I have no idea historically where the idea came from that it is bad to combine white paint with watercolour. As far back as the early 1900’s, famous watercolourists were not at all shy to combine white gouache with their watercolour paintings. I think it is a modern, and in my opinion, misguided practice to teach people that using white paint is ‘cheating’. I get riled up when someone says that. By golly this is art, not brain surgery, and I say – if it works use it! What’s the alternative? You have this beautiful painting and one small area has become too dark. You’ve done all the lifting you can and it’s not going to work. It would be such a waste to throw it out. Why not get out the white paint and fix it? What do you think?
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I don’t invest in expensive palettes. I’m very happy with a piece of white cardboard that has been covered with wax paper. Two gobs of that sticky stuff that they use to hold posters onto the wall, placed on the back of the cardboard, holds the wax paper in place. The disadvantage is, you can’t judge the value (how light or dark a colour is) by pulling it out over the palette with your brush. It beads up. This is not an issue when using thicker acrylic paint or oils – only for watercolour or fluid acrylics. My workaround is to have a scrap piece of watercolour paper nearby to try the colour on before putting it onto the painting. When my palette gets too messed up to work with any longer, I simply peel off the wax paper, throw it out, and put a fresh piece on. With this method, I never have to wash a palette!
Here’s the link to another contemporary artist whose paintings I really love. Much of his work falls into the category that I would call ‘line and wash’ – wonderful free flowing colour and lines that skip about playfully. The thumbnails on the gallery page are small, so you will need to click on them to enlarge and appreciate his work. John Lovett’s website gallery (Find the link on my website blog, if you are reading this on facebook or elsewhere.)
I was pretty new into art. A trip to the Toronto zoo had resulted in a small pile of reference photographs. I had been working hard on a watercolour painting of an iguana. Green scales, beady eyes, muscular biceps – but for some illusive reason I just could not get it to be a painting that I liked. I changed shapes, and colours, and lines but still I was frustrated. I put it aside for a day, came back and pondered my painting technique – still no inspiration. Then the light went on! I simply don’t like iguanas. Lesson learned? Don’t be lazy about choosing your reference. Make sure you really like that photo if you are going to paint from it.
Here’s a link to one of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings – “Field with Cypress”… http://goo.gl/cswPn . Check out the “+” button to zoom in on the painting, and then move the box in the lower right corner to see different sections of the paintings enlarged. You can see the brush strokes! Marvelous. (Find the link on my website blog if you are reading this on Facebook or elsewhere.)
Last week I was blessed with a brief retreat to Brentwood on the Beach. It’s a lovely inn on Lake Huron. I spent most of my hours there walking the quiet beach. This time of year the beach is a surreal landscape of sand mixed with ice heaped up into mini frozen mountains. I took some photos and I’m thinking, so, if I paint a polar bear beside one of these ice formations, who’s to say it’s not a large iceberg? The blue shadows are there. The angles and shapes are there. It brought to mind large paintings I have seen that look like a cliff wall. Then later I would read that the artist held a pebble in their hands for inspiration. So here’s the creative challenge to painters experiencing our Canadian winter. Get out the camera and find out, is there an iceberg by the sidewalk?