#4 Granulating Pigments
During the last three years I have learned that watercolorists love pigments and not just color choices (and there are many), but the special properties that these pigments hold and how they interact with the paper and other pigments.
One of the most amazing things watercolor does is called granulation. Granulation occurs when the powdered pigment is more coursely ground, and/or is also a heavy pigment. As you add water the pigment spreads out and when it is applied the pigment settles on the paper. Granulating pigments due to their weight and size, settle further down into the texture of the paper, producing granulation as seen in the photograph above. Granulating pigments create awesome textures in nature for bark, rocks and more! If you want to know which pigments are granulating check out Daniels Smiths website. You can actually choose "granulating" in a drop down menu and it will list any of it's 1600+ colors that give this texture. If you are interested in learning more about creating texture in watercolor I will be teaching a two evening class in August--more details to follow.
***Important items to note:
During my "college years" I painted with oils, thinning the colors with turpentine to get them to run and drip. Many people would say you thin your oils down so much why not just use watercolors? The fact was that I had tried watercolors a couple of times, and I didn't like them. My limited knowledge of the techniques, and my limited supply of tools gave me poor results. So I set them aside. After picking up watercolors again in 2010, I found them to be magnificent! I was now ready to let this be my medium, and I have put in a lot of time gaining new knowledge, and supplies to achieve a lot better results. So with this series of articles I would like to let everyone know why I love watercolors and what it is about them that makes them so spectacular.
Watercolors are resoluble! What exactly does this mean? Watercolors are made using the binder gum arabic. Gum arabic is able to dry and then be rewetted into a liquid form. Before painting I use a spray bottle and squirt my palette and colors allowing the water to soak into the colors for about 10-15 minutes. Personally I like the dry colors because #1 I can control the amount of paint on my brush. The more I swipe over the dryer paint with water on it the darker the color. When the paint is fresh from the tube you put your brush into the paint and you have no idea how much pigment you have on your brush. #2 No waste of paint--When the paint runs out on the palette I squeeze fresh paint and let it dry. When squeezing fresh paint I put a couple of drops of gum arabic into the paint and mix it with a palette knife. I find the extra gum arabic helps the paint when rewetting. Also, if I am going to paint a very deep dark area I will squeeze fresh paint and add just a little bit of water. The fresh paint will give you the deepest darkest value. Some watercolorist will say "Only use fresh paint!" But remember that is their way of working, be careful of those who think there is only ONE WAY. For me this is the way I prefer to work; it is producing some good work, and gives me a lot of flexibility. It is not the only way, but being able to rewet the colors after they dry is one reason I love watercolors! My colors are now ready for painting... off to have some fun!
The past three Wednesday evenings I taught a watercolor class at NMC with 8 enthusiastic adult students. In the past I have had students bring in their own photographs to work from, but I found it difficult to give meaningful instruction when one students is painting a portrait, another a boat and another a forest of trees. Each subject requires a little different handling and giving feedback to the students was much more difficult. The big change I made in this class was having everyone (including the instructor) paint the same scene. I chose an "old mission" scene at sunset because it gives a lot of opportunity to work with a broad range of values, textures, and lends itself to multiple techniques. Students were very receptive and as I was teaching I found that I could refer to my painting pinpointing how I was handling composition, color choices, and creating mood through values.
Students asked a lot of questions, and worked extremely hard on these paintings. In 3 evenings they saw what it takes to create a watercolor painting from start to finish. It is my hope that as they continue on their journey they will be able to take what they have learned and apply it to their own painting projects.
Thanks to all of these students who made for a really great class.
If you are interested in watercolor painting and don't really know how to start or what to do, I would love to see you in one of my classes!