Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Watercolor test piece

One of my favorite artists and illustrators is Burton Silverman. I have a few of his books but they mostly deal with oils and drawing. Then I saw he had a book called "Breaking the Rules of Watercolor", and the images were stunning. It looks more like oils than watercolor, and I was very curious about his process so I bought the book.
I am teaching a watercolor illustration course this spring, so I wanted to try a piece or two using his suggestions, and I'm very happy with the first trial piece...

Elvis_Costello.jpg
Two things make this technique different from traditional watercolor; the surface is 3-ply Strathmore Plate Bristol paper. Very slick surface, harder than hot press watercolor paper. The colors slide on the paper and don't penetrate so deeply into the fibers, which means you can lift colors off to reveal the lighter areas of the image with a moist paper towel or a damp brush. The second thing is the addition of a bit of opaque white gouache to add a bit of haze, or semi-transparency to the color. It tends to deaden the vibrancy a bit, and makes things feel less garish than purely transparent colors can be. It will take lots of paintings to really get used to the feel of the paper, and to learn what can and can not be done with this technique, but so far, I'm pleased and intrigued with the possibilities.

1 comment:

journalrat said...

Rick, I just found your blog, and love your work.

I've been a fan of Burton Silverman for years too. Do you know that he has a video of him painting in watercolor? http://www.burtonsilverman.com/WebPages/ForSale_Film.html
The video I've seen is the one at the very bottom of the page called "Painting the Figure, Teresa" Watercolor Demonstration. (I've also see the oil painting video, but none of the DVDs.)

His books are wonderful but actually seeing him paint was not only eye opening, but delightful.

(And I'm just a fan, not related in any financial way to him or the video company.)

You used to be able to buy 5-ply Strathmore 500 series Bristol. I still have some of it in a flat file, but haven't seen it offered for sale and don't know if it is still available. If they still make it I recommend that you try this approach on the 5-ply— 4-ply is still available.

Your students are going to have a great time in class. I love your Costello.