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A how-to question: watercolour

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So I had my watercolour class tonight and I showed my teacher a painting by Eyvind Earle (this one http://www.pinterest.com/pin/287386019941990853/). She wasn't 100% sure how he'd done it and experimented with various methods. Although some looked bloomin' marvellous, they didn't look the same as his. Anyone know exactly how he did this style?

My teacher tried putting colour on, then removing it with a brush to create the white areas, which looked good but softer than his lines. She tried water droplets, moving them through the colour, which looked amazing but softer again. I tried a colour outline to the tree trunk, then adding colour around it, which left a very clear trunk but the branches weren't as clear as his.

Anyone?!
#1 - October 09, 2013, 05:48 PM

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I'd guess he painted water on first, then the color. But--the whole paper probably wasn't wet, just a particular spot. I wonder if maybe some masking was used as well? (Like rubber cement over the parts not being worked on, to leave spaces for the branches?)

One thing I've noticed about watercolor is that the paper makes the most dramatic difference. I wonder if that was a factor as well.
#2 - October 09, 2013, 06:07 PM

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I thought masking fluid too, but my teacher was adamant it wasn't. We tried wet on wet but it doesn't give those clean outlines.

I wonder if he painted a soft wash around the tree trunks first, to give that outline, let it dry and then went full on with the deeper colour? That might provide that tidy outline with those beautiful flowy parts where the leaves are.

This is what I LOVE watercolour. It can be infuriatingly tricky to get what you want, and then like utter magic when you do!
#3 - October 09, 2013, 06:25 PM

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If you don't think masking fluid was used (all are not created equal. I have some from Daniel Smith that can be applied very intricately. The stuff I had before you couldn't work with at all.) It's possible he may have started with paint on dry paper. If you make a hard stroke with a loaded brush, then use a brush wet with water to pull away from the hard edge of the stroke, you end up with a neat effect. You could then wet sections and make blooms, etc. You'd need a lot of patience (or a heat gun) to do this method, as you'd want each area to dry before moving on or they'd all run together. I know parafin wax can be used successfully as well to mask out white areas, but I haven't tried it.
#4 - October 09, 2013, 06:31 PM
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I also thought masking fluid, my teacher didn't! But not everyone is right all the time, maybe she's just wrong?

So if i did it with fluid, I'd do a lighter wash first and then the blooms? One of the reasons she thought it couldn't be fluid was because the white lines of the branches blend in, they don't stop suddenly, they're quite fuzzy. But that would be doable if he removed the fluid/masking tape before doing the blooms.

Here are some more examples of his stuff: http://www.eyvindearle.com/Products.aspx?type=watercolor&page=1

I am looking forward to experimenting tomorrow with this! The one thing we didn't try was masking fluid because she was so adamant... maybe I'll have something to teach my teacher next class!

Thank you oh wise ones!
#5 - October 09, 2013, 06:40 PM

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But you can soften the lines after removing the masking fluid.  and yes, you can apply mask after an initial wash. But it does look more like just a very careful patient piece. If you layered carefully and let it dry between applications, I think this could be done without fluid.

I don't know for sure how he did it, I don't have a lot of experience with that type of technique. Beautiful piece tho!
#6 - October 09, 2013, 07:05 PM
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Try dropping sea salt into wet color. Scatter it lightly; clumping the salt will give a harder, spottier look. Table salt will make a weaker version. Leave it alone until the area has completely dried, then dust off the salt.
#7 - October 09, 2013, 08:30 PM
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 08:33 PM by Vonna »
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Try dropping sea salt into wet color. Scatter it lightly; clumping the salt will give a harder, spottier look. Table salt will make a weaker version. Leave it alone until the area has completely dried, then dust off the salt.

Salt does lovely things but it's really the smooth lines we had trouble emulating, specifically the smaller branches. I am going to experiment... Will post results!
#8 - October 10, 2013, 04:26 AM

That is beautiful.  Yes I would guess that he used some sort of masking fluid, at least for the hard lines of the white trunks.  I think the soft billowy blooms are made from a process similar to one that I use.  It would go something like this:

So you have the masking fluid on. Then you create a really wet layer of paint for the blooms.  Then you go in with a fluid like ox gall or rubbing alcohol (others probably work as well, you could experiment) and "draw" into the wet paint with a small pointy object.  That works better than a brush.  I usually use a bamboo skewer thingy- like what you use to make kabobs. The fluid you "draw" in disperses the wet color that is already there and it creates organic white spaces- that gives it that ethereal look of the white branches bleeding out into the blooms.  As it dries you can continue to add and draw into the wet paint but it will reach a point of semi-dryness where it ceases to work.  Getting that method to work the way you want takes some practice and trial and error! It is kind of a twist on the wet in wet technique.  Happy experimenting!!  :love5:

Rachel
#9 - October 10, 2013, 06:38 AM
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 09:42 AM by Rachel Parris »

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My first inclination would also be masking fluid as well. But the color fades so gracefully with each limb. Could it be possible that watercolor pencils were used the draw out the outside edges, then a wet brush applied carefully to pull the pigment outward? I was also thinking a semi-wet paper and watercolor pencils  combined with paints. (I checked to see when watercolor pencils were invented and it was 1930, not sure when this painting was rendered though).

Arty, I may try that brand of masking fluid as I've had difficulty with mine.

That is a beautiful image, and the technique looks amazing.
#10 - October 10, 2013, 09:09 AM
« Last Edit: October 10, 2013, 09:41 AM by Cynthia Kremsner »
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Ooh, ox gall?! Loving the mysterious sound of that! Do I have to kill an ox to get some?! Never heard of it. Off to Google...

Reading about the artist, he was/is very famous. He worked for Disney on Sleeping Beauty, among others.

Watercolour pencils, yes, that might help too. Will try everything once I've secured my ox...
#11 - October 10, 2013, 09:55 AM

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Update: ox gall, eew, but sounds very interesting. So far none of my attempts look anything close, with or without masking fluid. I experimented a bit with washing up liquid (which someone said worked like a really bad version of ox gall) and that was interesting and quite beautiful... which makes me think it well could be ox gall that he used.

I'll scan later and post...
#12 - October 10, 2013, 10:26 AM

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Cool . . . can't wait to see it. And I may just have to do some scientific trials with ox gall too.
#13 - October 10, 2013, 12:44 PM
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I've never tried ox gall, but it's something I've wanted to experiment with. I have tried the salt (coarse and fine) and that was pretty cool.
#14 - October 10, 2013, 12:45 PM
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Artemesia - You have to pick up the Tao of Watercolor by Jeanne Carbonetti. She explains how to do things like this and a whole lot more. It seems like something Jeanne did in the book by wetting all but a certain area of the painting (the white areas are dry) and then letting the whole thing dry. It looks like there is some spattering and a full body wash over the wet glazes. Possibly some white spattered onto the painting around a few of the trees.

Jeanne has a lot of tools she suggests people buy for watercolor... guess what one thing she doesn't have on the list? Masking Fluid! I personally have trouble with it myself. One thing is getting the stupid stuff to go where it's supposed to... it never does 100%. I have not successfully used a large amount of it without it ruining (or at least damaging) my paintings. Not to say that it's not useful, but maybe it's only good in small doses? The best way I've found to apply it is with a pen and nib, so it doesn't ruin what you apply it with. I'm strongly considering leaving it out of my process. It's too much risk and I seem to do okay without it. I wish I had more time to experiment with it, though!
#15 - October 12, 2013, 01:25 AM

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Love the sound of the Tao of Watercolour. I sometimes think watercolour is like meditation. At least it teaches me patience!

I love masking fluid for certain things. It's ideal for masking areas that have already been painted for example. I like using it for blades of grass - paint a green wash, put blades of grass on with the fluid, then paint over in a darker shade of green, and repeat. I know some artists are 'purist' about these things and believe that white should only ever be the white of the paper and that masking fluid is a no-no. But in reality it can be very useful. I use it for stars in a night-sky for example, snowflakes, and other tiny weeny white round dots that would be virtually impossible otherwise.

Anyway, finally here are some of my attempts. Nothing like the original but at least I think it's pretty clear he may or may not have used masking fluid. 
#16 - October 12, 2013, 07:32 AM

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No masking fluid.
#17 - October 12, 2013, 07:33 AM

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And this one was with dish detergent. I didn't do a tree but the effect is pretty cool!
#18 - October 12, 2013, 07:33 AM

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Dani, that book sounds great!

I never had any luck with masking fluid until I got the Daniel Smith. It even comes with fine nibs to use and you can draw with it. I've had really good results, but I only use it for small detail work, I've not tried masking big areas.

The type of books I'm working on right now are very graphic novel like, so lots of ink and paint work, but not a lot of artistic experimentation. But I would love to try these techniques as I do hope to be able to do pictures books as well at some point.

Siski, those still look fab, if not totally the same!
#19 - October 12, 2013, 09:13 AM
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It's clear that he may or may not have used it . . .  :grin3. Both are very  nice. I especially like your dishwashing detergent experiment. It almost looks like a microscope slide of some specimen. Maybe it would look cool for close up snow on the ground. Thank you for sharing about how you use the masking fluid for painting grass blades.

My masking fluid experience is that when it's rubbed off, it takes a lot of what is painted under it. It's probably because the brand I have isn't the best . . . the only one offered at the craft store since I was in a bit of a hurry.

I've used the salt technique often. The best results were when I got the paper extremely wet, let it soak in for a couple of minutes, applied a lot of pigment to my brush and loosely painted three colors in squiggly fashion then threw on Kosher salt. I did it quickly so the salt could conduct it's magic before anything dried. I like the effect of Kosher salt much better than regular table salt.

Thanks for sharing this Franzilla.  :paint
#20 - October 12, 2013, 09:16 AM
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Franzilla, thanks for starting such an interesting thread!  :grin3 and sharing the results was priceless!  :applause love bother results!

Dani, thank you for suggesting Tao of watercolor! Will order one today.

Thanks all!
#21 - October 12, 2013, 09:16 PM

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This is a super cool thread! It makes me want to do more traditional water color as I have been doing a lot of digital water color on my iPad because I find the production rate to be faster (no dry time) but nothing compares to the beauty of the traditional method! I'm not sure I ever mastered the traditional methods anyways! You have so much talent Franzilla!!!! It is very refreshing and inspiring!

 :yeah
#22 - October 27, 2013, 08:53 PM

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