31 Jul 2012

Using acrylics as watercolors

Acrylic is the only painting medium that can be all mediums - it can act like watercolor, it can act like oils, and it has it's own innate properties - Andrew Hamilton

Recently I've been experimenting with using acrylic paints as watercolors mainly because I have lots of acrylic paint lying around and I haven't got much watercolor paint left. The results have been quite interesting.
I first tried mixing up a few test paints to see how well they would flow and whether the colors would change when they dried. The test was done on a scrap of watercolor paper and was just some rough markings and a few test patches to try blending the colors. The first paint I mixed up had bubbles in it which I didn't think much about until I actually painted the bubbles onto the paper and they dried as bubbly marks. That was unexpected and I'm not sure why there were bubbles at all, I guess acrylics need more mixing in the water than the watercolor paint and this causes the bubbles.
I found the acrylic paint stayed very vibrant when watered down and I didn't notice much of a color shift when they dried either.

For some reason though, and I can't put my finger on exactly why, I prefer using the watercolor paint.The two paintings done here were both done using watered down acrylics and I'm happy enough with the results, but I just have this niggling feeling that I would have made a better job using watercolor.

I've decided to keep using the acrylics for now though. I want to explore layering washes more and I'm hoping that whatever it is that I don't like about using the acrylics this way will become clearer with more practice.

On a positive note, I bought some .1 sized pens and I'm very happy with how fine they are compared to the .4 that I used on the Thrush and Kingfisher.

Have a great week! :)

16 Jul 2012

Watercolor experiment part 2

All art is but imitation of nature.
- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Since yesterday's watercolor experiment worked out better than I'd hoped I decided to retry an earlier attempt at painting a kingfisher. The photo above is used with the permission of my Mum. Thanks Mum :)
The image below was painted the day I bought my first set of tube watercolor paints, on the 2nd of May this year. I didn't water them down enough and tried to use them like acrylics, rather unsuccessfully.

I wasn't very happy with the results from my first attempt but I figured it was a first attempt after all. So we learn and move on.

This was today's result without any pen detail. (above)
This is today's result after the pen detail was added. (below)

I still think the pen is way too thick, I'll have to buy a .1 or .2 pen sooner than I planned but I definitely think the second painting is a vast improvement on the first though I'm glad I took a scan copy before I added the ink. I forgot to do that on the thrush yesterday.

So what do you think?

15 Jul 2012

Experiments in watercolor part 1

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better
 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've been in and out the last two weeks on holiday with hubby and the kids. We've had lots of fun but I'd have to say that my favorite day of the holidays was a trip we took to Tauranga and Mt Maunganui. Hubby and Master 13 wanted to check out model shops, they're working on a project together and needed supplies. Miss 7 just loves exploring and I really wanted to check out an art supply store I found online called "The Red Studio". It turned out to be a great store with a very helpful salesman that introduced me to my new favorite art journal. A Daler Rowney Ebony A6 hardcover sketchbook. 150gsm off white paper, delicious and not badly priced either. 

Today was the first day of the new school term so I took advantage of the peace and quiet to try out the new sketchbook. The picture above is the result. It's in watercolor and ink.

I'm still fairly new to watercolor, I usually paint in acrylic, so I thought I'd use this new sketchbook for my watercolor experiments. My old journal only has 100gsm paper and buckles quite badly when it gets wet. I'm happyish with the end results. The paper stayed flat and was lovely to paint on. But it's going to take me a while to get used to working with watercolor paints though. They flow very freely in places I don't want them to at the moment lol. Still, I'm okay with the look of this painting but I think the pen work is too thick though for the size of the image. So I'm going to have to invest in some different sized pens, a .1 or .2 would have been better than the .4 that I used. I'd even have preferred a dark brown pen to the black but I have no idea if I can get different colors. That's something else I need to explore. Overall though I'm quite happy, I broke the first page jitters without too much hassle even though halfway through I wished I was painting a penguin or something easier instead. All up I think I spent about 45 minutes to 1 hour total on it. So it was a pretty quick job.
I'm really looking forward to filling this little book with more watercolor experiments and if they work out okay I think I'll invest in some better quality paints too to see what difference that will make. 

So what did I learn?
  1. Practice, practice, practice. I need to build up my experience using watercolor paints. There are lots of tutorials on youtube to help with learning the different techniques so I have no excuse not to try.
  2. The type and quality of the paper makes a huge difference! I need to use the right materials to do the job well.
  3. Small images require finer tipped pens to really make a positive difference.
  4. Shopping in new art supply stores is lots of fun! :)

Have a great week everyone!  :)