Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Imbibing Alcohol and Sneezing Houses

Yes, who would ever think that alcohol and sneezing houses go so well together?

I received a great compliment about my work this past weekend at the NJSCBWI 2014 conference. Actually, many! A lot of compliments on my work (always exciting), but the one that I took a little certain pride in is making people look twice at my watercolors. They were surprised when I told them that they were not done digitally but good ol' fashioned watercolors! HA! That's right. I fooled them.

What are my secrets? A couple things:

1. Modern, smaller particle sized, watercolor paints

2. Use of a dispersant in the watercolor paint solution

(Note: this is the boring paragraph, and it's only of interest to people who like these tips in technique) First, paints with smaller particle sizes are preferable to the more traditional colors. When doing washes, the bigger particles in the traditional watercolor show up. Boooooo! This is especially true in cerulean blue, french ultramarine, and raw sienna washes. To get a smoother wash, go for the pathalos, quinacridones, hansa yellows, etc.

Second was a happy discovery to create the ultimate smooth wash. It's called alcohol. No, not drinking it. Incorporating a little bit of rubbing alcohol in a mixture of water and paint helps disperse the paint pigment. Like oil and water, alcohol repels water particles. With the addition of mixing rubbing alcohol, the alcohol prevents the particles in the paint to clump together and keeps the particles in suspension. This causes the paints to stay wet even longer on the paper, and keeps the wash even. As an example, the second snow scene is a redo. Even with Prussian Blue, a small particle paint, the wash wouldn't go evenly until I introduced the alcohol. HOORAY!

Lastly, I am exploring shapes in my work. The houses above are influenced by Dan Yaccarino's exciting shapes and colors. It'll take a bit more work, but I am happy where it's going.

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