Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An Experimentation with Watercolor

The saying is that, If you do not dare to experiment, you may never know what you can achieve and it may not necessarily be a solid 'success' every single time. But, what if you can get something worth as a final result, that may be the bonus! The path traveled for the first time is mostly exciting in spite of the difficulties faced. However the joy is to stay positive without expecting an end results and enjoy the unknown. Not all roads leads to a final destination but the experience can still be worth a try.

Here's what I did with one of the demo watercolor piece from the last watercolor workshop I had conducted in Chennai. I was showcasing various techniques of watercolors and ended up with few papers which has hardly anything but patches of colors. As I am always on for experimentation I wanted to do something which I have never tried before. I convinced myself I had nothing to loose as it was not a finish piece of art.

Fig 01
This one is a quarter size paper where I demonstrated two different approaches for 'wet-in-wet' techniques and back-run/bloom/cauliflower effect [Fig 01]. I did not wanted to throw this away or keep lying around. On this kind of situations, I generally come back later on to establish some shapes of tonal values and colors on top of the existing ones to see if anything I can further develop. I'll do another post on that topic some other day :)! this time I decided to wash off the existing colors to see what remains and what can be done.

Fig 02
After keeping the paper wet thoroughly for sometime, I used a big soft flat brush to wash off the colors as much as possible [Fig 02]. You need to be gentle and careful at this step so the 'external sizing' of the paper is not damaged. You can also notice if you have used staining pigments in earlier stages, they wont come off completely from the paper while others will clear. Satisfied with what I got here, I let it to dry keeping flat on a board.

Fig 03
This is the exciting stage to start a new painting on top of a washed off paper. Here you can notice, I did a economical line drawing to go for the new painting [Fig - 03]. I was excited as there were under wash of colors which was completely not planned for the new painting.

Fig 04
For this exercise I decide to use this tonal study [Fig 04]. This is a quick and random graphite sketch I did earlier to study shapes of light and shade within a composition and I considered this will be nice one to use in this exercise as it's relatively a simple. The reason for using a simple concept is I was still unaware how the paper is going to react when I start laying the fresh washes again after it had been washed off and dried once before.
Fig 05
Here's the final watercolor [title: One] I achieved after repainting on the washed off paper. I decided to use similar family of colors which were used for the earlier demonstration purpose to keep the colors fresh [avoiding muddy result]. I was happy for what I finally ended up with, from nowhere to a finished painting, This exercise helped me building my confidence that even if a watercolor painting goes wrong considering the fact that it's an unforgiving medium, there's always hopes to work it around to either bring life back into it [there are various ways :)] or be brave, wash it off and start fresh again! Doing a new painting on top of a 'not so successful' painting is not a new thing and practiced regularly on other mediums however watercolor is delicate because of the paper used as surface and the transparency of pigments.

Few things I observed from this exercise are:

  • This is suitable to practice on a better quality paper with good internal and external sizing.
  • Hand made papers may not be suitable as the pulps may become weak easily after a thorough wash.
  • The paper should be wash carefully not to disturb the external sizing however it will still become a little weak and the colors may bleed in areas even while using as 'wet on dry'.
  • You need to be aware of the pigments used in the first stages. Staining pigments are hard to get off paper.
  • As there are colors remaining from the previous wash, use colors wisely [warm/cool] to avoid muddy results. Remember, watercolors is transparent and what is there underneath will show through successive top layers.
I encourage you to try this exercise to see what you can achieve. If nothing much, you'll still know you can work around a flailed painting to a completely new one. We do not pain successfully every single time, right! All the best!

I would love to hear about your views, comments and experiences. Feel free write in the comment section below.

© Dhruba Mazumder, 2014. All rights reserved.


Unknown said...

Hi Dhruba
it is always fun n inspiration to see n learn from ur experiment/Had I been in ur place would have thrown away those piece of papers.Bravo !! I'll say
Ur positive attitude teaches us to experiment n not be disappointed.Thanks for sharing those tricks n tips .I'll definitely try one

Dhruba Mazumder said...

My pleasure, Charu. Thanks for your comments!