Friday, July 30, 2010

Water Hyacinth

30 x 36 inches
watercolor on paper

I love big paintings. If not for the factor of the heaviness of the frame, I'd like to try painting a 4 x 8 or 4 x 12 feet watercolor. That's the size of the plywood sheets we have here that I can use as a backing. Of course, there's the expense of the paint to consider but if I get a paint sponsor and have an affordable alternative for framing, I may just go for it. 

I usually choose the flower I'll be painting according to the color I'm fixated in at the moment. I can't really say I was in a blue mood because people tend to associate blue with sadness. When I'm painting, I can't remember not being happy or not enjoying it. From the sketching, preparing the paper, transferring the drawing to painting, the purposefulness is calming and gives me a happy feeling. I like challenges and figuring how things work. The problem is once I get how it works, I can be distracted by other projects... other colors. Hence, the several months that elapsed between start and finish. But I think it did good too. The colors sank really well into the paper. When I applied the finishing touches, the previous washes didn't get disturbed by the brush passages. I wasn't worried about environmental damage, I kept the painting well protected in the meantime. I remembered it when I realized I needed the backing for another painting I'm planning. I think not seeing it for a long time helped me see it in a new light too and I was able to solve things that have stumped me before.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Step-by-step of my Oriental Painting-Inspired-Cloisonne

First oriental painting inspired cloisonne.
20 x 28 inches (approx)

I was able to take pictures of the painting in various stages and here is how it was done.

As with most of my paintings, I draw everything beforehand on Manila paper.  It allows me the freedom to move elements about, erasing and re-drawing several times, without fear of ruining the watercolor paper's surface.

I first map out all the major forms and design with pencil.

I would refine the drawings and ink them when once I am satisfied with the results.

Once the whole drawing has been inked, I proceed with transferring the drawing onto the watercolor paper.  

Shown above, the transferred drawing with its first application of gold acrylic.  While you can do the gold outlines last, I prefer to do it first because the first application is usually the messiest.  There is more tendency to make mistakes.  I use a ruling pen to apply thinned gold arylic and find that sometimes when the nib catches on the paper, your hand can jerk and go out of line or the paint would suddenly blot.  Acrylics are correctable while still wet but are almost permanent when dry.  Because I'm not worrying about watercolor paints already in place, I can erase mistakes easily by re-wetting the area with clear water and blotting with a tissue paper until the errant acrylic is erased.  The succeeding applications of gold outline gets easier because the ruling pen's nib glides onto the smoother first outline application.

In case you are wondering what a ruling pen is.  It functions much like a fountain pen and is used by draftsmen to create straight lines.  It is designed for use with inks which goes into the open barrel (space between the prongs).  You adjust the thickness of the line by rotating the wheel tighter or looser which narrows or widens the nib's opening.  You can use liquid acrylics with this pen.  Picture shows a recycled craft pen I use to inject acrylic into the barrel.   Use acrylic medium or water to get the right consistency for the gold acrylic so it will flow through the nib. 

Next, I would apply the watercolor.  The hard part for me is how to keep everything stylized and less detailed.
I try to imagine how enamel looks like and for each of the outlined spaces, I try to use only a single color and enhance the illusion of it being made from enamel, by applying a darker shade of the color next to where it touches the outlines only.  Next would be the re-application of the gold outlines.
I apply a minimum of 4 to 5 layers of gold acrylic to get that embossed look.  Requires a lot of patience but the result is worth it.   Make sure to dry completely in between.  Despite the thickness, the adherence between the layers is well and the finished painting even withstands shipping and storing in a rolled position.
So that is how it is done.

Thank you for looking