Today’s watercolor experiment:

Based on my variegated-wash warmup today, I decided to try one on a larger scale. I also experimented with different pigments.

I used cerulean blue (from Daniel Smith) as the first wash. After opening the new tube of this pigment, I was confronted with a honey-like discharge, with very little pigment. I close the tube back up and squeezed it several times to try mixing the color in the tube. I guess the binder separated from the pigment. I had a lot more pigment in my little dish than I had planned for, but even so, the color was very light when I applied it to the paper.

My second color was lemon yellow, which I painted on the right-hand side of the wet paper. I chose carmine red for the third color of my trio, which I added to the left portion of the composition.

Before the wet paper dried, I used the ‘gray’ color I produced from cobalt blue and cadmium red light, to draw a horizontal streak across the composition about one third of the way up from the bottom. I let the paper dry.

I rewet the paper. I added more of the gray concoction above the gray line and used a paper towel to remove some of the cerulean blue. After this dried I added a wash of carmine at the bottom with a dry brush technique. One can see the lemon yellow layer underneath the carmine red.

Watercolor: Abstract Variegated Wash That Resembles a Landscape

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Although this composition is abstract, it does remind me of a landscape. In fact I attempted to portray clouds in the background, a horizon and possibly a body of water in the foreground.  For a less abstract landscape I must do more planning.

Lesson 4

Today’s warmup exercise:

Working with the same colors and previous warmup exercises (Scales, Limber Session), namely yellow ochre, cadmium red light, cobalt blue and the gray resulting from mixing the red and the blue. I tried variegated (meaning,  ‘a variety of colors) washes today. The lesson I followed in the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend, directed me to lay down variegated washes first using dry brush and then with the wet-in-wet technique.

Watercolor: Chart of Drybrush and Wet-in-Wet Varigated Washes

Varigated Washes

The panels on the left side of the paper are dry brush washes, leaving white space, as directed; the right-hand set of panels are examples of wet-in-wet washes of the same pigments.

This technique will require some practice to get the correct water-to-pigment ratio for each color, in order to determine (at least approximately) the amount of mixing on paper. One can see on the dry brush side of the chart that colors did not mix together that well. The wet-in-wet panels show better mixing, but even here I would benefit from further study.

Lesson 3

Today’s warmup exercise:

Graded washes have a real application in watercolors. Today I practiced with the ‘gray’ mixture I concocted in my first (published) warmup exercise (Scales).  Instead of gray, it is purplish.

After I painted the first graded wash (that deposits more pigment at the top of the picture) in the small sections of my chart, I let them dry. Then I began another wash partway down the paper, again laying down more pigment along the first brush stroke. My lesson book, the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend suggested that the second wash should be a silhouette of a mountain range. I repeated the process with another ‘mountain range’ in the foreground.

Watercolor: Successive Application of Graded Washes

Lesson 3 – Application of Graded Washes

In the top right panel, before applying the second mountain range, I dripped a bit of water and  blotted it up, taking away some pigment in the process. This led to the perception of clouds in the valley.

Applied Washes

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I started today’s experiment with an idea to execute a circular watercolor wash. However, I could not control both the curvature and the flow of pigment from the brush, at the same time. The initial brush stroke was resulting from a relatively dry brush.

I executed several disconnected curves with ultramarine blue pigment. Using these outer curves as a starting point for the graded washes, leaving an oval-shaped opening at the center and a wedge-shaped opening on the left side of the figure.

Outside the blue areas, I continued the curve motif with cadmium orange.

I mixed a wash of lemon yellow wash and washed the entire paper. After drying I used cadmium red light in thin brushstrokes along the edge of the orange in a few places.

Watercolor: Abstract - Application of Graded Washes in Blue and Orange

Untitled – Abstract 112315
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I used mars black to outline the orange wedge and emphasize the outer edges of the blue washes.

Limber Session

Today’s watercolor warmup:

Today, washes were on the agenda as per the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend. The lessons in this book are supposed to lead the reader/practicer to learn techniques of the masters.  I am very much looking forward to that.

Here is my chart of washes:

Watercolor Practice - Washes and Mixing

Chart of Washes

In the upper left panel is my flat wash, done with cobalt blue. I used a number 6 brush. The area of this cell of the chart is no larger than 6″x8″. I could have used a much larger brush for a more seamless wash.  The panel on the lower right is where I painted the graded wash. Again, I began with a brush loaded with cobalt blue. With each successive pass, instead of recharging the brush with paint, I dipped it in water. I need more practice with this.

In the upper right panel, I tested what happens when a field of cobalt blue meets one of cadmium red light. The degree of mingling depends on the pigment/water ratio.  I dripped a few drops of cadmium red light into a wet cobalt blue field.

What I need to do now is see how other pigments behave when used as washes.



Today’s watercolor experiment:

I began with a dry brush stroke of indanthrone blue with a stiff-bristle brush. I zigged and zagged.

Graded washes were on my mind from my warm-up activities (see Limber Session, also from today). I used cadmium orange to fill in the space between the upper zigs, a darker orange at the periphery; for the lower zigs I used my cadmium red light wash.

Watercolor : Abstract Expressionist Symbol

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

The resulting form reminded me of a light bulb, so I proceeded to mix indanthrone with cadmium orange to make a neutral color to darken the space outside the bulb space. I left room for yellow rays of light, which I painted after the dark mixture dried.

A light bulb is an iconic symbol for an idea. I am happy that all my efforts toward creating today’s image resulted in an idea.


Todays other watercolor experiment:

After my watercolor warmup today, see Scales post, I wanted to do something creative.  I used a stiff-bristle brush to paint a quick, angular, dry brush stroke that I usually use to represent an eyebrow and nose of a face. I used Hooker’s green.  As I had some cobalt blue at my disposal, I used a bit of it for a cheek bone and some yellow ochre (also handy), to paint one of the eyes.

I have a flesh tone formulation (titanium white, yellow ochre and cadmium red light) that I used for a smooth stroke of another eyebrow and nose. I used a thin brush to dip into my cadmium red light mixture and paint along the edge of the flesh-tone stroke.

I mixed a wash of indanthrone blue (a dark color). I used this to wash around the outside of the already-painted face parts, leaving white space for another eye and a horizontal line for a common mouth.

After all was dry, I painted lemon yellow into the white space.

Here is my ‘Faces’ composition:

Watercolor: Masks on Dark Blue Background

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


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