Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Swirling wheels of color.

Since it's fall and all, and since I'm new to Seattle and have only a handful of friends here, and since I am constantly looking for new ways to hone my painting skills, I signed up for a technique-building watercolor class.

Our class met for the first time last night. Our teacher is hoot! Oh my goodness did I laugh. She had all of these fabulous one-liners like "I don't like this paper. It smells like dirty feet." After telling us a bit about herself and her relationship with her mother (seriously), she asked each of us twelve students to introduce ourselves and explain why we were in the class. Honestly, my main reason for joining the class is to meet some fellow artists in Seattle. Like I mentioned above, I have only a handful of friends here and need some social interaction with humans other than my husband after working alone all day. But, for some reason, I was kind of skittish about saying this to a room full of strangers. Instead, I talked about wanting to hone my technique and have some fun. Both true statements.

Our first class was devoted to discussing supplies and making a color wheel on different types of paper to experiment with the effects each has on the paint. We made our wheels by smearing a liberal dose of primary (red, yellow & blue) pigments on the paper and then using water to mix the secondary and tertiary colors.

Hot press paper is the smoothest. It has been treated with heat (kind of like ironing) to create a smooth finish. Our teacher said that only 1% of her students prefer hot press paper. I happen to like it. The effect is quite pop-py, which captivates my present obsession with all things pop. The paint does not move much on hot press paper, which makes it a fine choice for illustrations and detailed pieces.

We also tested a Fabriano cold press paper. The cold press has a bit of texture and really dances with the colors. I like cold press paper for pieces where the color is the subject. The Fabriano paper is quite lovely.

We tested a rough paper as well. Rough paper feels a bit like sandpaper and is very textured. The rough paper we used was Arches. This is the stinky paper. I like working with the rough paper in stages. It layers quite nicely, but I feel a bit too out-of-control when I have a lot of paint and wetness on the paper at once. I can handle feeling a little o-o-c, but not crazy o-o-c where I might as well just dump every color I'd like to use on the paper and just see what happens.

We also testes some cheap paper. Honestly, when I'm sketching new ideas around the studio and just playing around, I use whatever I have: left-overs, cheap paper, paper board, you name it. The cheap paper we tested in class definitely did not hold up to the minimal painting I did on it and began to pill and rip a bit. Not cool.

For the class, I think I will put together a little home-made book of papers of mixed textures. It's all about learning and experimenting in a safe environment, so why the heck not?!

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