And I'm off! Week 1 of '52 Weeks of Watercolor Painting'. I have a step by step below for those interested.
My reference photo came from the Morguefile.
First a word about the reason I chose a Stillman and Birn 9x12 Beta series wirebound sketchbook for this year's 52 weeks. The Stillman & Birn Beta paper is actually formulated for more than just watercolor, which means it handles differently than watercolor paper does. This isn't a bad thing, especially if you want to do more than watercolor. It just means I know I will have to adjust for certain things when using the paper.
One of the things I want to improve this year is my brushwork. I work very loose. Sometimes too loose. I don't want to lose that fluidity, but I want to improve my precision. The Beta Series paper dries very quickly, which means you are more likely to get hard edges, but it also means you can see your brush strokes. I think this will help me by letting me see how wild I'm getting with those strokes.
Now, a little about my setup. A while back I purchased a baby food try (ice tray) with a lid. I premixed some Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna in a couple of the sections. I did one mix that is predominately blue and one that is predominately brown. These two colors combined are one of the best mixes for creating dark, dark values and I use it a lot.
|TOP-DAGGER BRUSH, LOWER LEFT-CAT'S TONGUE BRUSH, LOWER RIGHT-ROUND BRUSH|
- Use my brush strokes to imply the shape of things--the swirl of leaves, the sweep of the fiddlehead stalk.
- Make sure I have a foreground (the fiddleheads), a mid-ground (the other ferns) and a background (the open area of color).
Before continuing, I sprayed some water into my palette...
...and created some mixes. I tried to mix up enough to last for the entire painting, though I knew I'd add more pigment as I went along to get different colors. This gives you an idea of the consistency of the paint I used. Remember, every time you add water to a mix, the more you dilute the color. So if you can't finish the painting in one setting, and the paint dries, you'll want to add both more water and more paint.
At this point, I use the sides of the brush as much as possible- more like spreading butter on bread than drawing. I try not to use the tip of the brush until the very last steps of the painting and then only for the smallest details.