Sunday, January 30, 2022

"Starry Sky" (watercolor on paper; 12" x 9")

The following is the description of what we did in the first week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA). 
The main business of the class was painting "Starry Sky" to practice the wet on wet variegated wash. We wetted the paper thoroughly and evenly (remove excess water), then painted from the top with ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, narrow strips of permanent alizarin crimson and pale winsor lemon, and finished the wash with pale winsor blue. We dried the paper (bone dry) and repeated the process twice more (if your washes are not dark enough, you can repeat the process as many times as needed). In the second wash, I added the violet mixture (ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson) at the top and continued with the rest of the colors. In the third wash, I added a little bit of winsor lemon to the pale winsor blue to make it a little turquoise.

When the paper was dry, we painted the land shape (about 20% of the painting at the bottom; this is a sky painting) on dry paper with the dark mixture (ultramarine blue, crimson, and winsor blue), the yellow green mixture (winsor lemon and a little winsor blue), and the same mixture as the first strip (with more crimson). Each stroke was put down quickly and decisively with a flat brush, making sure the next stroke went down while the previous stroke was still damp. This way you can create the fuzzy, soft-edged wash.

Finally, we added the stars with the white gouache splatter. You need a heavy cream consistency of gouache (too much water, it dries like a veil; too little water, you cannot splatter). Please practice first on a scrap piece of paper and when you are ready, mask the land shape with a loose sheet of paper and splatter at your pleasure. Avoid big bombs! Splattering takes practice (what doesn't!), and when used skillfully, it adds a beautiful texture (snow, stars, fall foliage, sandy soil, grass, etc.) with white gouache or paints.

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