Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Stamped Start--Another Workshop Piece

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This may look like quite a mess, but in Mary Ann Beckwith,s workshop we learned a method of taking this start to an abstract finish. 

Step one was to stamp and texture the piece with everything from rolling paint over a garlic bag to laying down a string of beads and spraying over it. There is no right or wrong to this step. This needs to be completely dry before working on it.

Step two is choosing an abstract design. I used a method also taught by Mary Ann which involved cutting a small window (2" x 3" inch or so) out of white paper. Next we looked for a piece of interest from a magazine, or a combination of several pieces to create a small abstract to inspire the large painting. By placing clear tape over the whole piece, the combined design holds together. (Most of this small design was from an ad for a power tool.)

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The next step is to paint over the stamped piece of watercolor paper following the design created in the little window.  Surprisingly, the underpainting shows through. This process also takes the patience of letting the first layers dry and painting over the new design 2 or 3 times. Each layer adds depth and richness. And, yes, the stamping keeps coming through.

The final step is the most fun for a painter like me--adding the caligraphic marks, stamping on the top of the piece, and other mark making. See the finished painting below. I've titled it "Elephant Trunks," can you see why?

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Elephant Trunks, aquamedia
30 x 22 inches

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Finishing is 90% of the Painting Process

I've just returned home from the Watercolor Society of Oregon Convention which happened last weekend, followed by the WSO workshop which was this past week. Our instructor Mary Ann Beckwith made the statement that 10% of the effort put into a painting was the beginning and 90% was (or should be) put into the finishing. This was just one of the many instructive comments our instructor made during this workshop that I stored away. Mary Ann generously shared these incredibly vivid liquid watercolors she uses, which provided the wonderful colors in the kites. I had a lot of fun coming up with the concept of this piece, using kite shapes and tape to save areas of color and spraying over the top with a white paint to create the background. You can see that the white paint was just a film, letting the original color come through, making the background more interesting. Nice isn't it? However this is only the 10%.

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Another workshop participant and talented artist, Linda Rothchild-Ollis, looked at the piece and said, "let's take it to the next level." Mary Ann Beckwith uses more neutral layers over a piece like this to icrease focus and interest, and Linda offered to help me use Photoshop to do the same with this piece. The following morning, Linda took the picture you see above and loaded it on to her laptop. We could then play with the added layering ideas and also add some more line work. Below is the computer version.

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Linda next emailed me the photos which I opened with my ipad. I then could use this Photoshopped image to work on the acutal piece. I felt like some computer genius with my ipad helping me develop this piece to completion. In reality, my friend Linda did all the computer work, but I am inspired now to learn how to use Photoshop to edit paintings like this.

As you can see, the 90% of finishing started with Linda encouraging me to add the layers. I did indeed spend quite a bit of time finishing this painting after first envisioning it with the help of the computer. If you scroll up to the beginning and compare it to the finished piece below, I think you will see the difference between just a nice painting amd a really interesting and more evocative piece. At least that's how I feel about it.

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Windy Day, 20 x 26
Watercolor on Yupo