Monday, January 2, 2012

Transparent watercolor lesson, abstract painting, original art, Elizabeth Chapman

Watercolor on 11" x 14" paper

I created this painting as an example for a class on  basic techniques of working with transparent watercolors that I will be teaching in April here at Ozarks Technical College in Springfield, Mo. I have found that the teaching of the watercolor medium is difficult.  For one thing there needs to be a willingness to go with the flow rather than control it.  Also, there is a process of layering values and colors to create depth that requires patience.  So, with these two things in mind...this first lesson was developed.   With a bit of an abstract twist there are no worries about having to control this medium and you can also see how the process of layering colors works with transparent watercolors.

So here is the first lesson if you would like to try it.

Supplies needed:  140lb. cold press watercolor paper,  if you don't already own tubed watercolors a PRANG watercolor set (preferably the two tray) will work.  A palette and brushes and....lots of water!

Step One:  Make a large stencil of an object. (this will give your painting some realism) As you can see from my painting I used a bottle. Save your cutout it can be used as well.
Step Two:  Place your stencil on the paper and outline it.  Now take your stencil and cut or tear it into at least three pieces.
Step Three:  Take these pieces and move them around (overlapping the drawing is o.k)  Once a pleasing design has been found tape these down.  You can also at any time use the negative space of the stencil. That is the piece that you cut your object from.
Step Four:  Begin painting using  a color that is very light in value, paint plus lots of water!  Paint over the whole paper with this color.  Let dry.  Pull the pieces off and you will have only white shapes left.  Many watercolorist only use the white of their paper for white.  No white paint used.
Step Five:  Repeat step four, taping and overlapping pieces over previous color and anywhere. Paint over these with that same color and value or use another color.  The object is to paint from light to dark.  So, don't get to dark to quick. Let dry. Once again when you take the pieces off you will now see the previous layers of values and colors.
Step Six:  Continue this process of overlapping pieces, painting and letting it dry.  Use your imagination, be creative and have playful fun with it! You can take this as far as you want to. I chose to work with a mostly warm color palette with a bit of cool colors. Also, you don't have to always let the paper dry to take the stencils off.  It is best to let it dry though before applying another layer.
Step Seven:  Work on pulling the original drawing out so that it is somewhat recognizable and you will have some realism.  Hopefully, during the process of painting you have seen for yourself how watercolors can be layered and built up to create depth and your now working a bit more abstractly!
You can see how this layering process is used when painting realistically by viewing some of my earlier floral paintings, click here.

I took it a step further and began playing with some oil pastels (bottom right bottle)and watercolors over them, rubbing the paint back out and found that I really liked that effect.  Feel free to elaborate on your painting.  I wanted to keep it basic so that students could see the basic overall effect, so I stopped.



Paula S In New Mexico said...

Can hardly wait to try this !!!!!

Elizabeth Chapman said...

Awesome! Hope you enjoy it...Paula S

Deb Ammerman said...

I am going to try this! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

Elizabeth Chapman said...

Your welcome...enjoy!!!

Bren said...

Your students are going to have so much fun learning! Thanks for sharing this, looking forward to working with some watercolour something I've not done yet. This also gives me a great idea for doing something new with my grand-daughers :-)

Shayna said...

No doubt!It is really beautiful. You have just done fabulous work.Nice Painting.I love this piece.

Watercolor Lessons