Monday, 5 September 2011

A challenging watercolour tangent

I had planned to post about some preliminary work that I've been doing the past few days for my next big painting but whilst doing some experimenting I got distracted and wandered off on a tangent. The following watercolours are the result.....

Gathering clouds
watercolour 11x15cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec
Silver night
watercolour 21x21cm
©2011 Lisa Le Quelenec

I used lamp black, indigo and ultramarine violet with gouache in the clouds. The paper is khadi a beautiful paper handmade in India. I really like the deckle edges and the textured weave of the surface which encourages the pigments to granulate. Exploiting the texture and using an almost dry brush, holding it horizontal to the paper surface I could get the sparkles of the water in the painting on the left.

I enjoyed the tangent but ohhhh watercolours are HARD!  I'd completely forgotten just how much lighter the washes dry when trying to get a good dark. I used sooo much pigment and then wondered why I just hadn't stuck to acrylic.... makes me appreciate once again just how talented watercolourists are.

This link takes you to one of my favourite ever watercolour books, I totally agree with the first reviewer of the book when they say of other watercolourists that, ' may make them weep and grind their teeth at their own inadequacy.' For me Sargent is a master watercolourist being able to say so much in such beautiful expressive strokes. I visited the 'Sargent and the Sea' exhibition at the Royal Academy last year and one of the highlights for me was to be able to get so close to some watercolours he'd done in Venice. They took my breath away, the light and colour were just unbelievable. Can you tell he's one of my heroes?


Bruce Sherman said...

Hi there Lisa!... I personally like the "tangents"... as you refer to them! They are moody... evocative studies as credible as "Clair de Lune"! HA HA!!

A tangent is a pathway away from a continous circle. Circling simply implies repetitive action... and repetitive actions soon lose their effect or influence.

A tangent always leads somewhere... beyond the known and comfortable! Isn't that what making art is all aboutr Lisa?... Exploring and growing!

I love these tangents!

Good Painting!... and Tangenting!
Warmest regards,

Caroline said...

The sparkle on the sea is fantastic, what lovely paintings these are. Yes watercolour is hard isn't it but you have produced some very moody work here you should be proud of. Well done Lisa!

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Anonymous said...

Lisa, Love these! Dry brushing on the right paper can be very effective. Why not try these over again without the gouache and without using black...maybe a colour called Neutral Tint from W&N ....Don't shoot me!....Just a thought, as I think by having to control the whites and light areas by the amount of water you use will help you greatly with your watercolour journey. The big thing for me in watercolour is understanding the ratio of water to pigment, and how to keep clean (ish) passages by the amount of water you use.

Michael Bailey said...

Hi Lisa. Fabulous moonlight colours. I like the atmospheric cloud effects and the granulation you have got on the left hand painting and the sparkle on the right hand one is superb. I thought of trying Khadi paper and you may just have convinced me!
I rarely use black but I'm not a purist. I prefer to mix darks from near complementaries: Ultramarine or Prussian Blue with one of the red/orange earths are as dark as I need. It's difficult to get strong darks in watercolour but you can compensate by making the lights a little lighter. It's a whole new way of thinking - tough stuff this watercolour isn't it :)

vivien said...

These are lovely - you've caught the silvery sparkle on the water well.

I don't own black in watercolour - but it has worked well here. And I need to try Khadi paper I don't think I've used it.

Lisa Le Quelenec said...

Hi Bruce, thank you. I'm not sure where this tangent is leading at the moment but I am enjoying the journey. Yes I do think it is important to shake up habits and beliefs to keep asking what if? and to '..step into the void' - I think that was a Klee quote but I may be wrong. It makes life/painting interesting and exciting. Happy painting to you.

Hello Caroline, thank you. I love the sparkle you got in the painting of your last post.

(Bang!) I would never shoot you Maggie ;o) I have a tube of neutral tint that I was given and have never used. Maybe I will get that out tomorrow and have a play... there might have to be a new colour chart made. I will give it a go with a moonscape. It's so ingrained in me using acrylics that I don't have a hope of remembering that I need to paint around the whites with watercolour. They need planning with military precision so I will get an oil pastel out to help. Thank you for the help.

Hi Michael, thank you for commenting. I used to be a purist on the subject of black, it was drummed into me throughout my training. Then one day I wondered why I had unquestionably followed this 'rule' whilst breaking and pushing the boundaries of others. I started to experiment and found that ivory black can be quite useful at times....this could be a whole new post.

Thank you Vivien, do give the Khadi a try it's just lovely. I think you might enjoy it with one of your mixed media pieces.