Project: Paint a Galaxy using Class Techniques

I have posted all the stages of this project so that I force myself to fully reflect on each!  Thank you, Ana Victoria for taking us so carefully through each stage.  

Materials used: Winsor and Newton "Cotman" pan colours, Ecoline fluid watercolours, acrylic inks and sepia indian ink. 

Graduation exercise: I found the graduation exercise tricky - how to use just enough water to create a "bead" to drag across the paper with added wash and not so much that the paper swims with water and backwashes are created.  My first attempts are below - not successful!  I repeated the exercise with a little more success when I used less water.  Unfortunately, I painted my galaxy on the back of those before  I could scan them and the galaxy had gone through the paper!  A few lessons learned there, then!  Lots more practice needed...

 

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The "little planets" exercise: This was supposed to be an exercise in transparency but I overdid the colour.  I repeated the exercise later on.  I liked some of the colour combinations but transparency has been lost in most cases - always when acrylic ink was used. I liked the salt effects (e.g. on the third one in the top row). I also like the texture created by indian ink but it can dominate and distract from the colour so must be used sparingly. I had no bleach to hand so could not try this out.  I did not have any alcohol but wondered how this might work?   I need to take more care with drawing circles - adding a small amount of colour to just tint the water at the first stage might help.  Also, some circles became too wet and the water and paint spilled out creating a mess.  I forgot to add pencil notes...

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Precision and pulse exercise: I got carried away with this one!  It was a bit like drawing a mandala - quite meditative. It also helped with practising graduation from the first exercise.  A bit messy and too intense in places but the precision was better than I expected. Drawing the bars such that they are actually line up together along a straight edge was a challenge - a lightly drawn pencil line might help me scaffold this skill. 

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A further precision and pulse exercise - I like the effect of drawing fine lines and graduating the colour. My lines waver quite a lot, though and the lengths vary! Circles were difficult to draw - hard to achieve consistency with narrow lines - maybe moving the paper around rather than my arm would help . I used Ecoline watercolours (similar to Dr PH Martins) for this.  I also repeated the planets exercise in order to achieve better transparency but not sure that I like these any better than the earlier ones - a bit bland. 

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Flower activity using a monochrome palette - I used a pre-mixed green paint for this left over from the previous exercise but ran out of the mix too soon.  I also did not set up the values as pre-mixed colours beforehand, which made it difficult to achieve consistent values. I added ultramarine to help correct some of the mess that I had made with this first flower - so much for monochrome!  The second flower did use a monochrome palette - the shapes are not uniform but the values are clearer.  The third flower - top right - has a reasonable range of values and the lines are more confident.  It also has a mysterious splodge...  I actually prefer the shape of the first flower for all its faults. 

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Jelly fish activity: this was fun but the many narrow tendrils were very difficult to draw consistently.  Narrowness and length are needed and so there must be a lot of paint on the brush but it must be applied with the lightest pressure.  Hmmm.  The colours have not scanned well - the red and ultramarine are a bit too bright.  The colour graduations in the original are better than my earlier attempts. 

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Galaxy project: I must confess to not being wild about this idea but I did my best. I used a red-violet indian ink, pan colours in various blues and a turquoise and carbon black acrylic ink. A large area on the left began to take on a spherical shape so I turned it into a huge planet.  I tried to unify the colour by glazing areas.  I am a Scorpio so I looked up the constellation and added this, along with the plough (Big Dipper) and cassiopeia.  I need to work more slowly, be patient and allow paint to dry properly and work on small areas at a time.  I did not achieve a precise white rim...! (Sorry)

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