Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lesson 38 Gesso-ed surface

For my own paintings I routinely seal watercolor paper with gesso before beginning to paint. The paint then makes wonderful textures and can be easily lifted back to almost pure white. For this lesson the challenge was to paint a crashing wave and seagull on gesso-ed paper. A wave provides lots of opportunities to lift out spray and foam patterns. I also wanted to demonstrate with the seagull how a more detailed, controlled shaped can be lifted out. We first coated paper with two coats of thinned gesso. Next we put on mid value to dark blues and greens around a white wave shape. The trick to refining this basic design is to use a light touch and lots of water. Glazing can be done by going over an area once; brushing over a damp area will lift off paint. Paint can be lifted by spraying or drawing with water and applying paper towels and pressure. This surface takes a bit of getting used to but can be great fun. Here are some of our results.

Betty laid in a rich blue for the background and created soft edges on her spray pattern. She also lifted out the lighter areas on the rocks.

Elaine was able to glaze over the water multiple times which resulted in a wonderful gradation of colors. She found these same hues in the shadowed areas of the gull.

Nancy lifted out fine details on the gull and she found beautiful reflections under the rock.

Bev applied the gesso thickly with a palette knife and the resulting ridges create another layer of texture which suggest wave crests. Her bird has just been lifted out and will be refined to serve as an accent.

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