With centuries of stuff lying around, Bixxy came up with about a dozen ancient rusty keys for us to use as models from which to paint. First Jane demonstrated painting a key wet on dry and washing over the top, and then she showed us how you could do a wash as a first layer, let it dry, and then add the key on top, so that your whites become whatever color the underwash was. It's like glazing in oil paint--who knew you could do it with watercolor? Here is a picture of Jane's, to show just how soppy wet the paper is while she is working:
As Jane puts it, you have to be brave and "whack it in" when you're working with water and color. You can't be afraid you're going to ruin your picture, and in fact even if you do think it's ruined at some point, just keep doing stuff (add more, try some flecks, turn the paper a different way to control the run, all working quickly!) and it may save it and/or make it better! She was proven right many times during the week.
Here are the two keys that I did. The first is painted with a small brush, wet on dry, using thick coats of paint on the key, and leaving white highlights. Then (before the paint dries) you wet a big mop brush and run it all over the paper around the key, in a clear water wash. After that, you take your brush and selectively touch the key at the points where you want it to bleed, and you bleed out color into the clear water to create the color wash. You decide where you want to keep your hard edges and where you want them soft, and you do both by deciding where to touch the key and where to leave it alone. At that point, if you want more color in your wash, you can also drop color directly into the wash. I was pleased with how the color ran at the bottom on this one, as if the rust was running off the actual key.
For this second key, I created a smoothly graduated wash of yellow and orange. I waited for it to dry (meaning, in that very damp climate, that I had prepared the wash a few hours before!) and then I drew and painted the key on top of it. You can see that wherever I left "whites" or highlights, the paper is actually the color of the underlying wash--pale yellow or pale orange. (But it's amazing how bright they are, isn't it?) After that, I went around the key again with water and bled the colors of the key out over the paper, and also dropped in a little more of the yellow and orange to intensify the background where the water from bleeding the image had washed away the color. And of course, you can control how you want the paint to run and bleed--I tilted the paper up on its side so the paint bled out sideways from the key instead of going downward as it did on the previous version.
Tomorrow I'll show you a beautiful painting of a dovecote that Jane made by preparing a wash ahead of time and then creating the painting over the top as a second layer.
On Thursday afternoon, we had yet another village outing, this time to Saint Loup Lamairé, to see the sights and take reference photos for future paintings. There is nothing more picturesque than a European village, and this one was no exception, having a villa, a tower, some cyclamen-carpeted woods, lots of quaint streets, and a weir! Here they are...
These cyclamen are not planted, they are naturally occurring, like bluebells in England--gorgeous!
There's Jane, shooting every angle with her little camera, and that's the dovecote in the background.
That's Bix with me, standing in the "sweet spot" for painters of this town. And of course, I go nowhere without finding a friendly cat. This one liked Cristina a bit better, so while she played with it, I photographed it.
Hopefully you will see some of these scenes (and more) crop up in future paintings par moi!