In the February 2015 issue of Watercolor Artist, Carrie Waller describes her technique for intensifying colors and re-creating objects as monumental abstract forms in her still life paintings. Here she shares a watercolor tutorial of her the process in six simple steps.
WATERCOLOR TUTORIAL: Incandescent
When Waller found out that incandescent light bulbs were no longer available, she realized that something so commonplace as a light bulb had become valuable beyond all imagining. The watercolor artist quickly emptied her lamps of these bulbs and used them to create a setup from which a series of watercolor paintings were made—ordinary light bulbs transformed into baubles, reflecting and refracting sunlight. Incandescent (watercolor on paper, 18×24) is the second painting in this series.
Step 1: I took at least 100 photos of this setup from all different angles with my iPad. I imported the images into my photo editor and manipulated them until I had several photo references that I liked. I then drew out my composition on kraft paper. Once the drawing is finished, I transfer it to my Arches 260-lb cold-pressed watercolor paper. I then start to paint in a puzzle-piece fashion, completing an entire area before I move to the next one. By doing this, I establish my values from the beginning and know that the painting is working.
Step 2: I’ve used masking fluid in this painting to preserve the white of my paper in the highlight areas. Masking fluid allows me to keep my washes fluid and even.
Step 3: I’m continuing to paint across the board, one section at a time. I have lifted the masking fluid in the completed areas with a rubber cement pick-up because I can’t wait to get it off. Those white highlights absolutely make the painting!
Step 4: I am now almost three-quarters of the way finished. Each light bulb has taken about a day to paint so at this point I’m about five days into this painting. I layer a lot, so each light bulb has 5 to 10 layers of glazes to intensify the colors.
Step 5: The hardest part about this painting was making sure all of the light bulbs lined up because you can see some light bulbs through others so it was imperative that I had them aligned so that the composition made sense. I was working with a complementary colors scheme in this painting and it was important to balance the cools and warms.
Finished painting: This watercolor painting took about 10 days for me to paint. The composition highlights how beautiful these utilitarian objects really are. I love getting lost in all the colors and shapes when working on my watercolor paintings. I’m excited to paint more in my light bulb series.
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