2017 has been with us for a while now and I’ve been busy over the last few months preparing for some new exhibitions. We’ve also been out and about quite a lot sketching in the local area.
Exhibitions in 2017:
WORDS AND PICTURES, TEIGNMOUTH currently on display
TORRE ABBEY, TORQUAY - until Sunday 19th November
SOUTHWEST ACADEMY OPEN EXHIBITION - 14th to 25th Nov.
I’ve already briefly mentioned paper on the Home page.
When I’m outside sketching on holiday or just down at the beach or on nearby Dartmoor, I like to use a fold-flat sketchbook that’s suitable for direct application of fairly wet watercolour. This is useful for capturing the tones and mood of the composition using washes and rough shapes of the landscapes. It’s difficult to find commercial books of this type with sufficiently heavy weight paper so I make them up myself. The photo opposite shows the finished results. These two books measure about 25cm x 19cm per page and 50cm x 19cm when opened out.
Each book contains 16 pages and is made up of 2 sheets of Arches Aquarelle 400lb (850gsm) ‘Rough’ watercolour paper A1 in size. You can buy this from Jackson’s or other reputable art suppliers. This paper isn’t cheap, but well worth the extra cost if you want a strong, high quality paper that won’t buckle when wet and can withstand much rubbing out and re-working.
The pages are joined in pairs on the rear (rougher) side, using self-adhesive picture framing tape, such that when opened the front side does not present a central tape that would destroy the flow of the painting. You can paint on both sides, but the the back side is restricted to one single page with a tape dividing it from the next sheet. The whole lot is bound into hard covers cannibalised from old A4 ring binder covers, which have a nice shiny finish, using a strong wide tape such as Gorilla Tape.
Although both Rough and Smooth papers shown have a definite front and back, you can still paint on both sides.
Two sketch books made from Arches Rough 400lb paper
You can paint across both sheets on the taped side provided you don’t mind splitting the picture!
You can see how thick the paper is from this vertical view - it’s almost like painting on cardboard …
This shows a comparison between 400lb Rough paper and 300lb Hot Pressed Smooth paper. I’ll demonstrate the different effects in the Section on Painting Techniques …
Click on each image to enlarge ….
I shall talk about watercolour paint, although I have painted in oils, acrylic and egg tempera. You could argue that watercolour includes acrylic and tempera because they are water soluble (as are water based oils) but they behave and are applied very differently.
So, what watercolours do I use?
First of all, I use tubes in preference to pans as the paint can be applied much more densely and therefore can show a wider tonal variation. Even when painting ‘en plein air’ I prefer to use tubes and carry a small range of colours in a plastic sandwich box.
If I’m copying something accurately, ie to produce an ‘ultra realistic’ painting, I may use a wider range of colours, and I will carry on mixing these on a flat, white plate until I achieve a pretty close match. For more of a quick sketch or an imagined landscape or seascape I will use fewer colours and mix what I need from primary colours.
Most commonly used colours include:
INDANTHRENE BLUE and
These are all from the Daler Rowney range. From these you can mix virtually any other colour.
If I want something a bit warmer or dramatic, I will add:
CADMIUM RED, ORANGE and YELLOW
PRUSSIAN BLUE and/or PHTHALO BLUE
Combinations of these can produce more ‘Summery’ greens
Occasionally I will also use:
CAPUT MORTUUM PURPLE (Winsor and Newton)
ULTRAMARINE VIOLET and ALIZARIN CRIMSON
Opposite are some swatches of all these colours together with some secondary and tertiary colours when these are combined together.
Pass the cursor over each colour for a description
Below are examples of the main colours I use, described in the left hand column. They don’t represent my full colour range but are the main ones in my ‘travelling box’
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