Monday, October 29, 2012

Past Work 4

watercolor on hot pressed illus. board
9.25" x 8.75" (23.495cm x 22.225cm)

A slight break from the previous celebrity portrait/caricature posts, this watercolor was done during the same period.

This was when I was experimenting heavily with watercolor on different substrates, exploring their various surface characteristics.
I tried watercolor boards, cold and hot press illustration board, kid finish (paper) fixed to board and some others, eventually arriving at a really slick surface, one that requires great patience in the early stages of building up the surface but gives the work the same kind of depth and richness of oil painting.

Although this painting has a traditional watercolor finish or look to it the surface and working methods used was not. This was after buying Burt Silverman's book "Breaking the Rules of Watercolor" which was both an epiphany and has had a lasting impact on my own work, especially in my less traditional watercolor technique like these here, here and here.

It is a way that invites working the medium back and forth, breaking down the surface then building it back up, a method that generally goes against the more traditional approach of additive (only) painting, applying washes from light to dark, building up the painting in a straight forward manner.
It is a more physical approach, scrubbing and wiping areas out then repainting, really taking advantage of the solubility of watercolor.
Lights and even whites can be brought back from dark passages, unlike traditional watercolor paper, which allows greater freedom to aggressively push paint around, never having to worry about holding back and preserving the white of the paper or the hassle of masking fluids.

While an art student I had instructors who taught the same kind of mentality, one that suits my temperament better. I no longer had to work in that kind of 'point A to point B' manner which is far too easy to screw up when you suddenly realize, half way through, you have gotten too dark, have the wrong color or temperature or want to completely remove some defeating element.

I can go forward, backward, sideways... it does not matter, there is no fear so it is a much more liberating way to work and it is certainly much more fun.

Incidentally, it also helps when I do paint using traditional methods and surfaces which I still enjoy as well, like this one here and here and "Union Pacific 8381".193

Click on image for larger view


  1. it is lovely to see your portraiture work David! You have a wonderful sense of form! Could you provide a link to the board you used for watercolour which behaves like oils: i have a love/hater relationship with watercolours ( i love what others do with them but i can't use them myself simply because i want them to move after i put them down.
    all the best r.

  2. Hi rahina,
    Thank you,
    We all have a love/hate relationship with watercolors (watercolours)...
    Nobody actually likes doing them ; )

    The one I have settled on (mostly) is Bainbridge 2000 Ruling Mechanical Board.
    Others use Yupo, very similar but more 'beading', so yields a different look.
    I encourage experimenting with different surfaces as I mentioned in post since we are all different as artists.

    Requires much much patience in the beginning, there is a fairly long learning curve to get used to such a slick surface and how it behaves with watercolor.
    It takes a whole different approach in 'thinking' as opposed to traditional watercolor on paper. But once you get over that initial hump it is very satisfying so hang in there no matter what.

    Plan on a few failed attempts at first. In fact, I did not even plan on 'making a painting' at first. I simply tried out the surface in an abstract way, just getting familiar with it which helps alleviate frustration.

    I'll expect to see watercolors out of you now!

    Keep painting...

    1. Oops, forgot link....

      google 'Bainbridge 2000 Ruling Mechanical Boards' to find in your area.

      Here a link;

  3. Hi David,
    I have been in Boston for a week and I am behind in checking out my art bloggers. I love this one. I love these portraits from back in the day.
    I love the colors and the shapes. All work well to make the portrait and landscape painting a success.

    1. Hi Michael,
      Hope you had a good time in Boston despite all the heartache Hurricane Sandy brought to the Northeast.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      I may post a couple more portraits from the past before I start posting new work again so stay tuned.

      Keep painting...
      Your Southwest art comrade...