Artist and workshop instructor Betsy Dillard Stroud shared insights into the workshop experience in the April 2011 issue of Watercolor Artist. Here she guides you through a painting she created at a very special workshop event, Paint Yosemite.
Making Mud and Lifting Out
After squirting fluid matte medium onto the surface of the paper, at random and into a space not more than about one-sixth of the painting, I also squirted dollops of quinacridone magenta, anthraquanoid blue and quinacridone nickel azo gold into the matte medium and squished it all around making mud. Then I began lifting out with my brush handle, drawing through the paint and lifting out the paint with a carved stamp. The straight lines are executed with a special palette knife that has prongs.
Creating Flat Shapes to Doctor Later On
Adding a dark jenkins green in a mass, I juxtapose some pyrrole red for the ultimate color splash. I will later do some negative painting to turn this area into the tall pine tree shape. I washed ultramarine upward from the original swathe.
Layering and Dropping in Color
I add a transparent layer of quinacridone nickel azo gold above the ultramarine and in the bottom left hand corner, dropping in some phthalo blue into the wet quinacridone. I also paint a layer of transparent ultramarine on the left middle of the painting to connect it with the other compositional areas of the same color. To connect to the bottom, I stamp images from a special carved stamp which resembles the intriguing shapes on the rock faces. I will add opaque paint to this later.
Adding Opaque to Contrast with the Transparent
I added opaque grays to suggest the massive, granite rocks of Yosemite, stamping them with linear stamps to suggest their linear markings. Opaque gray weaves through the painting like a thread joining all the elements. A second flat grayed mountainous image juts from behind the ultramarine image. You can see remnants of the red I spattered into the phthalo blue on the left, and also see phthalo blue on the right.
The Finished Painting
My purpose for Dreams of Yosemite (acrylic on paper, 30×22) was to utilize the wonderful properties of acrylic paint by combining opaque, translucent and transparent passages. Negative areas painted in opaque colors carve out shapes, which suggest both rocks and foliage. Stamping and calligraphy activate the surface of the painting.
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