Saturday, December 29, 2012

Evening in the Desert - Graduated Wash

watercolour - 'Evening in the Desert'
Creating a Graduated Wash:
This small watercolour was created on a demo piece showing a graduated wash. The paper was orientated 180 degrees from what is shown here, and tilted about at about a 30 degree angle. Although numbers make the process sound technical, it is easy to do.
Mix up enough paint in one colour to be able to cover your entire paper. Starting at the top, using a wide brush, in one even stroke lay a strip of colour. Quickly add a bit of water to the paint mix and repeat the painting process slightly overlapping the second brush stroke with the bottom of the first brush stroke. With each successive brush stroke make the paint mix increasingly more watery and less paint.
When the paper is completely covered lay the paper flat to dry.  With a tissue, wipe up any excess paint at the edges of the paper. The key to retaining the luminosity is to avoid over brushing. If you have to add more paint as you go across the page, do so but avoid multiple brush strokes going over the same area.
After the paper is thoroughly dried you can add a silhouetted image on top using a darker colour. Here I used the same hue, only darker, making this an analogous colour scheme. In this class, Margie painted this same image but chose to paint a burnt sienna colour over an light blue-green background using a near complementary colour scheme. It was a good choice too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Prickly Pear watercolour

Watercolour: 'Prickly Pear'

The fruit of the prickly pear fruit demands attention as the colour is close to complementary on the colour wheel. These cactus fruit are also known as cactus figs and are used for food. I have heard of a jelly being made from them. You must remove the fine spines on it by peeling or burning them off. In Mexico it's fruit had historically been made into alcoholic beverages.
One thing I didn't know is that the prized natural, cochineal (red) dye is made from an insect that lives on this type of cactus. I would love to see the range of red shades it produces.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wet-in-wet Watercolour Technique

Sonora Desert Burro - Watercolour
I am fascinated with animals in the wild and the burros especially so, as you can see them occasionally roaming around the desert. Burros were introduced to North America centuries ago about the time of Christopher Columbus and used later often by prospectors. From there feral populations developed. Isn't it amazing that the burro can survive in the dry conditions of the Sonora desert?
The burro, itself,  was painted by wetting the paper and painting him in one go from wet to dry. A fun technique if a bit unpredictable. His dark hair has a violet glaze on top to relate to the rest of the painting.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Three Layers of Dye

Dye Painted Cotton
This dye painting process involved a slightly new technique and I am pleased with the results. The piece was started on damp soda soaked cotton. Soda ash is the activator for the dye allowing it to adhere to the fabric.
Using fibre reactive dyes that were mixed into dye concentrates, I painted the orange and green stems and leaves. Next  I sketched in the white stems and leaves with a light pencil and painted the background around them in a medium blue. The piece was placed in plastic and cured in a warm place overnight.
The dark blue foliage was then painted and again cured. For the final step, the next day I hung the piece to dry before starting as I didn't wanted the fine black line to bleed. I mixed a few grains of soda ash in the bottle of thickened black dye and placed on a nib for drawing. I did this as I didn't know if there would be enough soda ash left in the cloth to activated the final layer of black dye. The cotton was cured for the third time and then was washed in a Dharma Textile detergent and ironed dry.
Painting with liquid dye takes some practice as it spreads a certain amount when placed on the cloth. Also there can be some separation of mixed colours called haloing. Note the turquoise bled into the white. I must say I rather like the results.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Softer Colours

Hand (dye) Painted Cotton 'Floating Flowers'
The beautiful luminosity of dyes is really demonstrated in this piece. I am still using colours within a triad but these are softer colours than I usually paint with. Just as with watercolour painting, forcing yourself to try different colours is important in keeping your work lively. The colours were mixed from Dharma Trading Procion fibre reactive dyes: fuchsia, lemon yellow and turquoise. The yellow and turquoise were both warmed with a little of the fuchsia. All were lightened by adding urea water.
The only thickened dye I used was in sketching in details with a fuchsia dye that was put in a bottle with a nib. This method allows for an expressive line to be drawn. I find that more artful than using a permanent fabric marker which gives an even line.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Painting with Liquid Dye Concentrates in Two Steps

Hand (dye) Painted Cotton

Unlike most of my posts, the following description is somewhat technical and suited to someone who has some experience in dyeing fabric.

My first 6 pieces are washed after a few weeks of being away from the dye studio. This time instead of using the thickened fibre reactive dyes, I painted these soda-soaked cotton pieces with liquid dyes that I premixed into concentrates. I lightened or mixed the concentrates as required. After painting, the pieces were batched to cure.
Normally when using thickened dyes I would next rinse the pieces. Rather this time as there was no alginate (dye thickener) to act as a resist, I repainted details on top using thickened dyes with some soda ash (activator) added to the dye. Some of the details were added using thickened dyes in a bottle with a nib and additional darks were added in thickened dyes by painting with a brush. Again the pieces were placed in plastic (batching) to cure. Here are two of the rinsed results.