Thursday, January 21, 2016

EXPERIMENTING ... It's a Good Thing

This photo of my neighbor's sunflowers was my inspiration - taken several weeks ago, during a cold snap.  

My drawing

First washes. I wet the entire sheet [15 x 22 inches] and stroked on some quin. burnt orange.

I did some detail work on the old flower and leaves, using quin. gold, the orange and indanthrone blue for muted greens.

I masked the flower, wet  the paper all over again,  and stroked in some green, mixed from gold, orange and blue.

I added more detail and shadowing using orange, quin. violet and blue. The techniques were a combination of wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry [softening the strokes].

With the masking off

I felt there was not enough strength/support for the sunflower. So I wet the left side and stroked in some of the dark brown mixture.

This was the experiment. I saw the painting as lacking integration, no sense of wholeness. So I wondered .... ??? Could I get away with wetting the entire thing and not loose what had been so far painted?
YES!!! After letting it dry overnight, I wet it all, and applied gold, orange and brown in a circle shapes with the center around the flower. I then sprayed a bit to encourage the colors to move and blend. I am very pleased with the result! If you plan to try this technique, I encourage you to read Nita Engle's book, How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself. I could get away with this because I had used staining colors; anything else would turn to mud. 

This was the same stage as the above painting, but taken on "auto" mode. The previous one was with AV mode.  I find it works better in winter under an artificial light.

And this is the next project.

For a while now, I have been wanting to push my paintings further, using shapes, values, colors, design to convey some emotion. One way I plan to do this is to religiously prepare several value sketches to work out kinks before painting. And I want to be able to skillfully use more of the lost-and-found techniques for edges.

Hmmm ... I guess that's it for today. Thank you very much for dropping by!


  1. Ohhhhhh gosh! The sunflower is already beautiful! You know what.. just the other day we saw some sleeping sunflowers in a sleeping garden bed,.. And we though how beautiful they were,,,!! And here,,,, you feel the same inspiration from the sleeping sunflower...It is beautiful!

  2. Hi Kathryn,
    So very good to see you here! Oh I just love it! Yes, experimenting is a good thing..
    I have been experimenting with my mediums also... Off on another track...
    I agree, the dark browns on the left really did the trick... You are very brave for wetting the entire piece.. .eeek! I don't know if I would be brave enough to try, but how else would you know.. I guess sometimes you just have to go for it.
    Beautiful work, as always.

  3. I love your experiments with the sunflower, Kathryn! Good idea! And I like your preparations for the mushroom as well. I am also thinking about ways to prepare my paintings better, so we both seem to have the same new year's resolutions. :)

  4. Dear Kathryn- what a gorgeous experiment. I love the colors you used. Just the right balance friend. Have a great weekend

  5. The sunflower looks nice, thanks for the step by step photos :) great mushroom.

  6. The beauty of decay , awfully well done, you turned this sad and brown sun flower into an eye opening piece of art ! xx

  7. Wonderful art work !!!
    Have a nice and creative week !!!

  8. I admire you patience!! But it is so worth it! I always have such trouble photographing my work! :0)

  9. Love dead stuff! A terrific challenge for shriveled form and astute line work. Looks likes something wonderful is happening here. Good painting Kathryn!

  10. Wow! Enjoyed every step! Amazing you could take that old flower to somthing like this beautyful result :)