Category Archives: experiment

skinny-dipping / watercolor abstract

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I bought raw Sienna, burnt Sienna and cobalt blue. This is a test of transparency and how the colors look overlapping and blending. I made it fun by doing a skinny-dipping abstract. The colors look better in real life than they do in this photo. A big part of improving my watercolors is to do random color swatches until I’m more familiar with the paint. It might seem like a huge waste of time and paper, but every step counts toward the goal of mastering the medium, which could take years, so there’s no rush, or limit on supplies I’ll go through. Now I know I’ll enjoy using these colors together and I like the blends I got.

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Spirit Horse Head in Clouds

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It’s a clouds experiment. I can’t tell if it looks like clouds to the viewer or not. If it looks like something else, that’s what it is. I painted it in Plein air from my balcony with watercolor and the clouds were moving. I used masking fluid on my fan brush and white oil paint stick first to block out some white and to see if I could make a soft and fluid cloud texture. When it was dry I rubbed off the masking fluid with an eraser.

The horse is another drawing with a black oil paint stick taped to a yardstick to make it fun.

I’m just goofing around at home with the horses for models and trying different things with watercolors but I’m going to get back out in plein air tomorrow and get back to the landscape next.

The weather is improving.  YEA!

Spirit Horse / watercolor

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I was trying to make a ghostly transparent look with this experiment. I used masking fluid on the horse and spattered rubbing alcohol on the background. It was fun. I might do another ghost horse. Why wait till Oct? Spooky subjects are fun all year round.IMG_2307

This is my finished charcoal sketch that I started earlier this week, as seen on my previous blog post, when it was kind of rough. I’d like to go abstract with it but I feel like I need to do a tight sketch first.

By the time I finished the watercolor I probably have 7 or 8 hours in this one experiment, including the time I spent sketching, transferring it to watercolor paper then going into it with masking fluid and paint. That’s not including the times I had a fan blowing on it between layers of paint. That might seem like a long time to put into an experiment, but I learned a thing or two that I can use in the future. The more times I draw a subject the easier it gets.

Green Horse on Orange

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To go a little more abstract this time, I didn’t draw it with charcoal or pencil first. I couldn’t decide how to go about it, then just went with the old blob in a rough  shape method, like I would with charcoal, only with paint. First I put a glaze of cadmium yellow on the whole paper and let it dry. Then I sprayed water on it  and tried to make it evenly damp. I dabbed up the puddles with a paper towel. The paper warped like crazy. Then I blobbed in the general shape of the horse with green and lifted some of the color back out.

The red color, opera, looks like a bright orange over the cad yellow. I did a test strip to pick my colors and liked the colors I got when Veridian green mix with opera. And they both looked good on top of the cad yellow.

Then just to mess it all up, I splashed rubbing alcohol all over it. I held it in front of a fan till it was almost dry then darkened up the green paint with some ultramarine blue to paint the sketchy lines.

That was fun. And good practice on things like, the right wetness of the paper, trying to control a bleed, drawing with a paintbrush which I can’t erase, etc.

 

Blue Horse, Red Sky, Yellow Grass watercolor

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This time I wanted to let the horizon line bleed. It was out of control because of the paper warping and I let it go. For a second I considered trying to stop it, then I said, let it bleed.

It was fun watercolor practice. I think I’ll do another horse. There are so many possibilities with how to go about watercolor, I’m just kind of playing around. Play is a good way to learn.

I have a song stuck in my head. A few days ago I watched” Bohemian Rhapsody” on HBO. It was good. I love Queen, and of course, Freddy Mercury. The movie had a short clip from the” I Want To Break Free” video where they’re dressed up in drag and Freddy comes in pushing a vacuum cleaner. I remember when it was on MTV. I thought it was brilliant and I loved the song. So I had to look it up on Spotify to get my fix. I Want To Break Free might be my favorite Queen song. Didn’t Freddy have an amazing voice? What a great inspiration he was.

Red Horse, Yellow Sky, Blue Grass

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I was putting this off because it was kind of difficult and I didn’t have the time to concentrate on it. First I had to redraw my horse sketch from a few weeks ago onto watercolor paper and make corrections. That took a couple hours. Then I couldn’t decide what colors to use. Finally I decided it would be best to start with the background and do the horse last like I would if it was an oil painting. Too many decisions! I tackled  the sky, grass and horse as separate experiments, using two Inktense pencils on the wet blue  paper for the grass. It was kind of fun pushing the paint around to make it as even as I could on the horse then lifting out paint with a paper towel where I wanted highlights. Now that I got one horse sketch finished I might try again with a different model horse. It’s still too hot out for me to enjoy painting in Plein air unless I get out at the crack of dawn.

Rose / Inktense pencils practice

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It was so nice out there today. The botanical garden had a lot of visitors when I went out to sketch this morning. I smelled the roses as I was walking in and remembered one I loved last year, the Crimson Bouquet. I wanted to find the brightest red because I’m from Lancaster Co. PA. the red rose town. York, on the other side of the Susquehanna is the white rose town.

I can’t tell if the background is working or not, but I wanted to do the minimum for it.

I’m looking forward to my art adventure in New Mexico in 2 months. I want to take all my art supplies with me on the trip but it’s not practical. I don’t know what kind of drawing or painting I’ll want to do when I see the Ghost Ranch. If I take a lot of art supplies I’ll have a bigger job unloading my trunk every night when I stop at a motel. I’m definitely  taking my oil paint supplies and I’ll have to prime a couple canvases in Aug, but I’d also like to take my Inktense pencils and a watercolor sketchbook. In the meantime, if I can sketch a few flowers while standing in the shade this summer, that’s good practice. I might have better luck when I try to do a landscape with the Inktense pencils out West.

 

self portrait as ghost / mixed media

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ok that was fun. I  had an inspiration to draw myself with white and silver oil paint sticks on watercolor paper then use the same blue watercolor all over top of the paint sticks to see if I could make a transparent effect. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor. I hope it looks ghostly. If it’s working I might use the effect again some time.

As I was doing this, I wondered if there’s a face morphing program that an artist could use to make a ghostly look. I saw an app that could put your face on a hot dog! It was a scream! I think I remember the beginning of face morph programming. Was it when Michael Jackson did his video where he sang, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white? He had good looking people of different races and sexes blending into each other. Now you can do it too. Those guys who code computers have to be geniuses.

Do computer programs have an imagination? Would they give you a ghost if they weren’t programmed to have a ghost as an option? I think they are limited to what the programmer could put in which isn’t the whole brain of an artist. They have a limited number of choices to work with for the creative process, where my brain has limited experience, but more than an app. As always, feel free to opine.

Sea and Sky / from memory

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This is my third try to represent a wave, painting at home from memory with my Inktense watercolor pencils. It’s on the back of a flop experiment. That’s why it has some smudges showing in the sky.  It’s another experiment, this time trying out masking fluid applied with my fan brush to mask out the white clouds, and  white oil paint stick used to mask out white foam on the wave.

I’m guessing which colors from the set of pencils to use after finally finishing with the big project of testing each color pencil by making washes from the darkest concentration of the color to the most washed out lightest version of the color.  That’s why I call that  that exercise  a gray scale. If black is 100% and white is 0% using gray, when you do a gray scale of a color you can estimate the value of the color. Some of the colors don’t get any darker than 30%. I have 3 pencils that go to black in the set, which is good.

Now I need to go back to the beach to see if the colors I picked are close to the colors of nature, or if I can make a better color.

It’s going to get unseasonably hot out there today. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the beach today or wait till tomorrow when it might be more comfortable weather. In the summer, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, it’s too hot to paint in plein air in the sun. In the winter, I have to wait until afternoon when it warms up enough to go out. That way I’m not suffering for art.

The time I spent goofing around at home with these pencils is going to help my chance of success when I seriously try to do a nice finished painting. You learn a lot through play. You can take a class and a good teacher can help immensely  but you still have to work on your own for a long time to get anywhere with art, at least that’s my experience.

 

untitled / watercolor pencils

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I wish I could be an abstract expressionist. Yesterday I read a blog, Vin de Vie Wine of Life, by Sarah Abraham. about an artist Oliver Lee Jackson who’s work is hanging in the National Gallery until Sept. 15. His paintings are so beautiful. At my art school, YAA, they discouraged us from that path. We had to plan our paintings. Abstract expressionism is painting from your subconscious, if  I understand it correctly, and we were expressly forbidden to do that. I distinctly remember our esteemed teacher Fitzkee saying , “Don’t clean out the cobwebs from your brain on your canvas, no one wants to see that.” I understood Fitzkee’s point of view.

But last night I just wanted to have a little fun with my Inktense pencils after working on that academic exercise for hours. The old school exercises can’t hurt if I’m trying to see the colors I can make with the pencils and learn to use them, but is scribbling blindly bad for my art?

I don’t really want the viewer to see the cobwebs or worse things in my brain. I thought abstract expressionism was for the artist to communicate their emotions to the viewer, and I’m not feeling at all emotional these days. (Thankgawd for less of that)  Does this  little play painting speak to you at all? Should I title it, “I Find Myself Amusing” ?