One evening two weeks ago, I decided to do a small watercolour each evening as part of #paintseptember on Twitter.
With little time for the evening painting, I needed to work small. I used an A5 size (6 by 8 inches) watercolour pad with a taped border of just under ¾ inch.
Because I was working small, I was able to relax, just have fun with it and not worry too much about what I was going to paint. I was going to follow the paint and use my intuition.
I began by wetting the paper generously using my one inch hake brush. Then, using a wetted half inch bright I would take colour freshly squeezed from the tube and apply it directly to the paper, pretty much at random. First, the yellow, then the reds and then the blues and finally indigo or Payne's grey or earth colours.
Then I manipulated the paint on the paper, using clear water to encourage bleeding and merging and runs, and playing with the paint using my hands, an old credit card, paper, sponge, tissue, a worn dish scourer.
The first paintings
The falling star was a result of exploiting an accident. A speck of semi-dried paint had fallen on the paper and I streaked it. Why not a falling star. Especially now that the upper cloud had become an alien face.
A similar process on the second painting, but this time I was getting the feeling of distant sunlit mountains and an indistinct foreground. as an experiment I added rock salt crystals to soak up the paint. and give the sense of rocky texture.
And this feeling of landscape became stronger with the next set of paintings done over the course of the following days. Particularly as I used an old credit card to blend and push the paint in the lower part of the painting. I had created mountains!
Some of the paintings were done using the dried leftover paint from the evening before, resulting in a faded, less intense colour.
And one of them was based on a print, taken from the initial layer of intense colour.
And then matters took an interesting turn with this one. I had used up my watercolour pad and turned to some other paper of much lesser quality which I had lying around. because this paper has less sizing, the watercolours soak right in , no running or bleeding. I started pushing the mountains up. The initial mountain colour had become horribly brownish and I quickly sponged it out. Now I had a clear division between the upper and lower section, but no feeling of sky. Instead I had the sense of earth, the sense of the Australian earth in drought.
I'm viewing the ground from above. I'm drawing the fence lines of farmer's paddocks, which become the fence wires themselves. I'm drawing lines using watercolour pencils. I'm applying white gouache paint on the edge of a credit card. I'm sponging paint as texture to give variety to the ground. I'm blotting paint with my fingers. I'm smudging a blob of white gouache which looked too stark. In the meantime the words "Crawford's Run" keep echoing in my head. (A "run" in Australia was a large tract of land occupied by a squatter to run cattle or sheep. And there is a Crawford and he did have a run! Crawford, James, ‘Emu Creek’ run, squatter in Portland Bay District )
With this one, I did start out by looking at some extremely enlarged photos I had taken of water tumbling over rocks. and I did start out with the intention of laying down a rocky substrata. I'm using more of the sense and feel of rock, rather than a visual memory or even looking at the reference photograph, as I sponge on colour and use the watercolour pencils on the damp paper to create texture and depth. Then I scrape and smudge and use the paint tube to apply the white gouache. I am feeling flow, rather than water specifically.Now, when I look at it, I see a greater resemblance to bark than to water...but both have the same sense of growth and flow.
Finally just to finish up what has become a rather long post, here are two of the more recent abstracts using watercolour, watercolour pencils and gouache.