Welcome! This online journal will share my news of new paintings and upcoming exhibits, tips and notes with friends, collectors and other artists. Please visit often and enjoy!

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Stretching versus Flattening the Paper

This post addresses two questions I hear often--whether it is necessary to pre-stretch the paper for a watercolor painting, and how to flatten a painting that is buckled or warped.

I don't stretch the paper before painting. One reason is that I have very limited time for painting, and this preparatory step would consume some of that time. Secondly, I often paint outdoors, and it would be impractical to carry several boards with stretched paper. Finally, I don't really find it necessary.

As the photo above illustrates, I simply clip the sheet corners to the board and that works well for my purposes.

While clipping the sheet to the board keeps the paper flat while I'm painting, sometimes the sheet warps after I take the clips off, and I need to flatten it. I'll use my latest painting to illustrate the process, as in the photo below.

1. First, I wet the back of the painting thoroughly with a flat brush and clean water. I spread the water evenly on the entire surface.

2. As show in the photo, I allow the paper to absorb the water evenly until saturated, and add more water in some spots if I notice they are drying too rapidly (I live in Colorado and the air is very dry).

3. I wait until dampness is down to a sheen, and turn the paper over, to be face up, onto a clean, dry board. I place another board over the painting and press it down to make sure it's flat.

4.I move the board to expose one edge of the sheet at a time, and tape that edge down with masking tape. I press and flatten the tape well to avoid any gaps or bubles. I repeat until all edges are taped.

5.I remove the board from the top and let the painting dry, laying horizontally, face up, uncovered, until it's completely dry and stretched. This could take many hours, so I often leave it to dry overnight.

6.Finally, I remove the tape carefully to avoid tearing or damage to the paper, and the painting is now completely flat.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grattan Bridge, mistake corrected!

Before: Grattan Bridge, Dublin, watercolor, 11x15 (detail)

After: Grattan Bridge, Dublin (detail)

In my post of April 10th, I wrote that my painting "Grattan Bridge, Dublin" had a factual mistake. Commentators were very perceptive and got it mostly right: It had to do with the direction of traffic, but I need to clarify. After having started the painting, I decided to ignore some of the figures I had originally planned in the center of the painting and replace them with a third car--I even thought the red tail lights would add to the interest of the scene. When I was done, I looked at the painting and realized to my surprise I had just placed the brown car going the wrong way, on the wrong lane, on a one-way street! So the problem was not that the cars were all wrong as suspected, it was only one car that was facing the wrong direction.

I could have left it as was, as a curiosity, or changed the location to make it all acceptable, but I opted instead to correct the problem. I lifted the color carefully and then painted the car again. You will notice that in the detail image above, the car now faces the viewer, as it should be.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Miguel Lucas turns 6 (months)!

Baby Miguel Lucas is six months today! I can't believe how fast this half year has gone by... He is a big boy, he has grown from 19 1/2 inches to 27 3/4; and he went from 6 lb 7 oz to current 17 lb and 3 oz. He can sit now, but not quite crawl yet; he has a fun, calm disposition and is a joy to be around. Christina and I could not be happier!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Painting Ireland 4, What's wrong with this picture?

Grattan Bridge, Dublin, watercolor, 11x15 inches

This is another image of Ireland, but unlike previous posts, this was painted back at home, not during my trip. This was the evening of St Patrick's Day, and I was strolling around Dublin with friends. I took a reference photo of Grattan Bridge just before we headed to the Porterhouse Pub for live music and a pint. It was cold at the time and the sky was still bright with a soft glow, but back at home I decided it would be more interesting to make it a rainy day. This was painted on Fabriano Artistico Cold Press paper, with Schmincke and Winsor & Newton colors.

After I had finished the painting, I noticed a serious factual error (my apologies to Dubliners for it). Of course I took artistic license and modified a lot of things, simplified details, added elements from imagination--actually the entire effect of the rain was imagined--but there is one thing that is completely wrong and not intentional at all... Let's make it fun: I'll give people a week to view this and maybe leave a comment with the solution, before I post a detail picture with the explanation.