Painting with Carol

Techniques, tips and tricks for watercolours and acrylics

All The Extras

February 26th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Watercolours

If you take up a hobby of any description you will need extra “stuff”. I just love that word “stuff” - I have so much of it much to the disgust of my family. Here’s a quick list of some of the stuff you’ll need for watercolours:

  • Razor blades for scratching highlights which of course we will go in to when we paint together.
  • A fine mist water spray. Chroma has the best one I have found so far. You’ll need it to quickly wet the paper down.
  • Don’t through away your old toothbrush as you can use that for splattering.
  • A synthetic sponge and a natural sea sponge. I often use sponges for different effects.
  • Paper towels and tissues are very much apart of a watercolour artists list of things to have, I couldn’t live without tissues for different effects and blotting up mistakes.
  • A ruling pen. I use this all the time and often I am asked what it is. It can be bought at The Art Scene. My camera has died but I will take a photo of the “Ruling Pen” for all to see when I get it back; I think you will find it self explanatory.
  • An eye dropper for measuring out water when I mix my paints.
  • A soft and hard pencil for quick sketching.
  • Along with a pencil of course goes a pencil sharpener.

I am sure there is so much more. I will enter them in as I think of them.

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Using masking fluid

February 21st, 2008 | Category: Painting techniques, Watercolours

I like to think that everyone can be successful when they start to paint with watercolours, so I introduce art masking fluid with the first painting. There is a school of thought that one should never use masking fluid - that you should be able to introduce light in to a painting with out it.

But you know what? If you are successful with your first painting you are likely to want to continue.

Art masking fluid is a rubber latex solution. It is used to mask out an area you do not wish to paint. For instance, if you would like to paint a rose you would either trace or sketch the rose, then you would carefully block it in with the masking fluid, making sure the paper is covered well. If you can see the paper through the masking fluid, then you will need to add another coat.

Allow it to dry before you apply the required washes over the paper for the background. Masking fluid can be used before any painting has been done - this will ensure that any highlights can be kept white. Masking Fluid is available in a clear or slightly yellow tint and I have even seen it in a blue colour. It can also be introduced at any stage of the painting - providing the surface is thoroughly dry before it is applied.

I like to use the brand Art Spectrum which has a yellow tint to it this makes it easier to see when applying it. Of course, you can buy other good brands of masking fluid at your favourite supplier.

TIPS:

  • Don’t use your good brushes when applying the masking fluid, but use a brush with a good point.
  • Continually condition your brush with liquid detergent before you dip it in the fluid as it is inclined to clog the brush.
  • Leave a small amount of liquid detergent in the brush before applying
  • Wash your brush frequently.

I like to paint over the sketch lines as I find the masking fluid will remove them. It is important that the masking fluid is dry before you remove it - even when it’s dry it will have a wet sticky look so touch it with the tip of your finger to check. Gently rub away the masking fluid with a clean fingertip or an eraser.

Masking fluid can also be used for textured effects and splattering - the list goes on and on there is just so much for you to learn, it is so exciting. I think I will leave that for when we are actually painting a project together.

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Stretching paper and backing board

February 21st, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Painting techniques

I always use a backing board when I am painting. A backing board is a board to which you will tape the watercolour paper so it will need to be larger all the way round than the paper.

The size of the board will depend on the size of your painting - it can be made from hardboard, masonite, plywood or any such wood. When I paint I tend to use quite a lot of water, for my washes, which is a technique called wet-into-wet. Watercolour paper tends to buckle, especially if you use a light weight paper and this is why I recommend using 300 gsm (the grammage or weight of the paper is now universally measured in grams per square metre).

If you are using a light weight paper, however, you will need stretch the paper. The best way to do this is to soak the paper overnight in a bath of water, hold the paper upright to let most of the water run off, then tape or even staple to the board. The paper will shrink; but when dries it will pull tight, which will make it durable and workable.

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Caring for your brushes

February 19th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment

Caring for your brushes is so important. I am still using brushes that I bought ten years ago simply because I look after them.

It is important that you only ever use your watercolour brushes for watercolours. Make sure that your brushes are cleaned properly after you have finished painting. Rinse them in clean water, preferably under a running tap. If you are washing them in a container of clean water, make sure that you are gentle and don’t hit the ferrule (the metal ring at the end of the brush) or you are likely to break off the hairs. Squeeze the water from the brush, making sure you shape the hairs back into a point. If you find the paint is difficult to remove, try using Jo Sonja’s Brush Soap and Conditioner. I find it the best but you could also use a cake of soap. When carrying brushes from place to place, roll them carefully in a tea towel or something similar. I have a paint brush roll that I bought from The Art Scene but you can buy similar products from other art supply stores.

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Brushes

February 16th, 2008 | Category: Art supplies and equipment, Painting techniques

Whether you subscribe to the thinking “you are only as good as your tools” or “a good workman never blames his tools” one thing is certain: a good quality brush will make your life sooo much easier.

Unfortunately, good brushes cost a lot. I mostly use Raphael, a large round sable brush that can cost hundreds of dollars. When I teach at workshops, as I have done for many years, I am asked for a list of requirements for the students to buy, and I often don’t include it in the list as I know, for first time painters, the cost of brushes would be just too expensive. But cheap brushes just won’t hold the paint and you will also find it is difficult for a cheap brush to also hold its ‘point’. So why not ask a loved one for a brush for a birthday present?

The brushes I most often use are:

  • Raphael round brushes - No.7, No.4, No.3
  • I also use a squirrel mix oval wash brush for my washes

…all of which I buy from Art Basics.

If you are on a budget as most of us are, you could try Rekab - a specially designed blend of pure sable hair and synthetic. The blend ensures a strong tip which is ideal for detail work. There are also many other cheaper watercolour brushes around, choices include brushes that are made from other animal hair or synthetic. Most art suppliers will recommend watercolour brushes for you to use.

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Training a new brush

December 28th, 2007 | Category: Painting techniques

When you have a new brush, it may take some time to train it. It usually takes me about a week of solid painting. Do yourself a favour and buy a good brush to begin with - something like a Raphael. I always feel you’re only as good as the brush you’re painting with and if you use a pure sable brush, you don’t have to train it because it automatically does what it’s supposed to. The size of the painting will affect the size of the brush, obviously. I use a number 3 normally.

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I’m back

November 08th, 2007 | Category: On the road, Watercolours, Workshops

I have just returned from a very successful painting tour of Victoria. I taught in Bendigo, Brewster, Geelong, Melbourne and Rosewood. It was the perfect time to go as all the spring and summer flowers are in full bloom - whatever did we do before digital cameras? I have posted some pictures on Flickr but I have also pasted them in here so you can find them easily.

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