Professional Artist Karen Vernon Explores the Wonders of Watercolor on Claybord Textured
As a watercolorist, I want to entice the viewer into my paintings with extremely vibrant colors and intricate patterns.
I achieve this dimension in watercolor by working on Claybord Textured made by Ampersand Art Supply. This painting is 42" x 60" with the images painted life size, inviting the viewer to enter the garden.
"Rose Emporium Series 1 appears to be a complex piece, but was simply created by layering and lifting multiple colors and values."
Very early in the development of the painting, this exceptional surface allows me to easily create luminous colors with deep contrasting values at a level I cannot achieve on paper.
Unlike other surfaces, Claybord Textured allows me to easily make changes if I choose, and I can stack layers of color without any worry of the underlying pigment moving or lifting. I can also remove layers of color or completely recover white at any time. Finally, I love the fact that I can frame my watercolors without glass! Given the brevity of this article, I want to focus in on two of my favorite techniques on Claybord Textured -- glazing and lifting.
Begin with large washes
I begin my paintings by working wet into wet on the board, using a large mop brush to lay in passages of wet paint, establishing the position of the lights and darks and creating the large shapes of my composition.
Step 1 - Lay in large passages of wet paint onto a wet board.
In "Rose Emporium Series 1", I used Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue for the mid to dark values and Hansa Yellow for the sunlit areas that were not to remain white. When these initial washes dried, I began layering paint, segmenting the first areas of color and developing the brights and darker values. I next developed the painting further by adding layers and lifting color (an additive/sub-tractive process used to break the patterns of the painting into smaller areas). I also started to make color and value choices (whether they needed to be duller, brighter or darker).Prior to lifting, I layered or glazed color over color (A glaze is the layering of color on top of DRY pigment.) I allowed each layer of pigment to dry before laying down the next.
Step 2 - Phthalo Blue is glazed over a dry wash, adding value and intensity.
If I work on damp or wet color, the color underneath may move or lift. I use this glazing technique frequently because it gives the artwork the dimension and complexity that creates an expressive, lively painting. After I have applied several glazes, I begin lifting through various layers of color, lightening values.
Step 3 - Washes, glazing and lifting create a complex pattern of color and value.
Lifting is simple and there is no need to use masking materials. I use a 1" flat brush, soft bristle brush or old brushes that no longer have a sharp point. I use the edge of my at brush to create lines. The corner of the same flat and bristle brushes are used to scrub off paint, create shapes or add highlights in specific areas. In order to create a lift, a good general rule is to lift the brush up on its tip or edge, rather than using the side of the brush. A lighter touch will create a partial lift, lifting only a layer or two of color.
Step 4 - Swiping along a ruler with a at brush creates a very straight line.
More pressure on the brush lifts back to white. I keep a desk blotter next to my paintings when lifting color. After I lift the color, I swipe the brush on a blotter to clean it. Using the blotter assures me that my brush is clean and guarantees that I lift color rather than scrub color into the surface. It is a lift and swipe clean process. I continue this glazing/lifting technique until I achieve the desired depth and dimension. I often reglaze yet another color over a lifted area, leaving the hint of light coming though the surface. "Rose Emporium Series 1" appears to be a complex piece, but was simply created by layering and lifting multiple colors and values.
About the Author
Karen Vernon is a professional artist living in Brenham, Texas. She has more than 40 years of painting and teaching expertise. Her work is widely shown and collected by galleries and museums both nationally and internationally.
See more of Karen's work at: www.karenvernon.com.