Saturday, February 7, 2009

Watercolor Vocabulary

Before I pull out my paints, crayons and camera for some tutorials, we will talk a little about vocabulary. I basically do three types of watercolor. There are some other techniques I might do using the same or similar tools and we will talk about those in a later post.
We also need to talk about supplies. I am not a real stickler about having to have a certain brand....I have my favorites, but I think you can create with most any brand.

The first example is a little painting I did freehand this week to go with one of Inkadinkado's kids quotes about the reason we have erasers is because people make mistakes. I loved the quote, but try to find a stamp of an eraser....I am sure there are some, but if I do my own illustration, I can scan it, print it whatever size I want and use it over and over. Notice that I left room underneath for the quote. I stamped the quote in black, going on top of the pencil a little, embossed in clear and it makes a darling card. I would show you the card, but I am trying to get it published.

Now, I know you are probably thinking, "But I can't draw"....have you tried lately? Did you ride a bicycle the first time you got on one? It takes practice. Next month my husband and I are planning on going to the National Harbor in Maryland, just south of Washington DC. Two years ago, we stayed right beside the White House, so there was a lot to do....this time I plan on taking my sketch book and doing drawings. Get out a piece of paper and try some sketching. Anyway, you are lucky because there is such a thing as rubber stamps! I am not going to attempt to teach you painting freehand, but anyone can create beautiful watercolored images with the help of rubber stamps!
Let's look here at the two cards that are in Paper Creations a little closer. The pussy willow card was done with watercolor crayons. I like Faber Castell, but I also have Lyra (who also makes the SU! brand) and that Swiss brand I never can remember. You also need a fine mister for water and a paint brush (a real paint brush....not one of those you can put water into). I like to use Strathmore Watercolor paper 140 lb cold press (which means it has a little tooth or texture to press is smooth like cardstock or bristol board. Canson or other brands will do fine too. When I paint, I like to have two containers of to keep clean that you paint with and one to dirty up as you rinse your brush.

This is a simple technique as you apply the wc crayons directly to the rubber. You can change colors for different parts of the image, but on the pussy willow card, you basically use brown. I spritz the stamp with a fine mist of water and stamp it on my wc paper. Learning how much water to use is the whole trick. Not enough water and you won't get much of an image.....too much water and you will have a very loose, kind of faded out look, exactly what I used for my "Bliss" oval (keep might can use it!). So, lesson learned....use enough water but if you use too much, don't think it is ruined...let it dry and then see what you have. You can usually get 2-3 good impressions from each application of watercolor crayons....I just do several on a sheet of wc paper and then choose from them.

Another technique I used on the pussy willow that the magazine figured out (they did not figure out the crayons) was water embossing. If you saw this card in real life, you would see that the white blossoms are puffed, or they stick above the paper. Watercolor paper is made of cotton, so you can manipulate the fibers. By tracing the outline of the design with a stylus when it is sitting on fun foam or something flexible, you will see that outline on the back. Then you can use the stylus to push that paper out, so you have a 3 D effect. It is very cool for subjects like this one.

A couple of other things I did was spattering and adding shadows. Spatters vary according to if the wc paper is wet or dry (wet, the spatters become soft and muted...dry they are confined and hard), what you use to spatter with (I prefer a paint brush) and how close you are holding the brush to the paper. For shadows, I gray down blue by adding orange (it's complement on the color wheel) and usually paint with water first so the edges won't be hard. Figure out where your pretend light source is coming from (which direction) and paint the shadows consistent.
The dandelion was stamped probably with Versafine Sepia (I LOVE Versafine for watercolor and for embossing with clear EP). This is the third way I paint....just applying paint with a paint brush. I worked wet on wet. This means that I put water down first and then on the leaf, for instance, added green and yellow and let them become "friends". Where you put the water, the paint can go....if you don't put water, the paint can't go there. Such control, and people say they can't control watercolor!! Again, I did some shadows and spattering....I use those a lot! I did not spatter the erasers as I wanted a clean look, but I did do shadows.
Here is another example of working wet on wet, but you can see it better. For the blue background behind the dandelions, I put water down first and then blue paint. For the side band, you can see how the green and yellow mingled on the wet surface and became friends. The biggest problem most new watercolorists have is overworking the will become MUD, especially if you are working with complementary colors (red & green, yellow & purple, blue & orange....GO GATORS...oh, I digress!).

So, we have talked about supplies (wc paper, paints - these can be a simple as Crayola, a brush or two, one small one a little larger for bigger areas - sorry you don't have the control with an aqua painter you do have with a real brush, wc crayons, mister, water containers, stylus & foam if you are embossing and a paper towel or tissue). We talked about three approaches to doing watercolor (free hand, with crayons and with paints and a brush). We talked about techniques such as wet on wet, spattering, shadows. If you have crayons, you can use those as paint too...just scribble on a styrofoam plate or a palette of some type, and paint from that.

Well, I think that is enough to absorb for today...more later! By the way, these are all Serendipity Stamps.
Posted by Picasa


AmyS said...

Hi Holly,

I found your blog by way of your response to my post on StampTalk. You are very talented and cretive, and I enjoy your blog very much!

Norine said...

thanks so much you gave so much detail really appreciate the time you took to help us all

Suzanne said...

I am so glad I found your BLOG. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial...I can't wait to learn more about water coloring.

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO MUCH for the wonderfully clear information on watercoloring techniques. You made it so easy to understand; you're a great teacher and artist! I really appreciate your giving freely of your knowledge and talent. Please teach us some more.

Donya said...

Great tutorial Holly! I had to laugh, since I'd just been refreshing my watercoloring with some Twinkle H2Os this past week. It's so nice to dig out the fine art supplies from time to time. Oh, and those of yours cards- they are just beautiful!

Toni said...

Hey Holly you just added some techniques to my arsenal. Thanks for the tutorial