Adventures in watercolour

Well, that was fun... not. 

A few nights ago night there was a sharp crack! as the gum tape separated itself from the stretching board. Very spectacular. Never underestimate the tension that stretched paper can create! It was a very good reminder of why you need a rigid board. Not sure why the tape gave way. Maybe too much or too little water and the weather has been extremely dry here recently.

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The sad thing was the painting was ruined anyway. Unsightly blotches had appeared on a particularly stubborn wash of paynes grey. The grey was from my Sennelier range (they are very high staining) and combined with the this particular paper made it impossible to fix short of sanding, a legitimate technique that wouldn't work in this case. I was stumped how they happened until I started the next version. I had simply tapped the paper a little hard when dabbing it with a sponge. That slight impact was enough to change the surface and affect the wash.

 

New project

I am starting a new multi-painting project. The final version will be watercolour, but I thought I would share some of the design process before I start painting.

I will be using 300 gsm, A4 watercolour paper (Arches, 100% cotton) and at 6 bucks a sheet I don't want to take any chances with stuff-ups! There is always a chance that something will go wrong and watercolour can be very unforgiving, so I am doing quite a bit of planning for each image.

To start, I create a basic 3D render of the scene, very basic. This is to get the general placement and shadows of each element. I print the render on A4 presentation paper and overlay it with a sheet of good quality tracing paper. This is where the drawing starts.

The image will be transferred from the tracing paper to the watercolour paper using the fairly standard method of chalk or graphite on the back and a hard, sharp pencil. One of the benefits of this method is: if I completely stuff-up the painting I always have the pre-sketch to start again.

Those who have seen my work before might recognise the image on the left... Yes, I am finally going to tell the story of what that giant yellow airship has been doing floating from location to location. 

The pen fanciers might notice my lovely Rotring 800 series 2mm pencil - yes, you can still get them!