Category Archives: Watercolour Painting
A creative streak comes naturally to me. It shows itself in my home decorating, in my bright colored and stylish clothing, shoes and purses, and all the creative avenues that I’ve partaken in – such as sewing, crocheting knitting macramé, embroidery, cross stitching, cooking and cookbook writing, video blogging and for a very long time, about a lifetime ago, Dollhouseminiatures. During that period of creating I won many ribbons for my miniature projects, mostly from scratch.
Does being creative give you the right to call yourself an artist? Suddenly I have that question in my mind.
Are you a creative, do you call yourself an artist?
Over the past 3 1/2 years, I turn the corner on my creativity. I can give credit to Jennifer. It all started when my daughter fell in love with the art of Romero Brito. Spontaneously, I took out my markers (because as a teacher with experience in primary school education, you always have markers. Teaching students a language requires the use of the philosophy that using art to draw concepts cements the vocabulary). I put together a drawing, trying to emulate his work. One month later, after returning from Sri Lanka, the vision of the palm trees on the beaches of the Indian Ocean were still in my brain. So one day without forethought, I sketched a palm tree. It was lame as it was, but it started the whole ball rolling.
A few months later I went to Italy. As a lone female traveler, I decided to go the safe route and take a six-day workshop with an artist in the north of Tuscany. When a friend Peter saw my Italy sketches, he beamed, asking me if I would draw sketches of the tea making process for his book about Tea in China. Was the Pope Catholic, I thought? I jumped at the opportunity. It gave me a focus for my art because at that point when I was flitting around with Zentangle Art and Mandalas and other topics with no real focus.
Peter designed my first Chinese Chop with the characters that said “LiZhi (my name Lichee in Chinese), Artist”.
Could I call myself an artist then? Well honestly no, I couldn’t, although I continue to use the stamp to this day.
Knowing that I didn’t have enough knowledge and experience about watercolor painting, I attended a weekly Kunming art studio for over a year and got a good grip on how to paint realistic art with watercolors. Learning to see the colors, color mixing, shading, shadows, I tried to learn everything. The owner of the studio offered to do a 2-day art exhibition of all of my paintings and sketches (35 in total) — and it was a huge success. Around that time a friend bought one of my favourite Chinese paintings also.
Could I call myself an artist after that? Crazy as it sounds, no, I knew I still had a lot to learn.
Getting back to teacher art and markers, my proclivity is to small, meticulous details with paper and fine liners and pencils and markers and ink and erasers and rulers in drawings (maybe I should have been an architect, and I do love perspective, which I’m not terribly good at until now). But I still wanted to continue to stretch my skill, watching YouTube and Craftsy videos of artists teaching painting or sketching techniques. Also attending sketching workshops in Florida helped to improve my experience. (Do you see the theme here of travel and art in my life??)
Quite recently I developed an interest in having a more loose style. I spent the morning painting with an artist named Dan Whalen, who goes out with the Toronto Urban Sketchers group, because I really like his freer style of sketching and painting. I knew that if I wanted to try to go out sketching on location again, I would have to have that kind of style too. Why, because you don’t have enough time to finish when you’re out, so you need to be quick, and expressive in your sketching, representing the scene in front of you, all before the rain comes or the sun gets too hot or the shadows move.
Just two weeks ago, I met a lovely Singaporean artist, Beng Choo. She is an experienced artist and we have started the Urban Sketchers Kunming group in Kunming China. We meet every Friday morning and have sketched some wonderful ancient Chinese buildings while dodging the rain and the hot sun.
Then binge watching Ian Fennelly videos has really motivated me. Will I go to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Hong Kong in April and take a class with Marc Taro Holmes because I’m a 1.5 hour flight away, or to Venice in May for 6 days and learn from Ian? I am considering it all. Because my art has moved away from a very detail-oriented style to towards a more expressive style.
In my quest to learn all I can, and with an art school within a 5-minute walk from my home, I just began a 10-week course, ‘Song Dynasty Chinese Painting on Silk’, which uses traditional Chinese black ink and painting techniques but with Kuretake watercolour paints. The process is very slow and detailed, with many steps so far. I have only learned how to paint the outlines on silk with ink and how to mount and stretch the silk onto a wooden frame. My teacher, Peng, says it takes 10 2-hour classes to complete, but that I am a fast learner!!!!
[Starting in 960 and ending in 1279, the Song Dynasty consisted of the Northern Song (960-1127) and the Southern Song (1127-1279). With a prosperous economy and radiant culture, this period was considered as another period of ‘golden age’ after the glorious Tang Dynasty (618 – 907).]
My first painting will be a copy of a Song Dynasty painting of crab apple flowers and my background is a soft beige colour, not this dark, boring colour.
Do I have the right to call myself an artist now? Have l earned that right yet? I guess the answer is I have to feel it in my heart, and my heart tells me that I am able to represent the feelings I have when I do art so much better than when I first embarked on my art journey a time ago. Stay tuned for more on the answer!
My goal for the past several months has been learning about watercolours. To continue achieving my goal, I completed this colour mixing chart this month to get to know my colours. It wasn’t quick – that’s because I have 30 colours.
Over the summer I had a great art fix with a new bunch of Daniel Smith watercolour paint tubes. I actually didn’t know where to begin choosing colours so I called on my watercolour Facebook friends for advice. I already had 6 tubes of DS that I had used in a Craftsty online class I took about watercolours and really loved the way they painted. I was eager to graduate to the artist quality paints from the Winsor & Newton Cotman paint set I had received from Kelly Medford’s class in Rome last year. This set was great to start and very easy to learn to use and carry around with. But after a year of using them, it was time to move on. At the end of the discussion I had a long list of ‘must have’ colours, whittled down to 24 more.
I found out that the colours you choose for your palette really depends on the type of painting you do. I haven’t stuck to one kind of painting (flowers, landscapes, still life) and am trying them all, so I just chose the colours that appeal to me the most. Since my new palette has room for more paints and moving them around, in the long run this choice is likely to change.
Studying how to mix paints to make attractive colours, I have found out that the 3 other paint mixing charts I’ve made have been so very helpful to use in my painting. Besides being helpful, the orderly esthetic of a finished chart appeals to my senses–somewhat like a work of art in and of itself!
Writing about the making a colour chart is my way of documenting it for myself for the future, and helping others to make their own colour charts!
You Will Need
- Sharp pencil & eraser
- Permanent marker
- Your watercolours, pans and tubes
- Your choice of paper
- Water container
- Paint brushes, one large (perhaps size 8) and one fine (perhaps size 2)
- Large white ceramic plate
- Small white ceramic plates
- Squeeze bottle (optional) to activate your paints for the pans
- Paper towel or cloth to wipe down your dishes.
Measuring Is the First Step
- I like to use a quilting ruler (but of course any ruler will do) because it’s got Metric and Imperial measurements, is see-through and has lines on the ruler, all helping with accurate measuring.
- I also like the Metric measures because when you have to use a calculator to divide the size of the paper by the amount of colours to get the size of the boxes that you paint in, you get an answer that’s in metric too.
- Jenny, in her blog post describes in great detail how to measure and draw out you chart, which is also the way I draw it out. Don’t forget to take your border measurement on all 4 sides into account.
- I also add a column to the far left and the top row to write the names of the colours.
Draw Out Your Chart
- Use a sharp pencil to measure how far apart the lines will be by ticking off the lines at the left side of the page and the right side. Then repeat with the top and bottom sides of the pages.
- Draw the first line by matching up the two ticks at either end, and using the ruler’s edge as a gauge to keep the lines straight. A see-through ruler is helpful to keeping the lines straight because you can match up the lines on the ruler to the edge of the paper or another line that is straight already.
- Write the names of the colours in the left column and at the top.
Put Your Paint in Order
Having grappled with the order of the paint colours before, the best way is to arrange your paints according to the ROYGBIV order. http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/ROYGBIV . Unfortunately I have a few out of order but it’s okay!
Call Me Crazy
On a whim, I decided that to be neat in my painting (because I knew it would be hard to paint in such small a squares without mixing the colours), I would mask out the space between each square to keep it between white.
It was fast because I used it directly from the bottle but definitely not in perfect lines. Oh well, art isn’t perfect! Using a fine brush to draw the lines, I thought, would take much more time.
I learned after a few lines that it was best to always keep the bottle held at a 45° angle. The angle keeps the air from flooding into the tip of the bottle and making a big blob when you put the tip to the paper. And have a paper towel or cloth nearby to wipe up the tip.
As it turns out it wasn’t so crazy as I didn’t have to focus on make the boxes so neat.
Painting Your Chart – Saving Paint and Time With My Process
I diverge from Jenny’s instructions here to save paint and time once the chart is graphed out.
1) In a small dish start with the first colour (horizontal or vertical doesn’t matter) and mix a juicy pure colour mixture with your large brush. Save time by using the paint straight from your tube (if you are making your own pans).
2) Around the outside of the large dish, deposit a small drop of the colour for each of the other colours (if you have 24 colours, you need 23 drops around the outside. If you have 18 colours, you need 17 drops, if you have 12 colours, you need 11 drops. Get the idea? Then paint the colour in the box over top of the name of that colour on the left side and at the top.
NOTE: if you paint the colours down the side and across the top, you don’t have to paint the mix of the same colour which makes a white diagonal line through the chart.
Paint swatch of the name of the colour in the left column and across the top.
3) Dip your small brush into the second colour right in your paint palette and load it half the consistency of water to paint as the first colour.
4) Add a same size drop of the second colour to one of the first colour drops on the big dish, mix together and paint in the right box on the paper. This will make a 1:2 ratio of first to second colour for every mix down the side of your paper. The swatches going down in the bottom half of your chart will have a 1:2 ratio and the swatches going across the top half of your chart will have a 2:1 ratio.
NOTE: If you wish to CHANGE the ratio, change the amount of colour you put on your brush. For example if you want 1:1, use the same size drop of the second colour as the first colour. Then you only need to mix the bottom half of the chart under the diagonal.
5) Clean off the dishes and brushes. For my chart this was the most tedious part of the project. Get clean water.
6) Repeat #2, #3, #4 and #5, painting the swatch of name of the colour in the left column and at the top. Then continue until you have all the colours mixed and painted.
Once the whole thing’s dry, erase the pencil lines and remove the masking fluid. Note the difference mixes down the diagonal and across the diagonal.
Take away for me:
I have a whole lot of beautiful colours.
Some are pure; some don’t mix well because they themselves are not pure. I got a lot of mud mixes with them.
Some are great for landscapes; some are ‘bubble gum’ colours.
Some are surprising like Buff Titanium, which is a beautiful colour on its own or mixed with other pigments.
Neutral Tint is anything but neutral – it’s a very strong back shade if you use too much.
All the purples are lovely. As are all the Quinacrodones.
*****Now to get painting more often!*****
P.S.> Your comments are greatly appreciated.