I thought I’d try working with opaques again in watercolor. I watched Burton Silverman’s DVD after not seeing it for years and wanted to give it another shot. So, instead of watercolor paper this is on plate bristol like he uses. I followed his method, and this time I did manage to get the paint to lift like he does (pretty effortlessly this time). It seems like it’s useful for correcting errors but it can get sort of annoying. There are times that I don’t want the paint to move. I want it to behave like watercolor stained on watercolor paper with a reasonable amount of staying where I put it to begin with. His method is more like painting with gouache (opaque watercolors).
It’s more difficult to get dark darks as the white gouache sort of permeates everything. This seems to be why this method doesn’t have the glaringly obvious look that can usually happen when using opaque white with transparent watercolors. It isn’t as wet as watercolors usually are for me so there’s less flow. With the addition of the white there’s also color shift (the mixtures dry lighter or darker depending on the color in various degrees which makes anticipating the final color difficult).
The photo below is after the first day. The paint on the pumpkin is so thick that it’s sticky. I’m not sure how to store it or what to do with it. Surely it will stick to the back of another painting if I put it in one of my piles.
Tomorrow I want to glaze the reflected orange on the bucket darker. This would be easy with transparent paint but I’m anticipating needing to mix the exact color I want with opaque paint. The pumpkin needs dark darks. I’m not happy with the background or the table, and I want the pumpkin’s shadow to be… just… better (I’m not sure how to use words to describe it). Also, the ridges on the pumpkin seem a little too regular and even.
The pumpkin is over painted. There’s too much noodling and apprehension. It’s gotten so thick I’m afraid to try and adjust it any further. Maybe if I just make it ‘dirtier’. There is a certain quality to some of the thinner areas of the painting that I like though. The addition of the opaque white dulls the surface, creates a chalkiness. The dull battleship gray of the bucket was easier to achieve with the addition of white. I’d like to do a comparison with transparent watercolor and see if I can get the same quality or the same color and effect.
OK, day #2 below. I fixed the things I wanted to fix. If you compare the pictures you can see where I was able to completely lift out a longer stem on the pumpkin.
One of the things I like about watercolors is having to live with things that I thought were mistakes — how to deal with them, accept them, make them work, make them appear intentional, take a weakness and make it a strength. I can’t control them or force them to be perfect and flawless. I’m not that kind of person and not that kind of painter. I can correct errors endlessly with oils and acrylics, and typically when I do that I kill the painting. It loses any spontaneity and bravado. When I fix all my errors to satisfy my ego and a need to control it the work seems timid and insecure to me. Usually watercolors force me to believe in myself and have faith in my abilities and courage to leap into the unknown.
This method is fun to play with, but I don’t see it becoming my regular practice — especially if I can replicate some of the aspects I like about the color and surface. But some of it may seep in anyway as it is more fluid and needs less planning.