Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Celebration of First Rhododendron of the Year!

Best Part of a February Rhododendron

3.5 x 2.5" ACEO "Learning Experience"

Yes, it is February, but I found a rhododendron blossom in my yard when I went out to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. I thought that rhodie would be a perfect subject to paint on some ACEO paper I received as part of a birthday gift. Besides, I've neglected this blog. I haven't painted anything very small recently to post here.

This has been an adventure doing this "failure" piece, but I think it is a great illustration of the ups and downs of an artist's endeavors. So, here goes on an account of the lessons I learned.

I started with watercolor pencils because I love to draw and thought that a few washes with lines would capture the tissue thin petals and the heavier buds. Yes, the drawing was great with expressive and flowing lines. I should have stopped there and stuck with using those pencils to sketch which I often do because they are so portable.

With watercolor pencils you can use a brush and water to make a traditional watercolor effect. And you can come back into the wash and make more lines with the pencils. That makes such an interesting effect. But, I couldn't get the values to be the same as the subject in front of me. To change up things, I moved to rendering a light blue grey background. That wasn't wonderful either. I worked back and forth, even using the fabulous white pencil that burnishes colored pencil drawings.

The tiny size of the paper was strange to me. 2.5 x 3.5" is really small when you've been working on large canvases. I did not want to give up. I so wanted to grab my acrylic paints and totally cover the parts that weren't working, but I was determined to see what I could do to "rescue" this piece just for the fun of it.

I learned long ago how to rescue botched watercolor paintings. Some could be saved and others had to be tossed or gessoed for another medium. A common rescue technique is to wash out a passage that isn't working. I tried that without much success. I resorted to the technique of using Chinese white paint to cover up or modify what isn't working well. Things were going downhill rather fast.

I ended with one part of this ACEO that was really nice, a postage stamp size painting. The rest was beyond rescuing, even the paper was starting to tear. So, I stopped and planned how to explain this learning experience. I picked up the package of ACEO paper to read the exact measurements and noticed for the first time that the watercolor paper is 80 lb. No wonder I had trouble after trouble. The texture was fighting the watercolor pencils, but most of all the paper wasn't the 140 lb. weight or heavier that I normally use. Duh, Joann!

If you've never heard of ACEOs, they are Art Cards Editions and Originals, an art format of 2.5 x 3.5" started by an eBay artist and marketed as Trading Cards. I've not been a fan of them. Do you think I had a subconscious block today? Tomorrow I'll be back on large canvases.

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