Trying Some New Techniques part 1: Watercolor

Nebula, 7″ x 10″ watercolor + gouache

If you’ve had a chance to check out the Fairy Tree Studios home page lately, you might have noticed that I finally added a few new pieces of art. I did some experimenting in adding stars and highlights to some night sky scenes with white gouache. I bought a set of gouache months ago for this very purpose (gouache, if you’re unfamiliar, is a paint that’s basically like a combination of acrylic and watercolor — it’s opaque like acrylic but water soluble like watercolor). I think I want to find a different type of brush for next time, but I’m pretty happy with my first attempts.

I’m not above checking out instruction books to learn other artists’ techniques, and I’ve got one now that gave some useful tips on getting darker, more opaque watercolor washes, especially in galaxy and night sky scenes. I’ve done a couple versions of this field of flowers now, a small one that I shared back in January (and have since sold) and this larger one, which I added the stars to. The challenge of keeping the paper wet enough to blend the color without oversaturating it is definitely greater on a larger piece of paper (plus I made the mistake of not priming it first — the smaller painting was done on a block, which eliminates this problem and apparently lulled me into a false sense of confidence). Thus, the sky isn’t as smooth a texture as I would’ve liked, but I think the stars help draw attention away from that (and no one but you, dear readers, will ever know that it wasn’t intentional).

Flower Field at Night, 11″ x 14″ watercolor + gouache

I’ve also ventured a little bit into abstract territory with a couple other paintings I’ve been working on, inspired by some gorgeous sand and rock formation photos from an Arizona magazine. My fiancé and I recently did some hiking at the Turkey Run State Park where I took some photos of the rock formations along the trails; I used a combination of those to try out some line drawings that are reminiscent of those formations. Painting all the stripes and contours is quite meditative for me right now, especially if I paint while listening to a talk or audiobook on my computer. I could see it someday becoming tedious, but for now the bright colors are enough to sustain me. In this first attempt, I stuck with some pretty simple contours, but in my next attempts I got a little more ambitious. (I do have a color palette picked out for the third one; I might start it even before I finish the second.)

Untitled painted rocks attempt #1, approx 9″ x 12″ watercolor

Wedding planning, cleaning. and some other hobbies/projects are still taking up a lot of my creative time, but I am getting better at getting back to the table more often, so hopefully I’ll have more to share soon — I’ve definitely got a few more ideas to get on paper.

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