May 24, 2018

Turn Your Sketchbook into Your Own Personal Treasure Part 2 - Painting & Drawing Tips


Have you ever really looked at the cover of a Sketchbooks?  The ones with the really good paper that really works for you? 
Moleskins, Stillman & Birns, Stathmore's MultiMedia, Arches Watercolour Book, . . .

I MADE IT MINE - The cover of my Sketchbook is ready to roll - see how below

As sketchbooks go they are great.  Durable bindings, hardback covers, open flat, multi-sizes, paper takes water, graphite, ink and laughs and asks for more.  But their covers are boring, plain, not inspiring even on a good day.  This wont do, Your Sketchbook is your best Friend.  It is there to inspire and support you.  Make it Yours.
My Moleskin Travel Journal - Love the size and shape

Meet one of my friends.  My Moleskin 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 inch book.  I love the horizontal shape, it makes for really great full page spreads but also big enough that each page is great for a picture.  It lies nice and flat when opened and the paper takes everything I throw at it and doesn't buckle.  There is no bleeding through to the next page either.  My kind of book.

But very boring solid black cover.  

After I have used my book a bit, I like to 'Make it Mine' by painting my own cover using Watercolour. Acrylic painters can just apply gesso and paint away, but to use Watercolour there is more involved!!  You know, nothing about Watercolour is easy, right.

Prepping your Book:  

In my last post "Turn Your Sketchbook into Your Own Personal Treasure" I explained how to prepare you cover for watercolour.

My Plan: 
Mermaid Cover - My Reference for my Cover Picture

My plan is to put my picture of Mermaid Cove onto the cover of my book.  This little Cove is located at the Saltery Bay Campsite, near Powell River on the West Coast of BC.  It is a real treat to walk along the shore early in the morning and watch the sun come up over the mountain.  This little cove just lights up, always making me feel happy.

As part of my design I used green painters tape to save a portion of the cover so I could border my picture and put some writing on the cover.
My Set Up - Note that I am working in several parts of the picture as I wait for areas to dry

Let's Paint: 
As part of my prep, a light outline of my design has already been done in pencil so I can now jump in.

Secrets to Painting on Absorbent Ground

*Like any watercolour surface there are a few tricks to get the best performance of your paints.  I am using my trusty little paint set up that is in my travel kit as I like to practice with it.  My colours: Hooker Green, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Aureolin, New Gamboge, Permenant Rose and a little Winsor Blue (Green Shade) in the water.

*Wait at least 24 hours for your Absorbent Ground to set

*Keep your brush wet but not too wet.  As soon as you touch the surface your water/paint will be grabbed and seems to bleed out onto the surface.  Lots of water, big bleed, almost dry like dry-brushing means you can capture the detail

*Paint can be lifted off by lightly wetting it and using a paper towel to lift it.  Do not work it as you might cause your ground to break down. Let everything dry and repeat if needed.  I repeated the lifting process several times to make a corrections.  (I found Golden Absorbent Ground was pretty durable but I have seen others lift when too wet.)

I blocked in the colours for the rocks - just one stroke, and leave it.  

*Paint your stroke and leave it.  Don't keep reworking an areas with a wet brush.  You will lift the colour underneath and create mud or worst you might cause you surface to break down.
Once the blocking in was done, I glazed over the rocks with different colours.  Each layer was applied after the previous layer was dried. 

*Paint in layers.  Like regular paper the colours will dry lighter than they are so block in your colour and go back when dry and add the darks.  The rocks have several layers as I blocked in colour and then blended with my glazes.
Painted the water last - note the lowlands in the distant.  First layer painted in previous picture and darks added later.  

*The chalky nature of the surface seems to make it dry quickly so if you work on several areas at a time you should be able to continue without waiting for paint to dry.

*Make sure everything is "REALY" dry before removing the tape if you used it. (24 hrs)  I rushed mine a bit and the surface did break off a bit when I removed it.
Taped removed and final check before signing and sealing. 

*Sign it - I used my Micron Pen on my painting

*Signed my Cover with a Molotow White Acrylic Pump Marker.  It seems to cover well and takes a bit of punishment.

Seal Your Cover
Give it a light layer of Fixative to seal everything up.  Once this is dry apply 5 or 6 layers of Spray Vanish.  I used Krylon Kamar Vanish,  (Golden has an archival spray vanish that I didn't think I needed for this project.) Most of the spray varnishes are for Acrylic and Oil only so always check it it is good for watercolour.

See completed Journal at the top of the page.

Try Your Hand at Plein Air Painting: 

Plein Air Painting Festival - August 17-19,  KilbyHistorical Site, Harrison Mills, BC

Great Opportunity to Paint on an Historic Site with costume models, farm animals, farm scenery, old store and more.  Painting Friday and Saturday, & Sunday Morning,  Prizes, Luncheon, and Sales on Sunday Afternoon.  Great Prizes for all levels - Beginners to Advanced Welcome.

$15  Register 604-796-9576 by August 15, 2018.  
This is an awesome event, there are juried prizes and draw prizes so fun for all levels.  Registration gets you on site for all 3 days.  I will be camped at the Kilby Campsite and there all 3 days so be sure and say hi.  

Drop-In & Draw Sessions: Only a few Sessions left till Summer
New people are always welcome.  Beginner to Advanced 

 Monday, June 4 & 18, 10-12pm & 1-3pm.
Expression Art Gallery, Valley Fair Mall, 227 & Lougheed Hwy, Maple Ridge,
Choose a morning or afternoon session. Bring your sketchbook or project and come and work.  I will be happy to give you pointers.  $15 Pre-Registration Required.  Contact Wendy Here. 

Artists reading this also find the following valuable: 
How to Find your Sketchbook Friend - here
Is Your Sketchbook  Ready for You - here
How to Find Your Starting Point in a Drawing - here

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Have a great Artful Day,

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