Saturday, February 28, 2015

Using Raw Umber to acheive rivulets and granulation, pt. 2- My Experiments!

So, I bought a big 37 ml tube of Raw Umber for this technique, and that has been invaluable, as I'm no longer stingy about squeezing it out of the tube (which you can't be, if you want the technique to work).  I've not used Da Vinci's yet (got a tube on order), but their 37ml tube is only 7$ or so on Amazon.  An amazing price, if the product works as well as the Winsor Newton I bought.

The basic principle is that you apply the first wash of color as a sort "transit agent" for the Raw Umber.  It helps the Raw Umber move and disperse, and the two colors interact in various ways, pullin the Raw Umber around the color circle visually.  So, into the first wash you very thickly dab the Raw Umber, almost straight from the tube (opened up with water just a tiny bit).  Then, as you tilt the paper, you either gently spritz the page or you daub water into it with you brush.  The water pushes through, and you get these fantastically interesting affects.   Susan Murphy goes over it all in the video I shared in the last post, and I talk about it (and show some in progress pics) from this post on Bjorn Bernstrom's methods.

Below I used Burnt Sienna/Napthol Red on the left and, if I remember correctly, Cerulean Blue on the right.  Cerulean Blue clearly pulled the Raw Umber into green.

I applied a wet wash of Cad Yellow here on the left, and Dioxazine Purple on the right.  There was a throw away image on the page originally, and you can see how the red of it (dry when  I started) showed through nicely.  I really liked this effect, and think there's interesting possibilities to explore, where you could lay certain colors down first, then let them show through later.

Here I actually pre-mixed the Raw Umber with Neutral Tint very gently, then applied it as such in certain sections.  This darkens and greys out the Raw Umber, but still allows it to granulate and make rivulets.

This was a wet wash of Magenta (PR122).  It was a beautiful combo, but I couldn't think of anything to do with it...??

This was mixing Viridian and Yellow Cad for the base wash, then applying the super-thick Raw Umber as before, with the other samples, wet into wet.

What was fun was that I then found images in these, and pulled them out, just playing around- adding some Chinese White, or putting in darker shadows, etc.  Below are the samples.  Nothing earth shattering, all in all, but a lot of fun, and a good way to spend an afternoon using up the backs of "mistake" paintings.

I darkened some of the shadows, put the ripples in the water, and lay some very fine lines of Cad Yellow in there as highlights on the green.

I was playing with the idea of a mountain.  A very rough version of an earlier snowy painting I did.

Here, I was also playing with the idea of distant mountains- also from a different painting I did back in October.

After that, I thought, "Sweet, I've got it."  And so had a go at the mountain scene.  Nope.  Too dang dark!!!

The major things I learned are that-

1) Raw Umber makes everything a rich, dark valued brown.  It's hard to paint a distant object using this technique, because the color is just too dark in value and too high in chroma right from the beginning.
2) It works well in the foreground (much like Bjorn's images up top), or as a backround/ textural effect in images that lack heavy depth (like the Susan Murphy example).
3) How you apply the water, after you've laid down the Raw Umber, affects the way the final effect looks.  Take your brush in and dab the water/watery pigment in, and you'll get heavy "rivers" for your rivulets, as the point of entry for the water is in fewer locations.  Spritz the water on, and you'll more likely get tiny little rivulets like on a windshield.  The look is relatively different.
4) The visual "oomph" of the rivulets goes away pretty quick when you begin to glaze on top of it with shadows, etc.
5) I need to find some sort of greyer, lighter valued, opaque pigment to combine with it to stretch the values I'll have available to me when I use the technique.  I can already make it darker by mixing the Raw Umber with Neutral Tint or Lunar Black.  Now I need something paler.  Then I think I could really use it in a greater variety of compositions.

In the next post, I share some more experiments and successes.  I did a lot of testers using Chinese White and Lunar Black, to varying levels of success, and also tried glazing Chinese White over things to push them back.  I'll share them in the next post.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Using Raw Umber to achieve rivulets and granulation, pt. 1- Bjorn Bernstrom and Susan Murphy

Last summer, as I went over in three earlier blog posts (pt. 1, pt. 2, and pt. 3), I took a class with Bjorn Bernstrom.  Amongst many techniques he employs, he uses Raw Umber to get these wonderful passages in his work, full of rivulets and granulation--

I began to experiment with this technique, only to discover that (gasp! surprise!) it's not as easy as it seems.  Yes... yes, I know.  Anyways.... :P

Fortunately, the internet came to the rescue, and I discovered another person who uses a similar technique.  For those who are interested, you should check out Susan Murphy.  Here's a link to her website.  Susan Murphy seems to have had a long career as a painter doing many different things, but she currently uses Raw Umber to similar effect, and then uses a stencil brush to pull back out highlights.

It's pretty interesting stuff.  This video is available online, so I thought I'd share it.  It's of a workshop of hers, and explains a lot of what I also do when I apply Raw Umber myself.  She actually has more than one video up, so its worth exploring her site. She has generously provided them free to stream, and there's lots to learn for those who are interested.

Having seen that, I've been experimenting, failing, and learning a lot.  Of course, this is the technique I used in the owl paintings (here's a link to the post) I shared back in November/ December of last year, but I've been playing with other applications too.  Here's an example of my production using the technique in a localized fashion (on the wing)-

In the next post, I'll be sharing examples of what happens when you combine Raw Umber with different colors, either with a different background wash (into which you apply the Raw Umber as "Butter" into the Wet wash, or by actually gently mixing a different color into the Raw Umber, and then applying them as one. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Exploring artists and techniques from the 2nd Biennial International Watercolor Show, pt. 4- Cheng Chen-wen and Herman van Hoogdalem

After my series of posts on the watercolor show, (links here-- pt.1, pt. 2, pt. 3) ) I was posting some of my unshared photos on wetcanvas, and someone else was able to identify one of the (famous) watercolor artists whose name I couldn't find.  Cheng Chen-wen (or Chen Wen Cheng, depending on how you approach it).  I also had a series of close ups on Herman van Hoogdalen's work, and so wanted to show them both, now that I could identify them.

Cheng Chen-Wen-
Here's a link to his Facebook page.   Lots more great paintings there.

I feel like a dunce, but I didn't take a pic of this artist's name, and for the life of me I couldn't remember it. Thanks to that wetcanvas poster who shared it with me!!  Cheng Chen-Wen's quite famous, so I really ought to have known. This one was also very big (bigger than a standard full sheet, again), perhaps 4' x 4' or more. I was obviously drawn to these large pieces, as they were so impressive, but there were also quite small pieces as well.

 Here's a closeup of the eye. The literature said he was using some sort of traditional brush with tines (sort of like a comb??) for some of the work. You can see it here, when you get in close.  Of course, this area around the eye was still something like 8" square, so quite big. He's obviously building value with it. He did the same thing for some of the very fine hair curling at the back of her head, which you can see in the second pic (pardon the reflections!)

Then, just to show the astounding detail he accomplished, below is a small 6" x 6" closeup of her collar!! Crazy!  Is it done just with some rough, textural brushwork? or some sort of very detailed stippling??  Considering the detail in the rest of the piece, I'm assuming it's some sort of stippling or minute work, but I'm not sure.

I really liked this piece, but would never want to paint like this. It's not me, but I can appreciate his skill. Wow!!!

Herman van Hoogdalen-

 This person had only a single painting in the show, and it was actually a reprint of an original. Not sure why. This painting was HUGE. Perhaps 6 or 7' tall and 4' wide. They actually hung it like a poster. From the text I read next to the painting, it was reprinted at the original size. Wow! It is supposedly part of a series of paintings he did of people suffering from dementia. While that subject made it difficult to view for some, I found it fascinating and emotionally revealing. I also thought his technique was stellar.

If you got in close, you could see that the brush work was loose and full of life, but totally legible and very accurate when you stood back. Much like looking at a Monet.

This section of the eye might have been 1' x 1' or so, to give you a sense.

Thanks for stopping by again.  For me, lesson learned- see art live and in the flesh.