Friday, August 8, 2014

Orchid Study

Orchid Study A, 3.5x5"watercolor, ©Diane Mannion


Teaching a class in watercolor next season at Ringling Englewood, so I've been practicing.  After using watercolor for over thirty years as an illustrator, this medium meant "work" to me.

Have saturated my eyeballs with videos and watercolor books, have studied old and new master's work.  I've learned there's a lot I didn't know.  Now it's time to process this information and experiment with my "beginner's mind."  And I'm having fun!  Watercolor doesn't seem like work anymore.  There's a lot of truth in the old saying that if you want to learn something... teach it. 

Used photo reference I took myself.  The visual excitement starts here as part of the creative process.  I nag students over and over about how important this it!  Take your own photos!  Nothing replaces painting from life, but photos are a useful tool as long as they are not "copied" to look like a photo.  I look at a photo, on my monitor, iPad, or flat screen TV and pretend I'm standing in front of the subject, pretending I'm working from life.  I redesign and move things around to suit my composition.
My photo reference for this project snapped outside the front door.
Worked on 9x12" Arches 140lb cold press block.
Wanted to try four different versions, so I used masking tape and divided the block in four.  I love the crisp edge this gives when the tape's removed.
Orchid Study B.
Orchid Study C.
Orchid Study D.
All were sketched lightly with a standard #2 pencil that I erased here and there when the paint dried.  Study A and B worked with transparent, staining, and more opaque watercolors.  Study C and D worked with mostly transparent and limited palette colors.  

I like version, A best... but this was a project to loosen up and practice.  I like a little something about each version and maybe I'll try it in oils next.
Doing small studies is a great way to get better faster.  More is learned by doing ten small studies than one large painting.  So grab that masking tape and try a few small ones!  Works with oils, pastels, and acrylics also!

I'll be joining Artists Helping Artists in another, my fourth! 30 paintings in 30 days challenge for September.  I'll be working in watercolor this time.... hoping to do 1 hour studies.  Last I heard, over 400 artists from around the world and from almost every US state, have signed up.


martine paquet said...

This is such a great idea to paint small studies of the same subject! I will try it....
I love the way you handle watercolor !

Diane Mannion said...

Thanks, Marine! Can't wait to try a few more studies myself... fun!