November Birches

Like many artists, I want my paintings to turn out well. But that typically means that I sacrifice experimentation for tried and true techniques. Risk vs. Return. At some point, though, I start to feel stale and uninspired, and then I know that it’s time to change the line up and go for risk. Such was the case with painting these birches.Birches_November

Here, I cast off my usual careful drawing and painting style and tested a variety of watercolor techniques. To achieve background depth, I built up layers of color behind the birches and used plastic wrap and masking fluid to add texture and variety. Here’s what I learned:

  • It’s time to buy new masking fluid when there’s a glob of congealed goop in the bottle.
  • Good paper makes a big difference! This is Fabriano soft press 140lb watercolor paper. The layers of paint went on beautifully.
  • I like precise drawing – and it would have made for better results here. But a less careful drawing freed me to experiment more with painting techniques.
  • Once is not enough…but it’s a start.
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28 thoughts on “November Birches

  1. Fascinating, love the layers. I’m also quite intrigued by birch, I will make an attempt on your suggestions. I have yet to open the masking fluid.

    • Good luck, Sue! I think this would be an intriguing series- birches done in different seasons with different color and light behind them. Stir the masking fluid well if you haven’t used it!

  2. I just ordered a new bottle, I use it so rarely… and it is guaranteed to be too old to be useful when I want it… wish there was some other solution. Love your birches and that you were brave enough to good outside your comfort zone and share it with the world on the internet.

    • Thanks for your comment. I haven’t tried wax resist sticks. I suspect they change the final look of a piece because you would still see the wax layer. Have you tried them? Your thoughts?

      • I have experimented with them. Below is the attachment that you will be able to open, hopefully. I found that painting over the wax drawings on mixed media paper, the resist showed through the paint very softly with small drops of paint on top of the wax and the edges are not sharp; edges not as severe compared to ‘white out’. The wax on the paper is almost invisible until painted over with watercolor. I layered about two different colors of watercolor on top of each other and the wax resist appeared through both layers. The wax cannot be removed after applying but does leave nice subtle white lines which I like if used in appropriate areas of the artwork.

        I don’t use ‘white out” because I find it ‘user unfriendly, I make a mess and sometimes ruin the paper. But other artists can handle it very successfully..so it has a very useful purpose.

        I ordered this wax resist (it was very reasonable) when I was searching for the (Jerry H.) dagger stripper brushes through Ken Bromley art supplies.

        Hope this answers your inquiry about the resist.

        /Users/bilomathewswhidbeycommathews/Desktop/IMG_2071.jpg

  3. Lovely lovely painting, the layers, the looseness, the colours, I know exactly what you mean by trying to loosen up your normal precise style and it’s certainly worked here!

    • Thanks Valerie! I think this is a painting I will try again, modifying the process slightly and working a little larger. This is 5×7, but I think I would have more freedom with the paint at 8×10 or bigger.

  4. Gorgeous colors, and yummy birches!

    (I sometimes use masking, though usually to preserve fine lines. I’ve also used rubber cement if I am trying to protect a larger area.)

  5. Love the looseness of it all. It really moves for me. I must say your
    Piece is very reminiscent of another famous painter in my neighborhood!

    Hope all goes well in Kilington this weekend.

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