New Work 2017 “Break in the Clouds”

After seeing my “After School” painting, a good friend sent me a photo she took while traveling in Nicaragua, which she said reminded her of my narrative painting.  (see March 31 post- After School)  I thought the photo would be a perfect subject for a poured watercolor approach.  I will be teaching this technique in Telluride, CO this summer.  If you are intrigued by this method, you can register with this link- poured watercolor workshop

As with many of my paintings, the first step is a study in ink or pencil.  Lately I have been using ink.  These studies are important to determine values for the many pours, along with defining edges and movement in the painting.

1 break

After transferring the drawing to 140 pound Arches watercolor paper, I begin masking and pouring the multiple layers of color and value.  Now that Adobe Photoshop is so popular, many more people understand the process of poured watercolor.  One must think in layers from light to dark.  Details can be painting early and masked, or the area can be defined after all the masks have been removed and the layers integrate into a composition.  I do both depending on the colors needed and the type of detail I will be adding.  Street scenes have far more fussy details than the landscape and horse compositions I have been pouring, so I’ve been improvising the best ways to define details.  If the details have complimentary color in the adjacent background, it works best to paint and mask the details before pouring to keep the colors pure.

After the final pour is dry, the mask can be removed.  This is the time to clean up edges, define shapes, and resolve the composition.  Sometimes this step is like unwrapping a present; the painting revealed under all the drips, masks, layers, and pours is glowing and almost done.  Other times, removing the mask presents a conundrum; how do I pull all the elements together?  This painting presented a conundrum.  I studied this step of the painting for several days before adding the final touches.

4 break

After much study, I cleaned up the painting and started to add dabs of paint in ways that would unify the artwork.  This took a few days, some brainstorming, some problem solving, and outside eyes to discuss where things needed to go.  I was pleased with the solution.  This painting evolved organically, and the original painting I saw in my mind’s eye was not the final result you see here.  As artists, we must be flexible and listen to what the painting is telling us.

Break in the Clouds (1)

“First Pal” finished painting from Demo

“First Pal” is a portrait of my daughter’s first pony, a section B, 12 hand Welsh Pony, which I bought as a weanling for her fifth birthday.  Capriceaux and Marissa grew up together.   You can read more about them at Marissa and Capriceaux or just watch the video Pony Pals video

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Taken on Marissa’s 5th birthday

It took me awhile to finish this painting; sometimes how to resolve/finish a painting can be elusive.  When that happens, I’ve found the best strategy is to stop painting and simply think about different approaches.  Returning from the sketching trip to Texas reignited my creative flow.  I played up the negative grass shapes, adding some counterchange and juxtaposing negative grasses from the pour with positive grasses, painted with the brush.  I added atmosphere in the background with wet-into-wet painting, and finished with textural splatters.  To review the painting process for this painting, visit Demo part 1 and Demo part 2.

First Pal
“First Pal,” watercolor, 15″ X 11″  $350; copyright Cheri Isgreen, 2016

“SPRING PASSAGE” Selected for Saint Mary’s Hospital

In January, 2010, St Mary’s Hospital & Medical Center opened the Century Tower, a 12 Story, 434,000 square foot addition to the hospital at its 7th and Patterson location.  Atop the roof of the Century Tower is the Care Flight Heliport. Century Project planning ensured that expansion would be possible.  St Mary’s is taking the final step, finishing Floors 9 and 10 – Floor 9 for Neuro-Trauma Services and Floor 10 for Acute Medical Care. Each floor comprises approximately 29,000 square feet of space with 32 patient rooms on each floor. Construction of the project is underway and is scheduled for completion in July, 2016.

Artwork has always played an important part in St Mary’s healing environments. Calming, uplifting, and healing images, providing color, value, and light to physical space contribute to the healing process and to an environment in which comfort and care can best occur. St Mary’s collection of artwork is proudly displayed in the original hospital and its many additions.  In keeping with that healing art tradition, St Mary’s Century Tower, when complete, will display over 1,200 pieces of 2D and 3D art from more than 600 Colorado artists.

An open competition of Colorado artists was held through a partnership with the Western Colorado Center for the Arts and St Mary’s Hospital.  Paintings selected for inclusion in the St Mary’s healing environment were announced today.  My painting, “Spring Passage,” was one of the painting selected.  This painting was originally introduced on June 27, 2015 in the blog post, Update to Demo: MVAG and WCCC.

FullSizeRender 2To read more, visit the link below:   https://cheriisgreenfineart.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/demo-tomorrow-montrose-visual-arts-guild-hillcrest-church-12-pm-2/

 

Poured Watercolor, part 2

In this post, I will show you how I take a poured watercolor composition from conception to finish.  In yesterday’s post, I noted the steps I feel are important in developing a successful poured painting.  Today, I will illustrate these points.

Critical concerns to Ensure a Successful Painting

  • The artist needs to make studies before painting.   For each mask layer to be successful, a careful drawing must be executed with accurate shapes and   values .  Additionally, the artist needs to consider all the elements, (line, color, texture, form,  and space, as well as shape and value), to insure a balanced composition.  Though pouring is primarily a studio technique and not suitable for pleine aire painting, poured watercolor develops technical skills, habits of mind, and the awareness of compositional elements that are critical in the field when an artist must work quickly to capture the light.
  • When initiating compositional studies, develop your ideas into connected shapes with three or more values.
  • Edges matter- draw and mask shapes very carefully, so the painting will read when the mask is removed.  Buy the best brushes you can afford for masking, (you will need a variety), and take good care of them, so the mask doesn’t destroy them.  Mask brushes and water containers must be dedicated for masking only.
  • Exploit lost & found edges, negative space, and counter-change when developing compositional studies.
  • Avoid details until the end, when the mask is off.
  • When the mask is off, find areas where the edges must be softened.

Make Studies:

The photograph below shows my daughter’s pony, about 17 years ago.  It is well suited for a poured demo, as it has large shapes and strong light.

Develop strong connected shapes in three values:

I made an initial drawing in three values.  You can see how the shapes connect- the white area of grass flows into the pony’s nose, and the dark area of grass flows into the pony’s legs.  This gives the painting nice use of negative space, and the lost and found edges compel viewer involvement.  In the actual composition, the white leg flows better into the white grassy area.  Without making the value study, I would not have noticed this.  At this stage there are few details, yet the painting clearly reads as a pony in his pasture.

IMG_1906

Consider each element of art:  (line, color, texture, form, space, shape, value)

I begin designing with shape, value, and space, then I consider the other four.  The light on the pony’s back and the lighter belly areas will define a well-rounded, solid form.  I will enhance this element after the mask is off, as I soften edges that define form.

Color, line, and texture come from my painted studies.IMG_1907

Raw sienna, cobalt blue, and manganese blue all produce granulation, which will add texture to both the pony and the foreground.  This color study tells me what to expect as the colors mix during the pour.

In making a small color study, I learned that my initial primary color triad- raw sienna (for yellow), burnt sienna (for red), and cobalt blue, needed a little punch to the earth pigments.  I added rose madder, because it is earthier than permanent rose, and manganese blue for its lovely green mixing qualities and granulation.  I use a limited palette of 4 blues, 3 reds, and 3 yellows for my paintings.   For poured paintings, I limit my palette to just 3-6 pigments.

IMG_1908

In the painted study, I connected the white leg into the white grassy shape, as noted above.  In painting the grass, I used a variety of long, short, and broken lines to convey both texture and to lead the eye into the pony, as subject.  Then I added juicy drops of color into the tail to blow tail lines that echo grass lines and blend into pasture.

Edges matter:

Shapes are carefully masked.  I use my value map, (first photo), to make order out of the chaos of masking and pouring.  Once the first mask is applied, it becomes difficult to see how the painting is progressing, so the initial studies are critical to organizing the pouring process.

 

cheri3
Preparing for the first pour.  Each pigment cup is labeled and dedicated for only that pigment, which I rinse & save after each pour.   Large syringes work well for mixing, and small syringes are handy when pouring into small spots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1904
mask and first pour- raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue. Note very light underpainting of soft trees and clouds before the first mask was applied.

 

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After the final pour, removing the mask.
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After the mask was removed, beautiful passages of granulation and texture were revealed

 Avoid details and soften edges when the mask is removed:

Check back soon for how to resolve the painting once the mask has been removed.

Poured Watercolor Demo

%22Riding for Rain*%22
“Riding for Rain” poured watercolor, sold/private collection; copyright Cheri Isgreen

Why Pour?

Painting wet-into-wet is so much quicker and uses far less paint.  Why would I bother to mask and pour?

  • Because the amount of paint applied to the surface of the paper is so saturated, (even when making early light value layers), spontaneous color mixtures combine in unique ways that can’t be achieved any other way.
  • Layers can be built undisturbed by any brushwork, resulting in luminous, clean colors with neutral mixtures occurring without muddy passages.
  • Though it appears that masking would restrict the element of spontaneity, pouring allows the artist to exploit the unexpected by controlling how the pour will run.  This is particularly effective in areas with large passages of color where there is potential for  a great variety of subtle variation in color, value, and texture.
  • Pouring allows the artist to emphasize shapes and negative space, as well as to imply meaning through the use of lost and found edges.
%22Out of the Shadows%22
“Out of the Shadows” poured watercolor, sold/private collection; copyright Cheri Isgreen

 Critical concerns to Ensure a Successful Painting

  • The artist needs to make studies before painting.   For each mask layer to be successful, a careful drawing must be executed with accurate shapes and values .  Additionally, the artist needs to consider all the elements, (line, color, texture, form,  and space, as well as shape and value), to insure a balanced composition.  Though pouring is primarily a studio technique and not suitable for pleine aire painting, poured watercolor develops technical skills, habits of mind, and the awareness of compositional elements that are critical in the field when an artist must work quickly to capture the light.
  • When developing compositional studies, develop your ideas into connected shapes with three or more values.
  • Edges matter- draw and mask shapes very carefully, so the painting will read when the mask is removed.  Buy the best brushes you can afford for masking, (you will need a variety), and take good care of them, so the mask doesn’t destroy them.  Mask brushes and water containers must be dedicated for masking only.
  • Exploit lost & found edges, negative space, and counter-change when developing compositional studies.
  • Avoid details until the end, when the mask is off.
  • When the mask is off, find areas where the edges must be softened.
%22pause in the day's occupation%22 *G
“Pause in the Day’s Occupation” 21″x28″ sold/private collection; sold/private collection

To schedule a workshop for your organization or find out where the next workshop will be held, comment below.

Tomorrow: steps for completing the demo painting begun at the Brush and Palette Club demo

 

Watercolor Demo at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts

An interested audience of close to 40 artists attended a watercolor demo by Cheri Isgreen at the Western Colorado Center for the Arts Thursday afternoon. The demo focused on the technique of poured watercolor, which exploits watercolor’s natural tendency to produce unexpected, yet rich luminous color mixtures. Cheri explained that this technique emphasizes lost and found edges, negative space, counterchange, and a strong value design. With its many layers of mask and washes, poured watercolor is primarily a studio technique. A good underdrawing, balanced composition, and carefully applied media ensure successful paintings. Though not suitable for pleine aire painting, poured watercolor develops technical skills and the awareness of compositional elements that are critical in the field when an artist must work quickly to capture the light. The demo, sponsored by the Brush and Palette Club drew one of the largest audiences the club has experienced for a demo. Elise Lind, president of the club remarked the club gained 5 new members after this demo. The club is working with Cheri to provide a Poured Watercolor Workshop in the coming year. If you are interested in attending, comment below.

To learn more about the technique and see how this demo painting is developing, follow the blog- https://cheriisgreenfineart.wordpress.com         The series will begin tomorrow, taking the demo painting from initial studies to finished painting.

A large audience of artists await the beginning of the demo by Cheri Isgreen:cheri5

Poured Watercolor Workshop offered Sept 12 – 13th

In conjunction with “High Point: the horses, wildlife, and landscape of Colorado” showing at the Commonwheel Artist Coop August 21st- September 13th, 2015, I will present a Poured Watercolor workshop.   The workshop will take place September 12th & 13th, 2015 at the Manitou Art Center, 513 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, CO 80829.    Hours for the workshop are 10 am – 4 pm each day.

“Buckhorn Glow” copyright Cheri Isgreen, 2015

Knowing pigment properties and following simple pigment rules go a long way in achieving colors that glow. Pouring paints, instead of using a brush, further ensures that each layer remains undisturbed, allowing a build-up of color that provides depth to paintings. The workshop will  cover strategies for strengthening your compositions, pigment rules, and pouring techniques. Strategies include focusing on value, edges, and of course, color! Each participant will complete 1-2 watercolor pieces. Cost for the workshop is $85 for MAC and Commonwheel Artists Co-op members/ $105 for non-members.  Each participant will receive a 12-page reference workbook.  For more information and to register, please visit:  commonwheel.com/isgreen.html

final pour dry; removing mask
final pour dry; removing mask
“Frolic in the Moonlight” copyright C Isgreen 2015