Thursday, September 25, 2008

Transfering a drawing to watercolor paper

Question: How do you transfer a drawing without a light box or window. Do you ever use graphite paper? If so, specifics please on it. Also, do you erase your drawing after you have finished your painting? I have never heard this addressed. Thank you, Linda /CA

There are many types of graphite paper available in art supply stores. If I do use a transfer paper I like the Saral brand the best. Because Saral Transfer Paper is wax free it gives the advantage of erasing like pencil without any smear or smudge.
Some artists like to make their own transfer paper using a graphite stick on tracing paper sealed with lighter fluid.

Do I erase my pencil lines when I finish a painting?
Yes, I do... most of the time. That's because for the most part if I do use a pencil line it's for a guide line or position rather than an edge. My drawing is not intended to be a part of the painting.
That's me ... and my personal preference.
There is nothing wrong with leaving pencil lines in the finished work. There are many great artists who do fantastic line drawings on their paper prior to adding watercolor to their work. Erasing the pencil lines would diminish the impact of their paintings.

For me personally, if I do want to transfer a drawing to my watercolor paper I prefer to use a light box or window rather than transfer paper.

Like so many things we do as artists, we will try this method or that method and adapt the one that works best for us and the way we paint. Not that one way is right or another wrong.... it is just what method works best for each of us.

I did draw before I painted when I began my watercolor journey. Along the way my painting evolved into more of a freehand style painting without drawing first. I do still draw some for my students when I'm teaching. For the record!

I hope that helps answer your questions.
Happy Painting!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Paint Colors for Painting Dry Sand and Wet Sand in watercolor

QUESTION: Dear Susie,You are so talented. I am humbled by your work. Thank you for sharing your experience. I just bought your brush and can't wait until it gets here. What color(s) do you use to paint dry sand and wet sand? Kris / Florida

SUSIE'S REPLY: Hi Kris - Thanks for the kind words! I love what I do and I love to share.

The answer to your question on colors for painting dry sand and wet sand would depend on the location of the beach and the type of sand found there. It could be white or tan or black or golden or any combination of these.

Just as you hair looks darker when its wet, wet sand will usually be a darker value of the same hue/color you use for dry sand. Plus keep in mind that wet sand will often be reflective of the sky color too. Those reflections will vary in color depending on the lighting conditions and the time of day.

Granulating pigments add a slight texture that helps with painting the illusion of sand and is even more effective if the granulating pigments are used on rough watercolor paper.

I suspect you want me to give you the names of some colors you might try for painting sand. :)
And I'll be happy to name a few that will work well for painting sand.

One relatively new color for me in my paint box is Goethite Brown Ochre (Daniel Smith)
I found that works well for a mid value warm golden sand that doesn't look too yellowish. I like mixing it with Indanthrone Blue or French Ultramarine for a nice blue gray. It has a nice density that lends to granulation when used on either cold pressed or rough papers. (While I haven't tried it on hot pressed paper yet, I believe with the properties of the pigment would give some nice granulation on hot pressed too.)
  • Quoted from Daniel Smith:
    Found in iron deposits nearly worldwide, Goethite (Brown Ochre) is named after Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and mineralogist.
    Our unusually pure pigment is mined in Russia, south of Moscow. Rich and warm, DANIEL SMITH Goethite is a dark tea color in masstone and washes out to a rich, warm tan. In washes, it displays intriguing granulation, with pools of light and dark in every brushstroke. Like all colors derived from the earth, it is lightfast and permanent…a lasting connection to the planet and the creative forces of nature
Goethite Brown Ochre is included in a limited edition Surf and Sand Triad offered by Daniel Smith earlier this summer. (2008)

Used alone or mixed together here are some additional watercolor pigments/paints you might want to try.

  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre
  • Lunar Earth
    (DS) A transparent, non-staining pigment that resembles Burnt Sienna in color but separates dramatically. Lightfast and extremely versatile, Lunar Earth shares pigment properties with Lunar Black and creates similar amazing textures.
    Explore their radical reticulating qualities separately, then try painting Lunar Earth into a wet Lunar Black wash. An instant beach-sand and pebbles-magically appears.
  • Lunar Violet
    (DS)With extreme granulation it’s capable of creating a rugged weathered look of years gone by, mix with other granulating pigment to create a sandy texture.
  • Burnt Bronzite Genuine
    (DS)Burnt Bronzite Genuine pushes the honey tone of Bronzite Genuine to a more coppery hue. Both deeper brown and more orange, it's ideal for portrait work as it easily produces a wide range of flesh tones. Like Bronzite Genuine, it gets a subtle lustrous sparkle from iron oxide.
  • Bronzite Genuine
    (DS) It's a warm golden-brown in masstone - somewhere between ochre and sienna, but distinctly different - that lets down into pale washes of soft, always warm, sandy beige. In a wash on cold press or rough paper, the brown settles out of this intriguing special-effect color.
  • Yavapai Genuine
  • Hematite
    (DS) ground from a heavy silvery-black mineral rich in iron. In a thick wash, the heavier particles settle, creating bold granulation. In a thin wash, it is a soft dove gray.
  • Hematite Violet
    (DS) produces the same splendid texture as the standard Hematite, but the background hue is a warm violet-brown.
  • Transparent Brown Oxide
Keep in mind that the paint varies from brand to brand even though the paint has the same color name. [The descriptions (in italics) above are quoted from Daniel Smith.]

I hope these give you some ideas for painting sand, wet or dry.
Have fun!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Staining Watercolor Pigments

Hi Susie, I've been painting for 6 years and I think I'm finally over the hump where I don't need to classify myself as a rank beginner. (smile) I now have a ton of watercolor paints. How can I determine which are staining or non staining? And could you also tell me how to know if they are transparent or opaque? Thanks, Wanda/ NC

Hi Wanda, There is a simple test you can do with each of your many tubes of watercolor so you will know which are transparent vs opaque or somewhere in between. You can test each color individually or use a larger piece of paper to test each group of colors by their hues. Using a wide permanent black marker or India ink draw a line approximately 1/4 inch wide for each color you are testing. Add a small amount of water to dilute each paint so that it spreads easily being careful not to add too much water. Allow the paint to dry. If it is transparent you will be able to see the sharp black line through the paint without any residual paint sitting on top of the line. If a paint is semi-opaque you will see only a small amount of pigment on the black line. If the paint is opaque you will see more of a chalky looking residue from the paint over the black line.

There is another simple test for determining if a pigment is staining or non staining. You will find the explanations and the illustrations for both of these tests (Testing Watercolor Paints) on my website.

Good questions! Thanks for asking!