Watercolour: negative painting

Yesterday I came across this post from Sunnyfae about negative painting, a (watercolour) technique that requires to paint all around a given shape, therefore leaving the lightest areas of the canvas free. Here is one of her drawings:

I absolutely love the technique, so I looked up for Linda Kemp, the artist she mentions in her post. I found several videos on YouTube, and this one sounded great for my beginning with this new technique. Linda explains how to approach the painting in a mid-way between completely free and completely planned – by deciding the subject, colours and overall shapes before starting. The painting process will then be focused, while remaining free on local decisions (brush strokes and colour density). I like that approach and it suits me in this moment. You can browse other videos and find the one that speaks to you and invites you to try painting!

Thank you Sunnyfae for your inspiration, and do keep us posted with your progress and discoveries 🙂

Watercolour painting: red fox

A couple weeks ago I saw a picture of a fox that invited me to make a watercolour painting. Today I stumbled upon this watercolour lesson from Laurie Wigham on John Muir Law’s blog and, after browsing the lesson’s slides, I grabbed my watercolour set, a largish pencil, my sketchbook and the watercolour pencils I have never used before, and started painting.

This is the outcome:

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I enjoyed experimenting with watercolour. I was initially worried of doing mistakes that I could not correct, but instead felt a lightness in filling large areas so fast, with a light touch of the brush, and see how I could move paint around thanks to water. I added pencil details after the paint had dried a bit, so in some areas the wet paint diluted the pencil and made very rich colours.

I’m happy with the right side of the drawing, I consider the colors right and the pencil addition quite balanced; the left side was too lightly painted and I used a lot of pencil, a bit too much. The proportions of dark and light areas on the left side are also not so similar to the picture, maybe because I started painting when I had observed the picture too quickly (especially that part).

Overall I am satisfied with this painting, it gives me a positive sensation and it motivates me to try again! I liked the speed of the paint part and the combination with pencil. The video and slides give a lot more information and techniques, so I’ll consult them in the future to pick new tips and improve. I hope I inspired you to grab a pencil and try this yourself! I’d love to hear your feedback on the post and hopefully see your own paintings 🙂

Watercolour experiments

Today I wanted to test some exercises suggested by “The magic of drawing”, and I’m quite happy of the result:

 

The process was free, the shapes came out from a first random brush stroke, that suggested the subject of the small painting; a linear stroke invited more linear strokes to represent tall grass or slender trees, while curved strokes reminded me of oak trees, like the green one.

My first steps of watercolour are about learning to control the brush, so they are not anything close to reality; nevertheless, I had much fun just practising these basics.They reminded me the free canvas use by children, who are additionally learning to control their hand. It was for me a happy jump in the past, in the times where I could draw and paint without thinking about the time or the use of paper.

I hope this encourages you to try too: you only need paper (any kind is OK for the start, it only has to be a bit thick, otherwise it bends with water) and a watercolour set! Hint: shopping for these supplies is a feast on its own 🙂

Painting, how to start something new

Last week at the supermarket I saw a 18-set of acrylic paints and bought it at once – but I didn’t open them right after coming home. I wanted to find a good subject, read a bit about painting techniques, find the right paper/cardboard. A week passed and I realised I would never start painting, if I waited to make something great at the first try! So I just opened a few colour tubes and doodled on a piece of paper, with a broad pencil:

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I felt happy with the result, because I tried various ways to hold the brush, various densities of paint (with more or less water), I mixed the colours, overlayed some of them. I think that setting small goals for a first experiment is more rewarding that starting with a proper subject, that has high chances to turn out ugly 🙂

I hope this helps you in starting with the art/hobby that you like so much, but feel intimidated – “what if I try and I don’t like what I can do?”. Starting with a test of tools and techniques, or just some free doodling, is a good way to break the “white canvas fear” and give you courage to practice further.

Happy art everyone!

Sara, Abraham and Hagar – two paintings from Matthias Stom

I have been visiting Gemäldegalerie for the exhibition “El siglo de oro” and I have been very moved by a painting from Matthias Stom, a Dutch golden age painter.

“Sarah showing in Hagar to Abraham” (source: Wikimedia):

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“Sarah leading Hagar to Abraham” (source: Wikimedia):

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At the museum I found the second version of the painting. I felt as I were in the room, in the silence of the scene.

The first painting, that I later found on Wikimedia, shows a more lively scene, where Sarah is at the side, the center of the scene is taken by the young body of Hagar, her bright red cloth, and Abraham raises from his bed, can’t wait to have her near him, takes the red cloth with a strong grasp. There are many symbols in the scene that I haven’t decoded, but the overall impression to me is that it is a classical rendition of this biblical extract.

The second painting is very different in the sentiments. Hagar is now on the side of the scene, she looks a bit scared and unsure. Sarah is next to her and offers Hagar’s arm to Abraham, with a quite official pose. Her look is directed neither to his husband nor to Hagar, it is lost in the air in front of her. She has a half-smile on her face, I can’t say why. Abraham, that I noticed first in this painting, is sort of surprised. His hand makes a open gesture, his face is perplexed, as if he didn’t expect this turn of events, as if he has no interest in what is going to happen. I felt so near these three characters, as if they were actors who didn’t believe in their parts, but had orders to complete their tasks.