Thursday, 22 September 2011

More watercolours, and a trip to look forward to

While I'm quite particular when it comes to the quality of my paper and paints, I'm usually rather careless when it comes to brushes. I usually use quite cheap brushes for my acrylic paintings, often actually just pastry brushes from supermarket. They tend to loose their hairs quite frequently, which you then have to pick off your canvas, but apart from that they work perfectly, and I like their rough texture. Also, if you have a tendecy of not beeing overcareful with cleaning your brushes, like me, you won't feel too guilty about throwing them away once the hairs are sticking together too badly.

While this works very well with acrylics, watercolours are a different matter. I've always wanted a real 'squirrel hair brush' (made of tail hairs of Russian and Canadian squirrels). They're very fine brushes for watercolour, but also not cheap, and I've just never been into watercolours enough to justify spending the money on one of them. So on those few occasions I did use my watercolours, I usually just used a cheap synthetic brush. But a few months ago, in Strassbourg, I finally bought a squirrel hair brush (they seem to cost much less nowadays than 10+ years ago).

And I LOVE it. My, it's such a difference! It soaks up masses of water, and it's just so perfect for painting. And when you clean it, and shake it to get rid of excess water, it just so beautifully falls back into it's perfectly pointed shape. Always.

 I like to try out and get to know all the colours in my new watercolour box, mixing them together and putting them on paper in various ways. Watercolours behave quite differently than acrylics in various ways. My box contains 24 half pans of colours, so there are lots of possibilities. Although actually, buying a box ready filled with colours might not necessarily be the best idea. What you might want to do is to just buy an empty metal box (or plastic, but I think the metal ones are just so much nicer), and fill them with individually bought pans of the colours you prefer. I only bought this box because it was a special offer, but it might not be my last one... :)

I started a little painting on Sunday before last. I was just having fun trying out some techniques, such as scattering salt on to the wet paint. Exploring all the different techniques in watercolour painting is really quite exciting, as they are very different to acrylic ones. The orangey/red shapes are supposed to be tulips, like the tulip field I'd painted a few weeks ago with PanPastels.

Well, I've mentioned two incidents that inspired and encouraged me to take up watercolours again in an earlier post. But there was a third one. Back in spring, in Vienna, I was walking back from the National Library when a book in the window of a book shop caught my eye. It was about cityscapes painted in watercolour, and I liked the modern style of the painting on the cover. I went inside to have a closer look at the book, and saw that there was an exhibition of the works of the artist on the upper floor. I liked the paintings a lot. That, really, was the kind of style I wanted to do with watercolours, not the traditional flowers. I didn't buy the book there, but back home, I looked up the artist on the internet, and saw that he offered a number of workshops. This was just what I wanted to do! I decided to leave it till after my sumer holiday though, and then it took me another two months until I finally signed up for a workshop, as I was worried that my watercolour skills weren't quite good enough yet. But two weeks ago, I did it. And so, later this year, I'llpback my box of watercolours, my brushes and papers into my suitcase and take the train to Salzburg (always wanted to go there!), and I'm sooo looking forward to it. And in the meantime, I'll be very very busy practising sketching, drawing and watercolour painting (and buying some more supplies :) ).

1 comment:

  1. Russian and Canadian squirrel tails? That takes research dedication to a whole new level. How many other animals did they try? How many countries did they visit? How many combinations of squirrel? It's quite a funny image of a studious man dipping different squirrels into paint (as long as you imagine they are still alive!) It does look like a perfect paintbrush though, and I can say with confidence that your standard of painting definitely justifies it.

    I like that new poppy painting. I'm sure if I did it they would look like rather messy peaches, but you've used the characteristics of watercolour to create the the perfect edges of poppy petals, and the texture that resembles fine tissue paper.

    I've had a look at that artist's work and I can immediately see why you were so attracted to his course, but I'm quite envious of your trip to Salzburg. Vienna and Salzburg in one year - two cities in my top ten to visit, though more because of the musical connections for me.

    I can't wait to see some more of your art work, and I think this current focus on watercolour is particularly interesting for you. I get the impression that you have a high attention to detail and a dedication to precision and refined technique, yet the nature of watercolour is much harder to control and encourages a more carefree approach. It is more about light and colour than form - at least that is how I see it - and it's great to see you completely embracing this challenge, and how it is liberating your creativity.

    More please!