Saturday, 25 July 2009

Watercolour techniques - 'Rejuvenation'

Indulging in all these creative activities recently has got the right brain the work out it deserves. The challenge of bending your mind into watercolour mode (from oil) is mind-bending indeed. Although the teachers say basic principles apply to both oil and watercolour, to the uninitiated it is hard to see the wood from the trees when confronted with a blank sheet of paper and puddles of paint. Even to reach out for a tube of colour is intimidating as fear and lack of confidence sets in at every move.
The Subject
These jottings are part of a mental exercise to document and recall the main steps and techniques involved in executing this painting and not aimed as a teaching tool. The painting 'Rejuvenation' by Phuan Thai Meng was selected for its colour and form of local foliage.
Sketch & Focus
To start off, a sketch is made, to proportion, in pencil focusing on the banana tree trunk, bunch of bananas, flowering shoot and frond. Using brown, Vandyke brown, black, raw umber, lemon yellow, red and crimson lake, the trunk, shoot and frond is given a light wash. Lemon yellow is used for the bananas. Later yellow green and viridian are added to the bananas leaving lemon yellow as highlights.
Background wash
The lower four fifth of the background is given a lemon yellow wash, followed by a cobalt blue wash for the sky.
Negative vs positive
Whilst it is the novices instinct to paint in the leaves, the correct approach in water colour is to paint the negative areas around the leaves or subject of interest. This creates the outline and gives depth of perception. This is illustrated in the following two diagrams.
Following the pencil sketch, the 'negative' area around the leaf is outlined using lighter (70%) or darker (100%) shades to depict depth or layering.
The effect will turn out to look like this.
This diagram explains the concept of layering as deeper layers appear darker due to the layering of colour. . .
. . . as seen below in the left lower corner - shades of green in 3 layers.
In this painting the artist has attempted to 'frame' the four corners of the picture with dark green (almost black) areas in the shape of leaves. This effect brings the picture together and increases focus to the central elements.

Use of black

This is an important technique used to draw attention to certain areas of interest like the corners, certain parts of the trunk, outline of the bananas, shoot, stem and veins of leaves.

It is a fallacy to say that black is a colour not to be used in watercolour as it will muddy up a painting. One only needs to take care to clean brushes well and change water after using black to prevent this from happening.

Finally one stands back to compare the painting to the reference picture and examine the result.

No comments: