Mar 2, 2017

How to Lift your Watercolours - Painting & Drawing Tips


I know the purpose of painting is to put paint down.  Get the wash going, mingle the colours and let the magic happen.  Ahhh. . .  Life is Good.  Don't you just love those moments?

Funny though, that is not the whole story.

My work is about wildlife.  So there is lots of loose mixes of colour at first setting the scene but tight detail as I zoom in on my subject.  And you know, I need that detail.  My chance to draw. I can't let the watercolours have all the fun.
Using my scrubbing brush I gently work the paint to lift off feather shapes
The Power of the Life is one of the tools I depend on. My painting, Log Mates, is of a Great Blue Heron standing on a log, with a Mallard Duck at his feet.  They are basking in the warm winter sun in a quiet slough .  I want him to have fluffy, soft feathers where he has curled his wing up near his head.  To do that I have used a series of glazes and lifts.
After the lift area dries I go in with several layers of glazes and refine the shape of my 'feathers'.  This creates several layers of colour/values.
In that chest area, below his head I laid a light wash of colour.  When it was dry I used my scrubber brush (see more on my brush here)  to gently lift off colour for 'white' feathers mingled in the mass of feathers.  When the lift areas were dry I then refined the feather shapes with a few more light washes.
My heron is now ready for me to finish the work on the background to really make him pop.  (Note I did a bit of lifting to reshape the top of his head as well.)
 This gave my feathers:
- hard and soft edges
- many different colours/values for my white feathers
- gave me a 'white' feather tone that was read as whites but darker than my pure white areas.

How does this 'lift' work?

First of all:  it's the paint.  Watercolour paints can be staining colours and non-staining colours.  A staining colour like Prussian Blue or Hooker Green settles quickly into the top layers of your paper and will not lift easily when dry.  Non-staining colours like Permanent Rose or Aureolin Yellow tend to settle more on the surface of the paper and will lift easily when dry. 

Secondly: its the paper. Some paper will break down when you scrub it with a wet brush while other paper works well.  See my last post "The Secrets of Watercolour Paper".  When I was first learning how to paint, I did not know about the secrets of the paper.  I couldn't understand how the instructors on the tutorials were doing what they were doing. With the right paper and the right paint you can scrub that paper almost back to white.  You are never getting white again.

Third: it is the scrubber.   You.  If you are removing paint to develop texture you are relaxed and working carefully.  If you are removing paint to correct a mistake you can be frustrated, impatient and pressured.  Relax.  Wet your scrubbing brush, not dripping but wet.  Gently work the area watching to see if the paint is mixing with your wet brush, blot with paper towel.  (kleenex may leave lint) Review your progress. If  there was little change, repeat. You may have been a little timid.  If you got a lot off.  Let things dry, and examine the area.  Remember, watercolour is darker when wet.  Repeat as needed. 

Using the "Lift" can be a valuable tool in your kit: Lifting off the ripples in the water, softening an harsh edge or creating a mixture of textures.  It is more than just a remedy for fixing a mistake.  

Do you use 'a Lift' in your working process?  What is your favourite lifter?  

Etsy Shop now Open: WendyMouldsArt  Come on In!!

Special Note to Artists: 

The Work of Art Conference  Saturday, March 11, 9-4pm  - 6 Sessions + Lunch, Arts Council of Surrey, Newton Cultural Center, Surrey, BC.  

Sessions focus on very specific Marketing Skills:
-  My Presentation: Creating a Strong Online Profile
-  Using the News media as a Promotional Tool
-  Grant Writing
-  Navigating the Publishing World
-  Business Plan Development.

Great opportunity to learn some new skills.  $25 Register by March 8, $40 after that.  Call 604-594-2700 to Register.

 Be sure to like and share my posts.
 You won't miss a single one if you Follow by Email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar on my blog)
 Have a great artful day,

No comments: