Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Loose Watercolor Painting

Abstract Coneflowers
3" x 5" bound watercolor journal
The painting above is another one of my paintings in my a watercolor journal.  Watercolor journals are a great way to be portable when painting or to just work on a small painting without the usual setup.   The paper in this journal is handmade paper and paints quite differently than my usual Arches watercolor paper.    This painting was done plein air on my deck overlooking  my flower garden.
This abstraction was executed to show the use of “loose” watercolor painting.  Loose painting can be difficult for many painters because they basically turn control of the painting over to the water.  However, the artist does still have some control… just has to remember how water works! 
Before we start painting, I wanted to provide a few tips to waiting “loose.”
  • Prepare a simple sketch.  Draw good shapes with no detail.
  • Paint from large to small areas of the painting.
  • Determine where a hard edge may need to be, if any, and where your soft edges can be found.
  • Paint quickly.
  • Don’t overwork the painting.  Put the paint down and then stop. 
  • A large brush is usually better.
  • Use fewer colors.
  • Use a spray bottle to keep the paint flowing.
  • Pick up your paper to aid in paint movement.
  • Don’t worry about messing up – it’s only paper.
  • All paintings do not have to be perfect – have fun.
  • Interpret what you see….don’t expect a photograph.
  • Let the painting happen – let the water, the paint and the brush do the work.
  • Paint the same subject numerous times – make a series.  You will get better with each painting.
  • Paint and have fun…..remember, it is ONLY paper!

Supplies Needed:
Watercolor paper or watercolor journal – your choice of size. 
Masking Tape
Watercolor board
Brushes:  flat and round (large brushes work better for loose paintings)
Yellow ocher
Sap Green
Ultramarine Blue
Medium Yellow
Burnt Umber
Payne’s Gray
Painting Instructions:
I used masking tape around the outside edges of my journal to make a straight edge.  However, masking tape is not necessary in a journal.  Taping watercolor paper to a board is necessary if you are not using a journal to keep the painting flat. 
Lightly sketch in the shape of the flowers.  It is not necessary to sketch in the shape of the stems or leaves.    
Wet the sky area of the painting – approximately ¼ of the way down the piece of paper.  Using a wash of Ultramarine Blue, drop in your sky allowing the lighter shade of blue to flow into the area of your flowers.  Allow to dry.
Using Crimson, paint  the flower petals. While still wet, deepen area of the petals with a bit of Ultramarine blue.    Allow the paint to flow and the colors to mingle.    Drop in a shade of orange mixed from Crimson and yellow into the center of the flowers.  At the very center of the larger flower, drop in some Sap Green and Payne’s Gray.  Allow the colors to mix.  When dry, add a few dots of orange/crimson for the very center. 
Stems and Leaves:
Using a round brush and various shades of green made from Sap Green and Yellow for the lighter shades and Sap Green and Ultramarine for the deeper shades of green.  Paint the stems and leaves.  While still wet, drag in some Payne’s Gray and Burnt Umber along one side of the stems. 
Sign your painting!  Congratulations!
Is loose painting for you?  It is not for everyone, but it can be enjoyable and some beautiful paintings can be created.  Be patient and keep trying!

Happy Painting!

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