Saturday, 18 January 2020

The start of a watercolour commission

After a number of very grey overcast days, today has been glorious. Wall to wall sunshine all day.
Yesterday, looking at the forecast, I decided I would paint the watercolour I have been meaning to paint for some time, so I got everything out, and printed out some photos (my computer skills when it comes to printing photos are dreadful, I struggle to print 2 images onto one sheet of paper, so this task took way more time than I ever thought it would) at least I would be ready to begin in the morning.

I began my day with a lovely walk across the fields to Lower Slaughter where the wheel on the water mill was sloshing around with the sheer volume of water cascading through it. Often I walk past it and its so pretty, but the wheel isn't going round, so this morning I stood and became quite mesmerised by it, until another dog walker with two very 'barky' dogs needed to pass by on the narrow path, and so we moved on. I am very fortunate with Maggie, she is a quiet, social little dog who trots along happily, tail up where ever we go.
Once back home I couldn't wait to begin!

First I needed to test if the Cotton Rag paper I was using would be suitable for masking fluid, as there are some breaking waves which I would like to include, so I painted a little test on the side of the picture, made a cup of tea whilst it dried then made a few colour trials on top of it. I'm sticking to a limited palette to keep continuity and unify the painting, so about 4 colours will be enough.

This is pretty much stage one.
Wetting the paper all over and working flat I drop the blue into the sky, continuing down the page in the sea and up onto the beach area in sweeping the bands of blue. Immediately I stroke in the colour of the sand from left to right, allowing the colours to merge slightly with the blue, leaving no part of the paper without colour.
I watch as the paint settles then add more colour strengthening it where I felt it was a little pale and adding a darker colour to the sand area. By the time I have added more to the foreground the top has begun to dry, so I can add the horizon and a darker section of water for the distance. I add more blue using a slightly brighter mix then stop.

You should just be able to make out the figure starting to emerge from the paper.
This now needs to dry, so lunch is called for, otherwise I might fiddle!

Next I use a dark blue and a little of the Copper beach colour and paint the rocks.
Then I darken some areas of blue and define some of the beach sections a little more.

I also add blue to the underside of the waves as this will help them to look as if they are rolling once I remove the masking fluid.
I decide not to leave the masking fluid on overnight, as the sample on the side was a bit stubborn to remove.
Wood pulp papers are far more forgiving when it comes to masking fluid, so Bockingford for example would be a good choice of paper. However, I wanted to use Cotton Rag High White as I love the way the paint absorbs into the paper giving lots of depth to multiple washes.

The paper must be absolutely dry before removing masking fluid, otherwise it can tear the paper with it, so I left it for ages and baked some chocolate brownies.
Once they were in the oven, I needed to tidy up and by the time I had done all that, the paper was dry.

I used to use a piece of cotton to remove masking fluid, but Terry came back from teaching in NC the USA in 2016 and brought back a rubber square of masking fluid remover. Its like an eraser, except it picks up the rubber off the paper. It mean less rubbing and seems to be gentler on cotton papers. You can see it pictured just above my palette.
So this is the stage I got to today.

We are due for sunshine again tomorrow, so I plan to finish the painting then. I have no idea how it will all work out, but I'll let you know.

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