Painting Material – Watercolor Palettes

Today, tips on watercolor palettes – or things that can be used as one. 😉

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I used to keep my watercolors in a John Pike palette. It’s very sturdy, holds a lot of different colors and has a lid that closes tightly, which makes it easy to take with you.

The downside is that the material stains, I never really liked that. So, I looked for alternatives.

 

 

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And I found this little beauty. It’s a ceramic mixing tray. Obviously, it has no lid, so, it’s rather for use at home. What I like is that the trays are quite deep, so you can add a lot of water. It’s ideal for mixing various shades (very handy when you paint monochromatic pictures). The one in the picture is 7 inches wide, it comes in different sizes. BTW, the brush is from Cheap Joe’s. They have excellent watercolor brushes (their own brand), that are inexpensive, hold a good portion of water and are very accurate.

 

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While the ceramic tray is a really nice option. This is my absolute favorite. Simple white tiles, high gloss. The size is roughly 8 x 10 inches or 20 x 25 cm. Obviously you can choose whatever size you like. For my purposes this size seems ideal. I love love love it!

It’s ideal for mixing colors and trying out shades (less paper wasted). They are inexpensive and when you’re done you simply wash them with water and they are like new. I bought a whole box at my local home improvement store. Or, may be you have a couple of tiles left over from your last remodelling project. Try it, it’s truly fabulous. 😃

 

 

Letting Loose – Rhythm

I just found this in my old drawings. It’s a gesture drawing, took only about two minutes. I really like it for its loose movement. It has energy and rhythm. Amazing what can be caught in a moment’s time when one is being present and just observing and drawing instead of thinking. 😉

Rhythm | Graphite on Paper | 2013

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Watercolour Swatches – Basic Fun

As mentioned in a previous post, I picked up watercolour painting again. It’s been a few years since I tried my hand at it. This time, I promised myself, I wanted to approach it in a very structured way, from the ground up. A teacher of mine once told me (watercolour-) painting is 80% preparation and 20% painting. Quite possibly that’s one of the reasons for my past frustration with watercolour. I used to just go at it, without lots of thinking. 😬

Not anymore! Here we go. One of the first steps, and a very helpful one, I might add, is creating your own colour swatches. Not only do they provide an overview of the shades you can create with a colour, you also learn (or practice) shading. Here is what you have to do.

Draw ten boxes in a row (with a pencil), even in size. Write the name of the colour above the row of boxes. Now, start colouring. The darkest shade first, then gradually get lighter until the very finest shade. The result should look somewhat like this:

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If you really want to challenge yourself and practice some more, do it in reverse as well. Like this:

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Do this for each of your watercolours. As mentioned, it is an opportunity to practice. Shading is not as easy as it might seem, and I noticed, that depending on the intensity of the shade the colour changed in ways that I did not expect. It’s really helpful to have the swatches. Next time when you try to decide which colour to use and/or which shade would be appropriate, they’ll come in handy. Believe me, been there, done that – oh, all the mistakes I made without them. But, I am learning.  😉 😀  I enjoyed that exercise. Hope you do too.

Dear Fellow Human Beings,

I guess Corona has caught up to all of us in one or the other way. Life becomes more and more restricted in order to prevent the virus from spreading. I, myself, have two families in my social circles that have been in direct contact with infected people, and are quarantined now. Consequently, I put myself on “house arrest“ until we know more. I have no symptoms, but it’s the reasonable thing to do.

It’s not all bad, gives me some extra time to paint, read and write. And, thanks to this little invention called internet I can stay in touch and share it with you. So, I am sending best wishes to all of you out there. Take care – and don’t freak out (honestly, who needs toilet paper for the next five years).

This will blow over, just hang in there. Meanwhile, with the right precautions for safety 😷 we can still help each other where needed, and most of all, be nice to each other. Now, more than ever, we need to know that we are not alone.

Sending lots of good wishes and xoxo.  😘

In the Shadows

Going through some of my old work, I found this portrait I created in 2013 while attending art school in Seattle. Looking at it now, I really like it, so I thought I share it with you. Wishing you a great Sunday, hope it is a sunny one. I’m in Munich right now and it is gorgeous here today. Happy Sunday, Everyone!

In the Shadows | Charcoal on Paper | 2013

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Accepting the Flow

I found an old pencil sketch of a bottle the other day and spontaneously started filling it in with watercolors. It’s been a long time since I’ve painted. It’s really just a sketch and has its flaws, starting with the paper (not watercolor paper) and then the colors that turned out muddy in some places because I just kept moving the brush over and over in the same spot (an old bad habit I have a hard time controlling). Watercolor is a tricky and fascinating medium. You can only do so much and quite often have to accept the flow of the watery pigment. That’s one of the reasons why I started painting with watercolor and it’s also the reason for a lot of frustration I had to deal with. And one day I stopped, partly because the frustration was just too much. But now, I think, it’s time I pick it up again. While you get better with practice, it is not always possible to control the outcome. That’s true in art, as in life. The only thing that can save you then (from frustration or worse) is acceptance. It is what it is. And sometimes, if you look at things with an open mind, you might see beauty where there seemed to be none before. Enjoy!

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Käthe Kollwitz – Mother with Boy

Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) was a German artist. She lived through both world wars, lost her brother and her younger son in WWI and her grand son in WWII. Needless to say that these losses left a great impression on her. She was a committed socialist and pacifist. Quite often she depicted death, hunger, and the devastation of war in her art. She mostly sculpted but also produced very impressive drawings. Her sculptures are outstanding, very special and among my favorites. I had the pleasure to see (and touch – a very special treat) some of her super large sculptures in the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Berlin. A friend who visited this museum very recently sent me a postcard featuring one of her drawings called “Mother with Boy”. Kollwitz very often made the Mother a central figure of her art. Mothers who give birth to their sons, only to lose them in horrible senseless wars.

I’m so impressed with the seemingly simple style of her art, and I wanted to study her technique. Turns out, it might look simple but it has a lot of little intricacies that are harder to reproduce than it seems. I find, the best way is really to copy and experience how the artist did it. When I say copy, I mean looking and drawing free hand – no cheating with any helpful tools like rulers or so. The point is to train your eye and to get a sense for the technique of the artist.

Why is this line exactly here and not there? What happens if I move it just a bit? Is this little dot of importance? Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind while trying to copy her drawing. Again, it looks so simple at first sight, but it was actually really hard to copy. It helps when I step away for a few hours or even a day or two. It also helps, when I look at a photo of her and my drawing side by side (as you see below). For some reason I notice other things when I look at a photo instead of the actual drawing. And every time I see another little thing that needs “fixing”.

An amazing exercise, that I enjoyed immensely. I stopped at some point. It can still be improved. However, that is also a lesson I learned from this exercise. You stop at some point and accept the result. And then start over, if you wish. Every time you learn something new. Try it !

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