Welcome to the second step in our discussion of creating my Yogi Bear parody of Èdouard Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass painting. Yesterday we covered drawing the composition and prepping the art for painting. Grab your smock because today it’s about to get a little bit messy.
I like Winsor & Newton watercolor paints. They have tasty colors that go down smooth. They also make waaaay too many colors. I only buy maybe 15 – 20 colors, then mix them to get what I want. Some artists like using paint right out of the tube, so they buy everything. Good for them. Better for the pockets of Mr. Winsor and Mr. Newton.
Many students want to know what kind of brushes you use. I like soft brushes that hold their liquids well. The brushes I often use MUST come to a sharp point when wet. A good art store will let you test this with some water. You dip the brush into the water, then tap it on the lip of the cup. If the bristles snap to a point, you have found a good brush. If the bristles are forked in any way, avoid that brush. Yours will fork in time with use. You don’t want them to start out that way.
Name brand brushes don’t really matter, though, so long as you like what a particular brush can do for you. I do have this one larger Grumbacher flat brush I have had for at least 20 years that I like for quickly swathing on water and color in large areas like skies. I used it on this painting for some general ambient colors in the green of the trees, and for the large tree bark on the right. Otherwise I used a nice Round #12 brush made by Princeton Art & Brush Co. for 90% of the painting. For some of the smaller detail I used a #2 Round by the same company.
Ok, so when I started this painting, I wanted to do what is called an “underpainting” first. Underpaintings are when you paint down some color in areas where you want it to show through your final layers of paint at the end of the project. Since watercolor is a transparent medium, most of my underpainting will show through in some way.
The underpainting on this Yogi Bear piece needed to help the overall intended feeling of “fun”, so I chose a bright purple color for all of my shading. Then I began to paint a monochromatic image of various shades of purple that was going to help create a little depth for this very flat piece of artwork.
When I first tried this technique a few years ago, my tendency was to paint the purples too lightly, and most of them ended up getting completely covered which was a huge waste of time to have painted them to begin with. So now I paint them in a little more aggressively so that they can serve their purpose when the other colors are applied over them.
One tip about applying watercolor paint onto the very absorbent watercolor paper is to paint down a layer of water first, let it soak in a little, and while it is still wet, apply your paint. That way you can get colors on there with less chance of an edge starting to dry and causing weird lines to show up in the middle of your work.
Watercolor is kind of a living creature until it dries. It looks one way when you first lay down the paint, but as it dries, it starts to change. You can push it, pull it, wet it some more and it continues to change. It is your sculpture to play with until it dries the way you want it to, but know that it does still have a mind of its own.
When your underpainting is all dry, you are ready for the next step of adding the rest of your colors. Come back tomorrow as we begin that step in the process!