Three weeks ago, I gave a watercolor painting demonstration using the techniques I have developed for masa paper. It is also the chief topic of my book. It’s a much looser approach to watercolor. I call it a juicy, loosey-goosey approach. It allows for both happy, and not so happy, accidents. It also forces one to begin as one should: as a generalist. If the paper is wet, any small details dissipate into the wet surface. As it dries, it allows for further refinement. This is exactly how one should proceed even with a more tightly controlled technique.
I have done tightly controlled watercolors and I can take only so much slow, careful work. There are times I feel like I have to break out and do a more gestural kind of painting. Working with wet masa paper allows me to do just that and still have some control over the outcome. Rag paper behaves differently when it’s wet and placing saturated washes onto wet rag paper does not give the same result.
This piece started as a daylight landscape painting. I demonstrated the use of salt, the use of intentional blooms, and how easily the paint can be lifted from the masa surface. Since I am an animated speaker who talks with her hands, stray drops of water and paint ended up on the paper with unintended results that I did not care for. The painting would not have been a success in any case, so I decided to turn the whole thing into a night painting by covering it entirely with a deep, dark blue. I find such a blue to be a much better choice for night paintings. After that application, took a paper towel, bunched it up, and rolled it, with some pressure, across the wet wash. That created the light spots in the night sky along with a little salt. I wrung my brush out and then lifted color in the middle ground for a moonlit effect. The final painting ended up being far better than my starting point.
This was a gutsy decision. But, I have been watercolor painting long enough to know when to take a risk with a gutsy move. My informed intuition turned out well. Not caring about the underlying painting was also very helpful. Sometimes an E.W.A.G. (Educated Wildass Guess) is worth taking.
We may not have reached the Winter Solstice and the astronomical beginning of winter, but winter has now begun. We had snow last night. The wind is howling through the trees in my backyard. The digits indicating temperature have been transposed; 63º to 36ºF. (roughly 4ºC). Drat it all!
This watercolor has been hanging out in one of my portfolio books without having had a photo taken of it. I was looking through only a few weeks ago in preparation for a demo I gave. It seemed appropriate for the occasion of the first snowfall of the season. It’s about the right amount of snow too. As fleeting as it had been today, it marked a very real seasonal change.
My mourning for summer has been dampened by unusually warm November temperatures. It really was 63º yesterday! I’ll take it this late in the season. I’m not looking forward to winter. As a geeza, I view the ice and snow that comes with winter to be hazards to my health. I don’t recover well from falls at this age. I don’t like white-knuckle driving in snow storms either. In my younger days, nothing stopped me from going out if I wanted to or had to. Now, when the weatherman announces a winter storm watch, it’s a declaration of my being grounded.
I will be cold all winter as I argue with my honey that a thermostat setting of 68º is too low as I put on an extra sweater. It’s OK even cooler at night for sleeping, but not during the day. And my studio usually hovers at around 62º. At least I have a heater to take the chill off down there. I have lived all my life in the upper mid-west and in my old age I have become a total wuss when it comes to winter!
Into the Woods
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 21×10.5″
This was painted in early September when just a few leaves were responding to the diminishing daylight. The woods remained pretty lush for the next month. We have had a long, damp, warm autumn. Only in the last week have the remnants of foliage fluttered down to the forest floor. If the warmth continues I fear it means lots of snow to come.
I recall the last time November was this warm was the 1978-79 winter season. I was taking tomatoes off the vine until Thanksgiving! Then, all hell broke loose and we had a winter snowfall total of 108″! My dogs could walk over our 4′ backyard fence supported by the hardened crust of the snow. I thought I would never see bare ground again. I hope my fears of another winter season like that will not come to fruition. I will just foolishly cling to summer.