I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Art is important because it makes us feel. So when I came across the watercolor paintings in Splash 16: Exploring Texture, I knew I had to share them here. Perhaps we’ll all hear a collective “aw,” as everyone opens this e-mail . . . that’s what I said, at least, when I saw these and the many paintings representing the latest in the Splash: Best of Watercolor series. Scroll down and see which one pulls at your heart the most, and read the descriptions by each artist to further understand their inspiration and/or process.
Meerkat Radar (transparent watercolor on 140-lb. rough Arches, 22×15) by David Rankin
Meerkats are delightful creatures. A ubiquitous feature of theirs is this distinctive posture where they stand around scanning the sky–ever watchful for their deadly nemeses–hawks. I have wildlife artist buddies who paint every strand of hair or fur. But I wanted my meerkats to feel furry–without painting one hair! This illusion of fur was achieved by starting at the top and working downward using very careful blends of beaded washes and pigment into wet brushwork, resulting in smooth fur–with no hairs! The sharp outer edges of their bodies then help define them. This is the magnificence of watercolor painting!
Distant Relatives (watercolor on hot-pressed archival watercolor board, 18×24) by Kyle Mort
I try to incorporate wit and humor into my paintings. I wanted to present these two bears together in the same space. They are, after all, both bears. The texture of the grizzly was built up by applying layers and layers of drybrush, each strand of fur done one at a time. These guys were meant to meet face-to-face.
Rainy Day (watercolor on 300-lb. cold-pressed Arches, 20×28) by Michael W. Bermel
Rainy Day was painted in the comfort of the warm, dry office of our home, a stark contrast to that magical day my camera captured our children splashing through puddles on the driveway. These photos and my quick crayon sketches supplied the foundation for my painting. Trying to capture the varied textures of nature and synthetic fabrics, I thrashed water over the paper’s surface with an oversized, water-saturated brush. I turned the paper at different angles to blow air at the pooling water, disturbing the semi-dried Winsor & Newton pigment to infuse the piece with movement.
Caring (transparent watercolor on 300-lb cold-pressed Arches, 15×22) by Wen-Cong Wang
Monkeys share a similar family structure as most other primates; the close, loving bond between mother and child is common. I found this wonderful family in a forest reserve and was touched by their affection. This painting was developed in the studio from a sketch and photos taken the same day. I paid special attention to the subject/environment relationship. The initial underpainting of wet-into-wet was a foundation for the tones and colors. For the soft fur, several layers of color were applied for depth and dimension. I gradually developed my piece as a whole while adding values and details. I used a smaller pointed brush to suggest some of the finer details around the monkeys as final touches.
Nike (watercolor with gouache accents on 140-lb cold-pressed Fabriano Artistico, 12×8.5) by Lei Chi
Nike is a shy greyhound we adopted after his career on the race-track. I developed his portrait from a photo taken on his favorite walk. The well-studied drawing is crucial to the painting’s success. Through drawing I became more acquainted with his character and discovered relationships between compositional elements. Layers of transparent washes were used to achieve the desired contrast of light and dark. Splattering paint by rubbing a toothbrush created the texture on the sidewalk. I used white gouache or mixtures of gouache and watercolor for the fur and highlights.
I wish that I could share all of the amazing work that’s found in Splash 16: Exploring Texture, (pre-order your copy here) but I hope that this gives you an idea of the high caliber of work within. Published for both art-lovers and practicing artists, you’ll get a glimpse at the painting process from each of the watercolorists featured, all centering around one theme: texture. And so it seems fitting that I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the artists in Splash 16, Cheryle Chapline: “Texture to a painting is like salt to food–each enhances one’s experience of the flavor of the subject.
Yours in art,
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