Monday, March 25, 2013

Art Class is Never a Straight Line

A straight line up, that is. As in, steady and continued success, getting that little bit better all the time. Sometimes I feel like I'm just getting better at making friends with failed attempts. I don't like the word "failure" seems so finite. I understand that "failing" is part of the process. It is part of learning. So I have been LEARNING a lot lately! 

Here, I'll show you:
We all remember The Owl and The Pussycat...don't we?! I've been wanting to do an illustration of this poem for donkeys yonks. I finally did a scribble one night at art class that turned out quite was one of my first watercolour moments, and I proceeded to paint the subject of my drawing first. That was my first mistake! How on earth was I going to paint the water and sky and get a nice even watercolour wash around those shapes? Well, I let it sit without colour for months on end, thinking about it, before finally accepting it as a write off. Knowing this, I decided to find out just how hard it would be to add colour to the background that was such an irregular shape. As suspected, it was a ridiculous thing to attempt. Write off No.1 looked like this:


Time for attempt number two. I spent a nice solid hour or so drawing my friends in their pea green boat before my pen decided to leave a giant blob on my drawing that made me grunt with disapproval. It looked like this:

It might not be that obvious in that scan. But it was enough for me to go back to the drawing board, and draw this image AGAIN (not easy to remain interested at this point I might add)...but I persevered, drew the image, took it to art class and painted the subject with masking fluid. (Note: that stuff seriously messes with your paintbrushes so don't use a precious one!) 
I got all cocky about a few recent successes with washes, and painted the sky and water...then....AAAARGHHHHHHH!  The paper somehow had dirty blotches on it that I didn't see until AFTER my wash went one! Failed attempt #3. Oh, I mean, my third lesson. See? How did those grotty finger print blotches get on there?

So here is what I have learned about watercolour.
1. Make friends with not getting it right the first 3 times (at least).
2. Don't paint the subject first.
3. Make sure your paper is really really really clean! I.e. try not to touch it other than to draw on it! Sounds easy enough? Not!
4. Use gouache instead.

OK maybe #4 is cynical, but I had a bit more success with gouache (my art teacher has been on my case to give it a bash for about six months, after watching me struggle with watercolour). 
Here are a couple of more successful Juicy Roo-esque drawings. 

These were a little more successful because I did a watercolour wash over the entire drawing first, then painted the detail using gouache after. The gouache is definitely more forgiving than water colour, and dries a lot flatter. A much better strategy. However I still love how pretty watercolour can be.

So there we have it folks. Art class, for me, is a series of peaks and troughs rather than a continual increase. The troughs do make the peaks sweeter. Sorry about the hiatus. From me, I'm sure you have come to expect nothing more. That's something I must work harder to modify. Later peeps xo

1 comment:

Crayon Chick said...

I would have easily put it in the 'I can't work on it until I know it's going to be perfect' pile. It can't be judged a failure if I haven't actually finished it, now can it?!! I've never used gouache before and would love to have a play. You've clearly got the knack! Good to see you here again.