Let’s see. . . it’s on page 130 of a book that came out 10 months ago, which means that I turned in the manuscript about 2 years ago, which means that I painted it around 2013 or ’12 from a memory of a trip to Edinburgh that I took in 2006 . . .
. . . so that’s a long, long, long time ago. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve held a paintbrush that, when our Dear Reader Deborah Hatt requested that I show some Winter watercolor tutorials and I dragged myself to my workroom to get out the necessary equipment, I could not locate my paper supply. True story. I have stacks of the stuff (Canson 90 lb), and it is, as you can imagine, a rather crucial ingredient to the magic I make.
But last July, when I did a major clean up in my work space, and by the way the was the same time I quit painting, it seems that I found a diabolically clever place to stash about a thousand sheets of watercolor paper. I had found a place to keep it well out of my sight, as that was how I was feeling at the time. I haven’t been in a good mood for much of 2016.
Well, I looked high and low for that big stack of paper and, after looking hither and yon, I took a Zen Time Out and reasoned that looking through drawers and in book cases was a waste of my time as the paper could only be lurking in an appropriately paper-stack-sized space. Duh. But by then, I’d lost interest, so I went to my computer and watched Love Actually on Netflix instead of continuing the search. Yeah, it’s a stupid movie, but it’s a great stupid movie. Oh, how I wish that I could wake up from this nightmare and find that I live in London and that High Grant is my Prime Minister and I serve him tea every day.
Oh well. Back to the quest: I turned on my Himalayan Rock Salt lamp and inhaled the mysterious good vibes and trudged back to my workroom. And lo, there was my stack of Canson 90 lb watercolor paper, right in front of my face, on the (eye-level) middle shelf of the same closet I’d searched thoroughly the day before. Wow, I said to myself. That is a really excellent place to hide a shit load of paper!
So, Winter. How To. And all.
Because I have not painted in quite a while I am going to start us out with something super easy. So that’s why I am referring you (above) to page 130 of Gardens of Awe and Folly, specifically to the background of that little picture, which looks like this (below):
To the best of my memory, I believe that I painted it with my usual paints, a mix of cheap Grumbacher and slightly better Winsor Newton, plus some homemade gray paint I made by mixing blue and burnt sienna (which could be the topic of a future, incredibly boring tutorial on mixing paint):
I make a wash of blue and gray:
I’ve said before that the good thing about using only one kind of paper your whole life is that you get to know almost everything that paper will and won’t do for you. In the case of my Canson 90 lb, I know just how wet it has to be to get a good bleed when I work “wet-in-wet”, like this:
I am working quickly here, using more color than I really want because I also know my paints very well, and I know how much lighter these colors will be when they dry:
Oh, how I loves me a good bleed. This really is my favorite part of painting, letting watercolors do what watercolors do! You never now how it’s going to turn out! You’ll either get a happy surprise that you never could have made happen on purpose, or something that looks like puke (in which case you just throw it away and start over and not take it personally).
Anyhoo, while the paints are still wet, I am going to get my Chinese White paint and load up my brush directly from the tube:
And then I’m going to dab it hither and thither — look how cool it bleeds!
(Yes, I am wearing band aids. Dry Winter weather, delicate figure tips, you know how that goes.)
After letting the paints dry, I take a look at what I’ve got, and I think I can work with it:
Next, I load up my teeny tiniest brush with a very watery blue:
And I test out its color strength (and to check whether I remember how to paint trees after such a long hiatus) on a scrap piece of paper:
I want to emphasize how necessary it is to keep a “practice” bit of paper near you when you paint. I use it to try out color mixes, saturations, and techniques before I attack my Work In Progress. Save yourself some heartache and have a practice run at anything you’re about to do before you make it part of the permanent record, OK?
I am using acrylic paint here, called Titian White, because it’s easier to use than the Chinese White, or so I thought, a choice that I regret now that I look at it because I am so out of practice that my handling of the paint lacks finesse. I might as well be scrubbing it on with a busted twig I got from the holly bush in my front yard :
So this is how it looks in the end:
And, because I am an ILLUSTRATOR and can’t stand looking at a picture without a narrative, I have to add some footprints in this pic to give it a bit of a story:
So that is the gist of how to paint a bit of Winter. Neither Taffy nor I think this is a particularly well-done bit of work, but it’s my first time back at the old paint box and although I did expect to get back in the swing immediately, I can see now that it’s going to take some time and patience to get my groove back.
So, next week, we are going to have another go at painting Winter.
The Champagne-O-Meter is at the ready . . .
. . . and my crack team of assistants is standing by. . .
. . . and, little darlings, it’s going to be a long, cold, Trumpy Winter that we can’t dream or drink away, so we might as well paint it:
Have a great weekend, everyone, and we’ll meet back here next Friday to re-paint those background trees and have a go at those pines. You in?