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A wonderful, versatile medium. One which benefits very well from the “less is more” approach for maintaining its freshness and glow on the paper. Over working or muddied watercolours are one of the most prevalent errors made when using this medium.
All my watercolour pieces viewed here were completed on cold press illustration board or on stretched 300 lb watercolour paper. I work semi dry with watercolour, using a combination of washes and glazes as well as dry brush technique to create textures, and line emphasizing when needed. I prefer to manually work around my whites and highlights, rather than use any sort of masking techniques. This I feel gives me a strong ability to control edge softness and gradients within the highlights, leaving the white of the paper for very strong highlights. As well, I am a big fan of the scrub back technique to create subtle lights in darker areas. The board and papers I use are very forgiving.
Durability, flexibility and longevity are traits of this more contemporary medium. My acrylic portraits and paintings were completed using professional artist grade heavy body pigments, preferably Liquitex brand, on cotton duck primed canvas or primed hard board.
Working with a more natural earth tone colour based palette, staying away from the more synthetic, man made sort of colours, helps me create more traditional looking paintings and portraits with acrylic. It has always been my adage to work With the medium and its natural quick drying tendencies, than to try to extend the pigments with slow dry mediums. I use small amounts of water and some blending fluid, for glazing when needed, as a vehicle, as well as work in a dry brushing, scumbling or circular rubbing motion method with mainly just the damp paint. Paper towels are always handy right by my palette for ridding the brush of excess pigment first.
A beautiful medium that exhibits a glow and depth in a finished piece that is not easily achieved with other mediums. Oil does require more consideration and knowledge about the preparation of a good stable and archival surface beforehand. I rarely work in oil but my past pieces were all completed on primed hardboard, mainly in Windsor Newton artist grade pigments, and a small amount of mineral spirits as the vehicle.
Oil paints I used with small amounts of mineral spirits as a vehicle and worked in a mix of glazing and almost opaque brush stroke lay in method. However, oils may be used, and are used by many artists, successfully, just from the tube, they do not necessarily require any use of thinners. Safety considerations must be taken with oil painting, when using any type of thinners, more so than with watercolour or acrylics.
The key to developing good drawing skills that can be applied to working up a drawing for a painting, come from constantly maintaining good observational abilities, visual memory, and plenty of continuous practice. Though I did begin life drawing at age sixteen in high school, continuing two times a week for four years during art college, as well as attending drop in life drawing groups off and on, there is no need to go to any expense to practice this. Though you could search out artist groups or drop in life drawing groups in your area. However, lots of artists sketch from life in public, there is the option of working from still life at home, in natural or artificial direct light, as well as drawing pets and family members. One idea is to begin by practicing drawing quick thirty second to one minute gestures from people and pets that move around you, either at home or in public.
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All artworks protected by copyright © Jocelyn Ball-Hansen