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Demo by Elizabeth Baldin, 27th April 2018
"Flowers in Watercolour and Acrylic Ink"

Visit her at www.elizabethbaldin.co.uk

One of several examples brought by Liz.
Liz trained as a graphic designer. She started off spending 80% of her time there and 20% on painting. But painting became more important to her so now she gives that the 80%.

She works in all media. Each has its own characteristics but if you work in several they feed off each other - all getting better.

Tonight she would be using Rembrandt and Winsor & Newton watercolours and FW acrylic ink on stretched Arches 140lb NOT paper. For demonstrating she has the problem of working with the board upright instead of flat - risk of runs.
She explained that she was going to demonstrate two techniques tonight. For the first she started with the watercolour.

Unusually for her, she had pre-drawn the arrangement of tulips in pencil and even put blue masking fluid where the stems would be.

She made pools of watery cobalt blue, naples yellow and alizarin crimson (from the tubes) but before putting them onto the paper she wetted most of it so that the glaze would be soft and very pale.
There is a lovely shell pink in the Rembrandt range - a good basis for the tulip colours. She did the flowers "Chinese style" : a very limited number of careful strokes with a fairly big, round, well-loaded brush, each stroke starting with the tip and then gradually pressing further down, rolling and twisting it before lifting it off. Often these strokes were then softened with a big, just moist, flat brush.

Before the paint had had a chance to dry Liz went back in with a darker shade made by adding more purple and/or indigo to the pink - even cadmium red (cadmium orange would result in a nasty dirty brown).
Virtually everything was done wet-into-wet, one bloom at a time. She made much of avoiding green. You wouldn't know it, looking at the leaves, but they were done with a cadmium lemon underpainting with a drop of cobalt blue added later and some indigo for the darks underneath.

She then removed the masking fluid and moved to acrylic ink. Working very quickly, so it did not dry between glazes, she continued in the same way, with plenty of water. The acrylic overpainting was thin enough to strengthen, not cover the watercolour, added a vibrancy that would have been very difficult to achieve with plain watercolour.
About three-quarters of the way through the demo, when she had done enough "acrylic over watercolour", Liz turned the board over, to show another piece of stretched paper, complete with another prepared outline drawing of the same arrangeent of tulips.

For the "watercolour over acrylic" technique a cheaper paper is acceptable (Bockingford?). The technique is much quicker - excellent for sketching but very effective.
She started drawing outlines very rapidly in dilute Paynes Grey FW Acrylic Ink, using a sharpened wooden coffee stirrer. The uneven lines you get with such a "pen" are much more pleasing than what you get with a "proper" one. Liz worked on one bloom at a time, used a clean wet brush to make the ink bleed from the line into bloom before it had started to dry.

It took only a few minutes to complete all the outlnes, bleed them in and reinforce any lines that needed it.
Then she thoroughly dried the resulting monochrome sketch before starting to introduce the watercolours.

These were put in quite roughly with a flat brush . The dark lines defined the edges so the colouring could be very loose. A second coat of colour and a few extra touches of Paynes Grey brightened everything and brought the demonstration to an end.

It had been a most successful evening. Thank you Liz. And by the way I noted, as usual, several general comments which you might find interesting and/or useful.

Thanks again.
When stretching paper, let it stand for a while after soaking, before taping it down - and avoid cheap adhesive tape.
Look carefully at flower heads: they are sometimes contra-intuitive. Lilies, for example, are lighter in the centre where you would have expected dark
Use separate brushes for each colour - it helps keep colours clean and strong
Develop your own style by painting or drawing something every day. Liz may even have a sketchbook on her lap while watching TV
An eye patch is a good Idea if you are doing life drawing
Do not use acrylic wih your best brushes - you can never be sure you have removed every trace of it from between the bristles, so it will gradually build up and ruin them.
Watercolour on acrylic

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