Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Talk on Technique

Well, to my surprise, I had one of my wonderful readers send me a comment suggesting I follow up on the Rogue Valley Manor presentation with some snippets from my actual talk - to give you a peek into my crazy, complex technique. So here goes . . . this is a excerpt from my notes (well, I've made it sound like English now and corrected misspellings and abbreviations) . . .

"My favorite pigments are usually earthy, natural mixes but, to get some of the punchy, vivid colors I do layer with bold yellows, pinks and oranges.

I have pet brushes too (WN Scepter Gold II) – the majority are synthetic & natural hair blends. But there is nothing like a fat Kolinskey sable brush (a brush with only male mink tail hairs. These animals are native to Siberia and northeastern China, where the cold helps grow a thick, long hair that carry huge amounts of water) or a wiry synthetic to scrub off an area I want to lighten!

I do have an apparently, unusual painting technique – in that I paint w/2 brushes at the same time. 1-for carry pigment 2-for water source or moistening. And I have to admit when lost in painting – I have painted swatches across my overhead lamp to anything in the way of my unused brush.

Before starting my painting process, I define my image. I’m pretty exacting whether I start a piece plein air or work in my studio from photos.

Often I have just my sketchbook or journal with me when I want to capture a scene. These personal journals have added so much to my technique. Not only do I sketch more quickly but also, I relax into looseness, not worrying about errors and I experiment more – and that transfers later into my bigger paintings. The journaling, I find is more spontaneous and publicly unencumbered (although the writing can get pretty personal).

I’d taken my sketchbook along on a women’s hiking retreat. Well . . .
. . . and that’s one of the points I teach in my WC Sketching & Journaling Classes.

Now, with my fine art pieces I feel them to be more intense, complex and personal. These larger works spring off my journal sketches or redesigned photo references - into small line drawings. From there I use my trusty computer to enlarge my drawing so I can transfer it to WC paper AND I make 2 pale copies of the small drawing – 1, for working out a value study and 2, to suggest where I will pour my first layer of primary colors

But before any pigment goes on the WC sheet I determine exactly where I want to save my whites – VERY important with WC since the paper IS your WHITES – and save them with frisket (misket, plastic liquid that dries and can later be pulled up) or with Wax Crayons.

They are the latest discovery to my painting process – and I just LOVE them

These crayons (Caran de Ache) are brilliant solid pigment that act as a resist (your wet pigments will resisit staying on it) AND as bright colors that bleed throught the wet pigments.

After applying my resists – I mix a light value, #7 on a value scale, (or darkness) of my 3 primaries (Aureolin yellow, Thalo blue and Carmine red) and slop them onto my paper. Oh yes, they run into each other and the paper bubbles up with wetness, forming valleys and bumps – but it’s very exciting!

They I focus in on developing shapes, usually I end up going way dark really early (one workshop I attended declared me the “Queen of Darks” – sounds sinister, eh? Well, actually, it's a compliment to a watercolorist) and layering thinly to create colors that glow through from behind. Sometimes I use 4 or more layers honing the curves or shadows of flowers. "

Hope that gives you a window into my techniques . . . love to hear your feedback and comments on unusual techniques you indulge in . . .

1 comment:

Peggi Habets said...

Elaine,
Great post. You DO have a unique way of painting! Using the Caran de Ache crayons is an interesting way to save the whites and put down color. I would like to try them. Do you have certain colors you like to use?