Friday, December 12, 2008

Snowy Farm - Dec VSD

Lehigh Valley Farm
7" x 5" watercolor on Aquabord
Stacy L. Rowan

This month I decided to try something different and paint my Virtual Sketch Date entry on Ampersand Aquabord. I've been wanting to work with this watercolor support for some time, because I am interested in framing watercolors without glass.

I wasn't sure if pencil marks would erase off the board, so I did my preliminary sketch with watercolor pencil. I liked how this worked out and might try it for my next painting on regular watercolor paper.

However, with my first brushstroke of paint, I questioned whether experimenting when I had a deadline was a good idea. The Aquabord doesn't absorb water exactly like paper does, so with a fully loaded round I was leaving puddles on the board. Not the effect I was going for.

I switched to flat brushes which hold less water and found they worked better. Most of the rest of the painting was done using my flats. I did go back to the rounds when I painted the trees. I wanted the paint there to be juicy so my little dabs with the brush would run together and produce interesting shapes.

One of the things I really loved about the Aquabord is how simple it is to make changes. The paint lifts off very easy when you re-wet it. I was able to lift out the windows on the second story of the gray barn and get all the way back to white. (I went back in later with some light gray mix to tone down the white.)

One downside to this is that sometimes I got lifting when I didn't want it. I had to use the flat brush at a shallow angle to avoid lifting paint with it's edge. The same was true for the points of the round brushes. But I thought it was easier to correct the areas where I accidentally lifted paint than it would have been to correct on paper.

My only minor disappointment with the Aquabord I encountered when I painted the back tree line. If I was painting on paper, I would add the trees while the sky was still damp and let the paint flow naturally into that area. This gives a nice diffused and somewhat varied edge. It's one of those cases of letting the paint work for you. With the Aquabord I couldn't get this technique to work, so I had to go in and soften the edge with a damp brush. Like I said, a minor disappointment, and I can't say it wasn't just a result of my inexperience with the surface.

I haven't prepared the painting for framing yet, so I can't comment on that part of the process. I will try to remember to report back and let you know how simple or difficult it is.

Visit the Virtual Sketch Date blog this Sunday and use the posted links to visit all the entries.


Jennifer Rose said...

wonderful painting :D The trees have a nice texture to the leaves. I would have never noticed anything different with the trees in the background, but now that you have pointed it out the difference in techniques is noticeable.

Anonymous said...

Good job Stacy. Love Dad.

Anita said...

Nice little painting, Stacy. I love the punctuation of that red against the muted palette of the rest of the painting.

bluelilac said...

I like your painting Stacy and thanks for reminding me about the virtual sketch date. I might try this if I move fast enough.
What a lovely landscape photo.

Rose Welty said...

Really nice Stacy...has a great feel to it.

BMoon said...

Very nice.....I have an aquaboard but haven't tried it yet, it sits in a pile.

Your got really vibrant colors on this, and the entire scene is so peaceful and still.

Caroled said...

Love your painting and all the little added details... little house and fence... adds to the rural atmosphere.

Sherry said...

I was particularly interested in your comments about the Aquaboard. I experimented with this earlier in the fall, and also enjoyed how easy it is to make corrections. You're right about how absorbent the ground is though. Colors don't mingle the same way they do on, say, paper with gesso, or regular watercolor paper. I just used Krylon spray to fix the surface when I was finished, and framed it pretty much as I would any watercolor.

christine said...

Stacy, I love your use of the rich red color for the barn and house and window. It lends a cheery contrast to the wintry feel of the scene.

Kathleen said...

Stacy I think you did a great job softening the back tree line - it's a nice painting -

Mary said...

A gorgeous piece Stacy! The neutral colors against those well chosen stronger colors make a very nice statement.

Regina Calton Burchett said...

Very nice watercolor - and I appreciate your details on how you did it. Watercolor is still a big experiment for me - and not a friendly one!

Jan Pope said...

Good job. Watercolor is just not my media - except for watercolor pencils. I think that makes me a control freak or something. Kudos to you for branching out.

Andy said...

Nice painting Stacy - it feels right, if that makes sense. That heavy grey sky threatening more snow and the brightness of the snow itself. Good job!

Stacy said...

Jennifer, thanks for your comments on the trees. I've been painting more trees lately in an attempt to get them to look like.

Thanks Dad! If I remember, I'll bring it Christmas so you can see it in real life.

Anita, you read my mind! Thanks!

Thanks Blue! I saw you chose to draw a beautiful portrait instead of the VSD. I think you made a good choice. :)

Thanks Rose!

BMoon, give the aquabord a try. I'd love to hear what other people think of it.

Carol, thank you. The details are there in real life. I drive by the farm almost every day, so it didn't feel right without them.

Sherry, thanks for your tips on how to treat the finished painting. The board did handle different than paper, but I think I liked it.

Thank you Christine! I've been wondering if that cheery red needs to be toned down a touch. But I think I'll leave it as is for now.

Thank you Kathleen. It wasn't hard to soften the back tree line, but I missed the anticipation of watching the paint "crawl" across the paper.

Thanks Mary! That was exactly what I was going for. I'm glad it came across to you.

Thanks Regina! Watercolor can be unfriendly to us all at times. Don't take it personal. ;)

Thank you Jan! You do have to relinquish some control when you start working with watercolor, but the more you work with it, the more that inner control freak can creep back in. Trust me, I have one of my own! :D

Thanks Andy! That gray sky really is a sign of winter here in eastern PA. I always look forward to the blue skies coming back with warmer weather.

leslie said...

Lehigh Valley...not too far from where I remember New Jersey winters growing up!
You really wrestled with the Ampersand board it sounds, but you were victorious! Great painting.
Thank you so much for providing the reference photo, and for all the linking and linking and linking!

Judy said...

I just tried aquaboard for the first time too and decided I will not buy it again but enjoyed the experiment. I can't decide if I like my painting I did on it or not. It reall is different than paper.

laura said...

I love the way you interpreted this photo; your version has strength! And it seems bitterly cold too!

Stacy said...

You're welcome Leslie! It was more a few moments of panic than a wrestle, but I was happy in the end. :)

Judy, I know what you mean about the Aquabord. I will probably try it again. My watercolors are fairly tight, so I think it might have a place in my arsenal.

Thank you Laura! I don't like cold, gray days, but it was fun to paint one.