So it's the end of the year and a few days ago I actually took up watercolor painting again. It's been decades since I did a "serious" watercolor painting. Serious means actually using a half of one of those two full sheets of D'Arches cold pressed watercolor paper I bought over a year ago. In watercolor, the paper is your ally - you can achieve all kinds of cool effects by letting the paper help create textures and shapes.
My dentist has a wonderful painting in his office, by someone who used a full sheet - extravagant! - to depict the shore of a lake at dawn. The work shows total mastery of this challenging medium; the background and middleground are done "wet into wet," in which you give the pigment plenty of water and let it radiate outward or flow in a given direction. A good sheet of paper will stay just wet enough to let this happen but not allow it to just go everywhere. Of course you have to judge the wetness of the paper carefully and fill your brush accordingly. The foreground uses "dry brush," which, as the name implies, is lots of pigment with very little water. This gives an interesting texture which can be painted over with a thin wash or left as is.
So of course I messed up the tree I started to paint right away and had to use my other ally, white tempera paint. Tempera mixed with watercolor is a medium known as gouache, and it makes the transparent watercolor opaque, at least partially. In other words, you can correct mistakes you can't correct in watercolor alone. Some painters would call this "cheating;" I say, "F u, see my April 14th post about Warhol et al."
And I was just looking at a Wayne Thiebaud work; apparently he just died, aged 101! Thiebaud did some of the juiciest paint handling I've ever seen; it's just luscious. Scroll down this article to see the picture "Pies,pies,pies" - you could almost reach into the painting and scoop up some of the whipped cream from the French silk. With a little extra tempera, I could do something similar. But then I also want to take advantage of the watercolor "wet into wet" method, to make the shadows on the trees look naturalistic but not "realistic." Because I'm still determined to turn myself into an Expressionist. More about that next year.
Some time ago I did a preliminary study for the painting I'm working on now; I used cheap, toothless paper and just kept splashing on watercolor and tempera. I thought it was just junk to be discarded but there were a couple things I liked about it so I kept it. Then I scanned a digital version of it and on looking at that I realized I had come close to acheiving what I wanted - an expression of the exuberance of nature, with the trees leaping towards the sky, the branches jostling each other as the wind blows through them, and the day lilies just flaunting themselves in their perfect orangeness. So the drawing part of the picture has to be subordinate to the colors; that's a departure for me. By the way, Happy New Year.