo,
And the peace you have given us in Jesus Our Lord. Amen 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Adding Ink to Watercolor

I have been doing a version of ink and watercolor at least since high school. In 2001, I began to use it more frequently and made a habit of taking small handmade watercolor paper with me on travel workshops using a roller ball pen with water-soluble ink. I liked the way the ink moved and ran as I worked, creating passages within the piece. That led to a chapter in "Work Small, Learn Big," a book on sketching in pen and watercolor published by International Artist Magazine in 2003.

Subsequently, I wanted to work in a larger format, but the small pens were not appropriate for that. I finally found a watersoluble ink brush with a cartridge in the Daniel Smith catalog...a brush pen used for sumei. It took awhile to get the courage to spend over $60 for the Kaimei brush pen, but when I did and used it for the first time, I was hooked. Finding the brush pens is now easy...D. Smith still carries them and typing "oriental brush pen" in a search engine leads to many more sources.

Recently I found a brush pen with sepia ink and I like the warmer tones of the brown ink. Here is one of the most recent, a painting of the southwest quadrant in Old Towne Orange's Plaza Square. In this case the under-painting in blue was done before I went out to paint. I find that I like the results better if the under-painting is done with no thought of the subject matter to be superimposed on top. When I begin to draw, I watch the placement of the shapes to make best use of the lighter areas and draw directly in ink. My brush pen basically goes for a dance across the page and my drawings are more fluid with this technique. Watercolor is applied when the line drawing is complete and if done immediately the ink blends with the watercolor. If you wait a number of days, the ink is set and washes can be applied across the line with no bleeding. You lose the variation in edge quality however.

The addition of ink to watercolor is especially helpful when working in a sketch book with limited time. If you have a good line drawing, you can add minimal watercolor paint to have a good representation of the scene. And by holding back a bit on the brush pen, the line can be less powerful in a smaller format.