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Is Gouache the magic watercolor bullet


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Grapes and Silver Bowl
Transparent Watercolor
Jacqueline Knott

Jacqueline knott – a compelling transparent watercolor artist came to my attention many years ago.

    What does she know about art that you could do?
    As you go through these steps you will learn another approach to improve your art.
    And … sometimes… you have to see to believe… that something is possible, no?
    Sometimes a painting just sends shivers down your spine.
    Other times re-creating a painting done by another artist … even if you don’t know exactly what they did … helps you attempt a new technique.

Transparent watercolor can… drive some artists up the wall.On the other hand … what if… there is another way… to achieve a stunning affect?

    What others have found is that the quality of their work vastly improves … by studying the technique of master painters.
    Would you be upset … if you could take years off your learning curve?
    Would it be a bad thing … if your paintings seem to overnight … become compelling to viewers? I thought so. Let’s see what Jacqueline Knott is doing in this painting.

Luscious colors… are a signature of Jacqueline Knott’s work. And one of the best ways to hone your compositional talents … is to de-construct as best you can … just what a master painter is doing.

Jacqueline Knott’s work ‘Grapes and Silver Bowl’…is a ‘wow’ magnet. The sharp detail coupled with the velvety transition of color… and the contrasting silver bowl … just ramps your imagination into over-drive.

Grapes and Silver Bowl –holds your attention in a vise-like grip. But how? What is Ms. Knott doing? And if you have ever tried transparent watercolor… your head is spinning. Let me be clear… this deconstruction will not attempt to copy Ms. Knott’s painting. She has her own instructional videos for that. This deconstruction will not attempt to match her method of painting.

Color is the thing that drives me… … and this is one way to hit the bulls-eye… everytime.

Jacqueline Knott… blows up the color. And with transparent watercolor… you have washes and deep color theory to contend with, hair dryers and order of layering. Is there a simpler way?

Is Gouache the magic watercolor bullet?

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Gouache step by step on Black Paper

Take a look at the Step by Step image.… Note we start with Black paper. Yes. And the simplest type of watercolor medium with dark paper… is gouache. Gouache is opaque watercolor. The closest thing to acrylic – without being acrylic. So you have no fast acrylic drying time worries.

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gouache triangle composition on Black Paper

The compelling composition of this painting is a Triangle. The base is the table top. And the grapes march upwards towards a peak… then descend down the other side. All the action takes place inside a triangle.

Red draws the eye… but I don’t like to limit the red. Varying the reds into pale tints or juggling the intensity… is where it’s at. Note… in the Step by Step… I have marked a ‘horizon line.’ This line separates the yellow-reds from the shadowy blue-reds.

By starting with white gouache … I am laying a foundation upon which I will drop the reds, yellows, blues and greens.

The bowl creates the sparkle… simply white qouache against the black paper.

I vary the red intensity of the grapes… so the eye can dance around, back and forth, up and down over the grapes… as the light bounces among the grapes.

Are you a Motion Junkie?

My color application technique…

      Because opaque watercolor can turn to ‘mud’ really fast… I stay away from over-painting. If you catch yourself… just brushing in the color, then brushing some more… and for some reason you feel that that more is better… so you brush some more…

you are headed for disaster.So here is my technique….

        1- With your brush – drop some water into your grape circles.
        2- Get some white onto the tip of your brush and holding your brush at a 90 degree angle to your paper… just lightly tap the tip… into the water… then gently stir just once or twice.

Then stop.And this is where a lot of artists begin to lose the painting.

        They just cannot stop their hands from stirring in the color.

I have found some artists – are motion junkies.

        So stop stirring.
        3- Rinse the brush… then tap the tip into your red of choice… and holding the brush at a 90 degree angle to the paper… tap the red into your grape circle.
        4- Now rinse your brush. Then tap your brush into the yellow or blue… depending on which side of the horizon line you are working on… and tap the tip into your grape cirlce. Swirl 2 times and stop.
        5- depending on how much tint or intensity you want…go back to step 1.

magic watercolor bullet

Here is my result

No Motion Junkie. Just let the water, the color, the paper and mother nature… do the work.

Tools are the key to this kind of painting I use a Uniball Signo white Watercolor pen (refillabe- by unsrewing the pen head from the handle and using an eye dropper with white opaque color), a series #7 sable brush, and a #8 Round brush.

Now here’s the rub. This painting was not done straight through in one sitting. I periodically let areas dry… and took multiple coffee breaks and even took time out to catch parts of March Madness. Because fresh eyes… will often reveal minute necessary changes … necessary to amplify the overall affect of your painting.

Let’s take a quick review before we proceed.

    Color vibrancy – check.
    You swirled in the white with and stopped and rinsed. – check.
    You held your brush at a 90 degree angle to the paper, swirled the color in with 1 or 2 strokes and stopped. – check.
    What’s left… the shadows of the table cloth and the handle of the silver bowl.

The table cloth is easy. Just grab some white… and apply full strength to the really white areas of the table cloth. As for the shadowy areas… use the #7 brush… draw a white line… and use water to pull the color down and away.

Use the Uniball pen for the handle and the flutes along the top of the bowl. And do not worry if your hand is jittery. This is a water color pen… so if you make a huge blob… just water it out.

You may need to attempt this picture a few times… before you get the hang of it. But once you get over your anxiety… this is a technique… you will come to love.

What I find compelling in this composition… is the unexpected play of colors and contrasts. Lastly… to add the sugar to the grapes…you can use your uniball pen… to just jot in the highlights. Remember… if your painting does not… command the eye… you should re-think your composition … before setting brush to paper.

Author – Mars Burnell

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