Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wednesday Watercolors

Nightowl has been watercolor painting every Wednesday since early September. We are using the wet-on-wet technique advocated by Waldorfers everywhere. This technique requires that a heavy weight of water color paper be submerged in water until nearly saturated. The artist then uses diluted watercolors to create art.

It's a tricky business this wet-on-wet painting. It's difficult to paint outlines - the concrete stuff of Nightowl's imagination. The painter needs to connect with the technique, working with the flow of the color from the brush. It requires patience, an open mind and a willingness to be flexible.

Truth be told - our painting hasn't gone so well. I had no idea (until recently) how to mix the colors. Some of our paintings were vibrant but most were washed out and barely visible when dry. Very frustrating. Nightowl was discouraged and I was sick of the whole business.

However, thanks to our recent workshop with Barbara Dewey and a cool "how to mix paint post" from Fairie School we are finally on our way.

I use several printed resources for painting but my favorite by far is How to Do Wet-on-wet Watercolor Painting and Teach It to Children by Rauld Russell. Unlike most other sources Russell recommends using 8 colors: Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Vermilion, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Lake, and Purple Lake. This is quite different from the usual three color recommendation but as we're colorful folk - we like it!

Although we had progressed to using more than one of the washed out colors we've opted to start over with single, better mixed colors. Nighowl is really taking to painting again. She's more relaxed and open to the process and pleased with her results.

We did cobalt with Barbara (See the above photo. Nightowls' painting is second to the bottom on the right).

We have done some work with Purple Lake.

Purple Mountains - by Nightowl and Aleisha

And today we tried Prussian Blue - Nightowl's favorite by far.

Ocean and Sky - by Nightowl

When we started painting I created a little story to go with the painting. We dropped as the painting became so unsatifying. We might go back to eventually though. It goes something like this:
At the beginning of time there was a beautiful Goddess. She sat on carved wooden thrown. At her side sat her companion the Imp - a prankster and joker.

One day she explained colors to the Imp. Red is a gift from the Red Fish of the Red Sea. One day the Red Fish gave me a shining red scale. From this comes red. Blue is a gift from the Blue Bird of the Blue Sky. One day the Blue Bird gave me a blue feather. From this comes Blue. Yellow is a gift from the Mainden who works in the Golden Field. One day she gave me the petal from a rare Daffodil. From this comes yellow. The Goddess carved a paint brush handle from the Tall Tree's limbs. The King Boar gave her a gift of bristles from his chin to make the brush. She gave the brush and the colors to the Imp: use them wisely and carefully, she told him. Take care to keep your colors clean and pure, your brush clean and soft.

One day the Goddess was creating the sky and the sun. She created a blue sky with a yelllow sun. Then she created a yellow sky with a blue sun. She thought about which combination she liked the best. All this painting made her very tired so she lay down to rest. Her companion, the Imp, smiled and laughed. He took his paint brush and mixed the sun and sky creating deep green. When the Goddess awoke she was startled but not angry. The Imp was quite pleased with trick.


big mama said...

I really love that last painting. I think it's hard to learn to surrender to "what comes." So often these children have such very concrete ideas of what it should look like! Only now is Sophine enjoying letting go and seeing what happens, and we're in our third year of painting. Yet when I look at the paintings, they are all beautiful in their own way. We also use the ones that the kids don't like so much for cards and other things, so their creations have lots of uses.


big mama said...

I really like that last painting, though all of them are so beautiful. We're painting too right now, though no forms yet. We'll start that next year.

Thanks for sharing

Soundhunter said...

Wow, those paintings are beautiful! Wet on wet painting is hard, I took a short course on water coor painting and was surprised at the work that went into prepping/stretching the paper and such first.

Thanks for linking to me, I'll link back!

Best Wishes
~ Rachel