Friday, June 24, 2011

Photos from the past

I love to travel, and have been taking photos of places I have traveled to for years.  I have saved the better photos assuming someday I would use them create a drawing or painting.  So when Marilynn said we should bring a few photos to work from to the workshop, I dove into the stacks.  I pulled out a few from a fall trip to New Hampshire many years ago.  I had taken several photos on that trip of the bold fall leaf colors.  The two that I selected to work with were good examples of those colors as well as their reflections on the water.  I composed the two paintings to be viewed in the journal side by side, rather then as individual paintings.

Having photos to refer back to if you can not return to the place (and maybe even the moment) can be very useful.  They provide a good reference for shadows and placement of objects.  Depending on the type of film and exposure they can also provide a reasonable color reference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The first journal entry

Let me back up to the first journal entry.  It was a radish.  Plants are nice subjects, they come in a variety of colors, they have interesting shapes, and best of all they stay where you put them.  Radishes have a nice complement of colors and shapes that can produce a pleasing painting.  I wrapped the title and some text around the radish.  Part of journaling is writing, which means thinking about what to write and where to write it so that it fits the page and does not look like an after thought.

Starting with a cooperative subject let me focus on using my new Koi watercolor kit and water brush.  I was pleased with the color palette and how the colors blend and layer.  I love using the water brush.  The body is hollow, and designed to hold a small amount of water.  By gently squeezing water flows out through the flexible brush tip.  This gives you a lot of control over the amount of water you are adding to the paper.  It also makes it easy to clean the brush between color selections.  I have two small 2 oz plastic bottles of water that are part of my travel kit.  One has a spray cap for wetting the palette and paper, the other has a dropper top and I use this one to fill the water brush as needed.  I use a lot less water when I use the water brush then I do when I use regular brushes.

I was also using a new Strathmore 140 lb watercolor journal.  It has a wire ring binding and can lay completely flat or be folded open.  This makes it easy to hold in one hand or prop on the watercolor kit.  The paper stands up to water well and retains its shape after being wet.  I have been able to paint on both sides of the paper without any issues.  The texture is not too rough, which makes it easier to sketch with a pencil or ink pen.  It holds the ink and paint well and will stand up to a bit of scrubbing with the brush or eraser.  The 5.5 by 8 inch journal fits perfectly in my waist pack (along with the watercolor kit, water bottles, kleenex, pencil, crayon, pen, ruler and eraser).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Re-learning to Journal

Alongside the color blending chart is one of the exercises from a class in Watercolor Journaling I took at the Spruill Art Center in Atlanta from Marilynn Brandenburger.  It is one of two journal entries done during the class that were inspired by the art exhibited at the center.   Part of the class included how to manage all the items you need when you are not in your studio, do not have a table to work on and can't go get what you forgot.

For this exercise we were given 45 minutes to create one or two journal entries.  Because this was the first exercise away from the studio, besides our pocket watercolor kits, we were allowed to take a chair to sit on.

The larger than life set of tan ceramic pears captured my interest.  They were artfully arranged, and their shapes captured highlights and shadow nicely.  I spent most of the allowed time working on this painting.  The arrangement of pears created a triangle on the lower right side of the paper.  To balance that I added a double line border and the title of the art work in the upper left corner.

I was walking back to class when a painting caught my eye.  The shapes of individual shells jumped out at me.  The more I looked at it the more shells I could see in the graphical design of the painting.  I quickly sketched two of the graphic interpretations of lines and patterns in the drawing, while balancing the watercolor kit and journal in one hand.   I also added a few notes, and a dab or two of color to help me remember what shades went where.

The two shells stand out as individual items on the page, which is not surprising since I was not actually composing a painting, but had just wanted to capture these interesting images.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The process begins

Getting to know the palette in the Koi watercolor pocket set.  Finding the right shade of green always seems to be a problem.  The shades always are either too blue or too yellow.  And each set of paints includes different color mixes.  Having a set of color blends gives me a reference to refer back to.