Sunday, April 29, 2018

Testing New Watercolor Papers from Hahnemühle!

I recently received a new paper to try out from Hahnemühle USA, the Harmony 140 lb. cold pressed block. The best way I know of to test new paper is to put it through all the paces -- heavy washes, lifting, masking fluid, and other forms of abuse that I inflict upon my paper in the course of creating a painting. Here's a step by step tutorial of my koi painting, and a review of the paper in the process.

The Harmony 140 lb CP watercolor block from Hahnemuehle. 

Here's my drawing of koi with masking fluid protecting parts of the paper. I also outlined the koi with a thin line of masking fluid to allow me to work the background really wet and control the flow of water better. The masking fluid reserves the white of the paper, and the thin outline helps to keep my heavy wet washes from running out of control.

I used a variety of dark colors for the backgound, and a lot of palette mud, too. You can see from the puddles and sheen how wet the paper still is at this point. While the paper was still damp, I splashed a few drops of water onto it to create a few tiny spots of blooms. 

Next I painted my lightest values on the fish, the yellow colors. Notice my background wash is still wet -- I used a lot of water!

Here I added my medium values to the koi, namely the orange and red colors -- cadmiums, vermillion, quinacrodone rose, violet, and a little sepia for the darks. Notice how light the background appears in this photo, compared to the previous photo? That's because it is now dry. I used a lot of water to create the background, and the more water you use, the lighter the watercolor paints will dry. Adding water to watercolor paint is akin to adding white paint to oils or acrylics -- it lightens the colors. 

More dark values are added using ivory black, sepia, indigo, and violet to create form and roundness to the fish. The masking fluid comes off easily, revealing perfectly preserved paper on which I can now paint.  

The koi have a freckled appearance to them, which I added with my darkest colors of ivory black. I scrubbed and lifted some areas that I had previously painted, to show some of the lighter patterns in the fish's colors.  

And finally, this is my finished painting of the koi. 
The Harmony paper from Hahnemuehle responded beautifully, and held up perfectly despite my abusive painting techniques. It naturally buckled under my heavy washes, but then dried flat. I really gave it a workout and didn't expect it to perform as well as it did, and I was pleasantly surprised that the paper far exceeded all of my expectations. The texture is quite nice, slightly toothy. The paper is surface sized and the amount of sizing appears to be quite generous, giving that the amount of water that I used and the lifting techniques all worked quite well. The color is soft white -- not overly bright, but no hint of any yellow or cream color. 

This paper is new, and is currently available at Art Materials Online. It will be available at other retailers soon. 
Keep up with all of Hahnemuehle latest products by following them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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posted by Annie Strack @ 3:47 PM   1 Comments

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Plein Air Painting Workshop, May 7

There are only 2 spaces left in my plein air painting workshop at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. All of my workshops have sold out for the next several months, so this is your last chance to get in a workshop this spring!

Students will learn how to break through the confusion of choosing a plein air painting subject, and learn how to plan a landscape composition by eliminating distractions and focusing on their subjects. They will learn how to capture light and shadow in their paintings, and how t o see the landscape in simplified shapes of color and values. They will learn how to mix colors with limited palette, and depict a variety of perspective techniques to create depth and dimension in paintings. We will cover how to sketch quick values studies, and add buildings, architectural elements and gestural figures to the landscape to create drama and interest in paintings. A variety of techniques will be demonstrated, and students will receive lots of hands on individual instruction and critique.

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:27 PM   0 Comments

Monday, April 9, 2018

How to make a quick and easy shelf for a watercolor easel!

Many watercolor artists paint flat -- using a table to paint upon rather than an easel. I prefer to use an easel, and I like a watercolor easel because it allows me to tip the painting flat when I'm laying in a wash, and tip it vertically for other techniques. The drawback to these easels is that there isn't anywhere to place a palette and other supplies-- so a table is still needed.

I came up with a new idea for an attachable easel shelf, that's simple and easy to make. And really inexpensive!

This is a wire closet shelf. It is 12 inches deep, and I cut it to 16 inches wide. I choose that size because it is the same size as a 12x16 block of watercolor paper, so it will be easy to pack it with my blocks when I'm traveling. 

It is simply hung on the bracket screws on the easel's legs. The bracket screws are made to hold the canvas shelf (aka stabilizer shelf). My easel has two pairs of these brackets, and I hung my new shelf on the lower pair. My canvas shelf is right above it, on the other pair. 

This photo shows how the shelf rests on the easel. I added a larger washer behind each of the screws to help hold it more securely, but it really didn't need it. The two parallel horizontal bars of the shelf are what is holding it flat against the legs, and keeping the surface of the shelf level. The vertical connectors between the horizontal bars are spaced 12 inches apart -- the perfect width for bracing against the screws.

Want to learn more? Watch this short video for the full details on how to make and attach this shelf! Not sure how to attach it with only one pair of bracket screws? Watch the video to see how it can be secured with a bungee, instead. 

And here's another wire shelf. I found a small stack of these at the Habitat re-store, already cut to 16 inches wide and ready to hang. Best of all, they were priced at a buck a piece. Absolutely perfect.

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posted by Annie Strack @ 8:39 PM   0 Comments

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