Piece I: Water Color Techniques
The materials used for this piece were as follows: ruler, water color paper, masking tape, stapling board, stapler (with staples), H pencil, water color palette with paints, spray bottle, bowl of water, fine-tipped and flat-edged water color brushes, salt, splattering brush, plastic wrap, masking fluid, rubbing square, and paper towels.
For both of the two pieces in this project, we first soaked the water color paper in water. This would expand the fibres and allow it to become more receptive of paint. In order to prevent the "wrinkling" effect that happens when water dries on paper, we then stapled the wet paper onto a wooden stapling board. This way, when the wet paper dries, the staples prevent the fibres from contracting, allowing the water applied from water color paint from creating any wrinkles on the paper surface.
Once this step was complete, we placed the stapling board with our two pieces water color paper on the drying rack. After our paper was dry, would could then proceed to painting on them. This first piece was to practice the our targeted 15 water color techniques: graduated wash, blending wash, bleeding, feathering, wet into wet, wet on dry, dry brush...etc. To practice these techniques, we used a ruler and H pencil to divide our paper into 15 separate squares. By spraying water onto our water color palette paints, the gum arabic inside them would activate and allow the pigment to be used. While practicing these techniques, it was important to first dip our wet paintbrushes inside the pigment and then transfer them onto the plastic palette cap. This way, instead of spreading more water color paint onto our pieces, we simply stained the paper with diluted water color.
While I don't want to go into the specifics of every single one of these 15 techniques, I do want to highlight three of them: graduated wash, water blooms, and masking fluid.
Graduated washes were created by putting on a lot of pigment on one side of the square, then using water to pull that color across the rest of the square. This created a dark to light ombre effect. For water blooms, we painted an entire square a certain color and then used a clean brush to drag or drop clean water onto the square. This would create a beautiful ruffled effect.
Thirdly, we used masking fluid. When painted on top of a surface and then allowed to dry, masking fluid protected the surface underneath it from getting stained with paint, enabling artists to easily retain sharp lines of contrast. To use the masking fluid, we first had to cover our brush bristles with soap in order to protect the bristles from sticking together. Once the masking fluid dried, we could paint on top of it and remove the dried fluid with a rubbing square.
It was important for all of these techniques that I left a little space of dry paper between each square. This way, color from different techniques would not spread to other squares.
Some challenged I faced with these techniques include creating a "lifting out" effect. This effect was where you painted a solid color and then, while the paint is still wet, use a dry brush to take off some of that paint. This was a bit difficult for me because when I first tried this, the difference in removed paint was not very obvious. I eventually solved this by adding more pigment and pressing harder with my dry brush to remove the paint.
Techniques from left to right, top to bottom:
1. Graduated Wash
2. Blending Wash from Primary to Secondary
5. Wet into Wet
6. Wet on Dry
7. Lifting out
8. Water blooms
9. Masking with Masking Fluid
10. Masking with Masking Tape
11. Rock Salt
13. Tissue Paper Technique
14. Dry Brush
15. Plastic Wrap Texture
Piece II; Water Color Painting
The materials used for this piece were as follows: water color paper, masking tape, stapling board, stapler (with staples), pliers, laminated reference photo, H pencil, water color palette with paints, spray bottle, bowl of water, fine-tipped and flat-edged water color brushes, salt, splattering brush, plastic wrap, masking fluid, rubbing square, and paper towels.
In this second piece, we were to demonstrate an understanding of the water color techniques we had practiced earlier. To ensure the edges of our painting would remain sharp, the first step we did was surround the piece of paper with masking tape, also covering the staples. Then, we chose one of Mr. Laurence's laminated pictures as a reference photo. I chose a picture of our school's elementary playground slide. Once we had chosen our picture, we then used an H pencil to make a light sketch of it onto our second piece of water color paper. It was important to use an H pencil because anything softer (like a B pencil) would smear easily and spread from the water color applied over it. It was also important to not erase too much, otherwise the fibers of the water color paper would get ripped.
When the sketch of my reference photo was complete, I then used the masking fluid to cover any areas I wanted to keep white. Since water color is very translucent, the only way to keep a section of your painting white was to not paint over it. Like before, I first had to cover my brush (my choice was a fine-bristled brush) with soap, dip it into the bottle of masking fluid, and then carefully paint it over the spaces between my slide's back wall, places where lots of sunlight would hit, the tops of my slide's steps, and the dots on the playground floor. After waiting for it to dry overnight, I then proceeded to painting with water color.
Like with the Water Color Map piece, Mr. Laurence told us we didn't need to follow the reference photo "verbatim". While I chose my reference photo because of its interesting color combination of solid blues, yellows, reds, and greens, I knew I didn't have to follow it exactly. In the end, I did choose to keep most of the general colors, however this served as only a base to build upon.
First, I started out with painting the slide in my drawing blue. On the left side of my slide, I used the techniques of lifting out and using tissue paper. Because I wanted the blue paint on that side of my slide to be especially faint, I first used a dry brush to remove the still-wet blue water color. However, I couldn't remove all of the excess water with my dry brush. To solve this, I then used some tissue paper and lightly dabbed crinkled tissue paper over it, overlapping the two techniques. Next, I painted my slide's back wall blue and crumpled a piece of plastic wrap and let it dry over the wet paint. When the paint dried and I removed the wrap, it created the plastic wrap effect.
After this, I painted the slide entrance archway with diluted yellow water color. Once that was dry, I painted the entire area with clean water and used the feathering technique to drop create hints of green. This was done by dragging green water color over this wash of clean water. Since I didn't want the yellow and green to blend, I had first waited for the diluted yellow wash to dry.
With the red steps leading down into the entrance of the slide, I used three different water color techniques from top to bottom: wet into wet, graduated wash, and rock salt. The first section was wet purple paint onto a wet base of red color. The next one was a graduated wash with red paint, and the one below was a combination of red and purple water color with rock salt sprinkled on top. By adding rock salt to the still-wet paint, the salt would absorb the water and leave a design. Once the paint had dried, all you had to do was lightly scrape the salt off.
I also used graduated wash with the green surfaces of my slide and, once that was dry, used the wet on dry technique on top. This technique involved using varying thicknesses of lines to create designs on a dry surface. By the slide's backboard, I also used green paint and a splatter brush to create a spattering effect. For this, I took the stiff and thick-bristled brush with wet green water color and ran my thumb through it, aiming at the spot I wanted splattered.
The final three techniques I used were bleeding wash, blending wash, and dry brush. In the top right corner of my painting, I painted a thick band of yellow paint, and then while it was still wet, painted a band of red paint right below it. The water in both paints then allowed the red paint to "bleed" into the yellow paint. Below that, I had created a blending wash with blue and yellow. To achieve this, I painted a band of blue paint and then painted a band of yellow next to it, continuing down until the only color visible was yellow. Finally, for the playground floor where the masking fluid dots were, I dried my brush and picked up orange paint with very little water on it, dragging it across the paper. On top of that, I had used splattering with green and purple a second time.
In total, I had used 13 techniques:
1. Lifting out
2. Tissue Paper
3. Plastic Wrap
5. Wet into Wet
6. Graduated Wash
7. Rock Salt
8. Wet on Dry
10. Bleeding Wash
11. Blending Wash
12. Dry Brush
13. Masking Fluid
With all of my painting done, the only steps I had left were to remove the masking fluid, outline with permanent marker, take off the masking tape from the paper's edge, and remove the piece of paper from the stapling board. The masking fluid was easily removed with the rubbing square, however the masking tape was a bit trickier. It would rip the surface fiber of the paper off, so I had to make sure I peeled away from my painting. Then, since most of my pencil outlines had faded with the addition of water color, I brought my lines back with black permanent marker. Finally, using a pair of pliers, I removed the staples from the piece of paper and the board.
Some challenges I faced while painting this piece include successfully incorporating water color techniques and painting in the slide. First, let's talk about using the techniques. I didn't know when to use what kinds of techniques, and for the first few minutes before I lay down my brush, I was very indecisive about what to do. Should I just go down the list and not care about whether or not my painting looked nice? Or should I paint everything in first, and then add in the techniques later? Eventually, I decided both ideas were either not desirable or too time consuming. So in the end, I divided my sketch into sections and designated a different water color technique to each one. Then, later on, I could add on more techniques if I felt something was missing.
Secondly, painting my slide was rather difficult. In my reference photo, you could tell the slide had bumps and curves and steps imprinted into it. However, how was I to convey that to my viewer with just water color? I spent a long time looking at my photo and realized that the slide space beside the stairs were actually darker than the tops of the steps. I had already used masking fluid to cover the tops of the steps, so all I had to do was make the two spaces the the left and right of it a darker blue. To make my steps actually look like steps, I then used a lot of pigment with then water to create an even darker blue below those steps. This, coupled with my final touch outlining, created an image of the slide I wanted to show.
While this piece was especially challenging since it involved including many technical aspects, I still enjoyed the process and surprised myself with how well my final product turned out.