4–>40 Shade


Shade.  small watercolor  (3″ x 8″) created wet in wet with wet on dry paper elements added later.

Happy accidents happen when you play around — at least in watercolor! Here are some of the steps that led to this experiment that I am calling finished.

Shade_watercolor_rachel_murphree 1

Step 1 . Wet the paper and put down pigment mixtures that were kind of thicker consistency and watch the blending and happy things happen.

Step one was dampening the paper with clear water and then putting in pigment drops.  The consistency was more pigment than water, but not pure pigment.  Various artists refer to these consistencies as various everyday objects.  Joseph Zbukvic discusses this in his book Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor as either tea, coffee, milk, cream, butter (see also Brienne M Brown’s explanation and wonderful watercolors).  Michael Riordan referred to them all as forms of dairy: skim, 2%, whole, cream, butter.

Shade_watercolor_rachel_murphree 2

Step 2. Adding some definition and darks with paint on dry paper around the area of interest and focal point.

After that I carefully put in more darks to develop shrub/tree area.. I’m put detail really only in the area of the focal point rather than putting it on the periphery or outer edges of the painting where it would distract from the story of Shade.

Shade_watercolor_rachel_murphree 3

Step 3. Defining the tree more and making the lightest area smaller…but in the process I lost the brilliant white.

In step 3 I also filled in some of the distracting white sparkles in the foreground that I thought might distract from the focal point. In our workshop, Michael referred to this as “tinselitis”.

Final painting

Final painting of Shade.

Step 4 has the shadow of the tree to ground it.  This was a fun little piece to play around with.  It could have gone many other ways…but as in real life, there is no “reset” button!  It is what it is!

Today my plein air EASEL is scheduled to arrive!!  I hope it’s soon.  Thanks for stopping by…

12 thoughts on “4–>40 Shade

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