Friday, June 14, 2013

Comparing techniques

Earlier this spring I attended two workshops at the Georgia State Botanical Garden.  Both artists focus was on botanical watercolors, but the techniques of each artist were very different.  Kie masked the flowers and leaves and used many layers of poured watercolors to achieve a rich background first.   Margaret painted the flowers first then added a wet-on-wet background with or without masking the previously painted flowers.  

I thought it would be instructive to paint the same flowers, using these two techniques and compare the results.  I selected a photo of apple blossoms taken while I was at the John C. Campbell Folk School this past spring.  It is the perfect photo for this exercise because the flower cluster is in sharp focus, while the background is out of focus.  I printed out a large version of the photo and used that to trace the image on to two sheets of watercolor paper.

The painting on the right was done first following Margaret's steps.  The painting on the left was done second using the techniques Kie showed the class.  The color palettes are the same except I used Ultramarine Blue in the first painting and Cerulean Blue in the second.  I picked a different blue for the second painting attempting to more closely match the photograph.  Lemon Yellow and Permanent Alizarin Crimson are the other two pigments used in both paintings.  I also added some touches of Cadmium Yellow to the stamens and Burnt Siena to the branches.  


The central flower in the first painting is a focal point, and the other flowers around it fade into the background.  This is because the edge between the background and flower in the first painting is soft not hard.  The only hard edge in that painting is between the central flower and the flowers around it.  

In the second painting all the whole clump of flowers are the focal point, the central one doesn't stand out.  This because there is a hard edge between the clump of flowers and the background.  The hard edge was created by the masking, and can be seen in the photo on the left taken while removing the masking.  You can soften the edges, but I didn't try to in this exercise.

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