Ginkgo biloba is one of the plants with the best PR. It doesn’t only have healing powers but it’s also beautiful. Of course, the dandalion possesses these qualities too (among several other plants) and yet it was ginkgo, which became so iconic that almost anyone can recognise its leaves.
The butterfly-shaped leaves seemed the perfect model to practice the transparency of watercolours. It is precisely this ethereal quality, that made me fall in love with watercolours and that you can also learn with me today.
To my great joy, creativity is spreading within the family. After diagnosing the illness of painting on simple print paper however, I realised that it’s high time to give some in-depth info on materials. I mean more in-depth than the blog post sharing 9 essential art supplies. This series started with a fairly detailed guide to paintbrushes, and today I’m sharing all I know about paper. The motto for today is: forget simple print paper!!!
Why is paper important?
For a moment, imagine that you live a few hundred years ago, and work in the studio of a great master, mixing paints. What kind of grimace would appear on your face if the great master tried to use your carefully prepared paint on thin print paper? Exactly! For oils, canvas will act as the best surface. For every medium there is a right surface, which it was designed for. It matters which kind of paper you use for coal, colour pencils, or in our case, watercolour.
A miracle has occured: the creative thought has started spreading within my family, and my sister started painting. Last weekend I was watching her with slightly bulging eyes as she played around on thin print paper with some brushes that were in appalling state. At this point I decided that instead of my old article on art supplies, I’d need to write a more thorough piece on what you should buy if you choose to pass your time painting. So much more thorough that I am going to split them and talk about papers in a separate blog post, while today I’ll tell you all I know about brushes. So let’s jump right into paintbrushes A-Z.
Are brushes important?
You can pay enormous amounts on paintbrushes and yet achieve horrible results, but the opposite is also true: a cheaper brush can be suitable as long as you choose consciously. A good brush is hand-made, even the relatively cheaper ones, so you should consider it as an investment. At the same time, I’d like to crush the legend that only a super expensive brush can be good quality: I have been working with synthetic for a few months now and reach just as good results as before.
Imagine that you hate painting in a book. You prefer doodling on individual pieces of paper because you are afraid you spoil it and then the look of the entire sketchbook is destroyed. If you happen to draw in a sketchbook for some strange reason, you use a wire-bound one, so you can just tear the page out if you mess up the drawing. But despite all this, you still go to workshop and bind yourself a real, hard cover sketchbook.
It’s been a while since the New Medium series was present on the blog, but a few weeks ago I laid my hands on something interesting: I met the Finetec Pearlcolors paints on Youtube first and immediately concluded that it would probably be years before I can buy them in Hungary. Next thing I knew, I found them in a Hungarian webshop for art supplies.
Those of you who have knocked over wine glasses or have dropped cherries on your white shirts will know from experience that nature has provided us with plenty of pigments. To put it more commonly, these things leave ugly marks on textile. And on paper…
I have long been toying with the idea of trying the different natural pigments that painters of the past used, or to learn what is the biology behind the Milk Maid, for example, but I haven’t had the opportunity to delve into this complicated subject yet. So for the moment, I stayed on safe grounds and decided to experiment with a cup of tea and coffee.
Up to this day I am not entirely sure whether this is an ‘abstract mountain resort’ or ‘spider’s web in front of a galaxy’, but we can agree on one fact: today we are doing a minimal style painting. You might have met this image before in my post about masking fluid, as this painting was my first attempt at using this fab (?) accessory – probably this is the reason why all the lines quiver. But with all this said, I really advise trying this material, and this is why I put together this little tutorial. So this is how you create the web in front of the galaxy (or whatever) painting:
As we all know, setting aside only 15 minutes a day for creating is real nourishment for the soul. Not to mention that it will have a very good effect on your creativity if it becomes part of your daily routine. It’s pity that it doesn’t really work – not even for me, even though I use my brushes fairly often. Last year I made an attemptat painting every single day, and this year I did this one week long art challenge of repeat patterns again, coming up with super-exciting results.
How it works
Last year I only painted whatever came to my mind, the point was to get myself painting every single day. This year, however, I took the task more seriously and found a topic for every day to paint patterns. I like painting in small size, which is great help especially if I need to cover a piece paper in patterns each day, so as usual, I was working in A6 size. I couldn’t spare the same amount of time every single day, sometimes I had less energy to create, which is visible on the outcome, but after all I did manage to squeeze in some painting time day after day.
There is something liberating about creating something that has no purpose whatsoever. It was with this thought in mind that I made my own little zine a couple of weeks ago.
So what is a zine? To put it very simply, a zine is a unique or small circulation book/magazine. It is usually self published and therefore has no rules about the content, you can fill it according to your heart’s choice. I strongly suspect that ‘zine’ is a short form of ‘magazine’ but this is not proved as far as I know.
I don’t really think there are rules to creating a zine (the entire point is complete freedom), but there are certainly some noticeable trends. In comparison with those, my little zine is completely different, I guess I should call it a miniature scrapbook rather than a zine, but then, we know it since Shakespeare, that names are not necessarily essential (after all, a rose would smell just as sweet even if it weren’t called a rose, right? ;)).
So, to get to the point, I put together a little book of myself. I worked with the technique of collage: I cut, glued, tore the raw material. The original idea came from a video by Jordan Clark, in which she shows how to make a little book by folding a simple A4 size paper. I wouldn’t be a notebook-nerd if I hadn’t known immediately that I need one like that.
My ‘new mediums‘ coloumn is returning in a little irregular way: I didn’t experiment with a completely new technique, but I was trying out a supply made for watercolour artists: masking fluid.
Those working with watercolour will know that with this technique it is kind of impossible to paint white surfaces. If you want white, you need to leave the area blank and the white of the paper will give the colour. But sometimes this is quite difficult: let’s suppose you want to paint a swirl of snowflakes in front of a dark sky. This means you’d have to paint around all the millions of tiny flakes… Great… Well, it really is great now, because masking fluid solves the issue.
What is this section?
One of the conclusions I drew from the illustration workshop was that I’ve become a bit lazy: I am not experimenting enough with new techniques, I am happy in my bubble of watercolours. Of course, there is nothing wrong with dwelling deep in one medium and learning all the secrets but if you don’t get out of your comfort zone you miss a lot of fun. So I’ve decided to start a new series on the blog: I’m going to try techniques that are new to me and tell you guys about my experiences.