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Jo Louca "Woodland in Watercolour"
23 March 2012

Visit Jo at www.jolouca.com - Back to History Page

At the last minute, our original demonstrator was unable to come and so Jo kindly brought her presentation forward a year.

She had come well prepared with an overhead camera and projector, allowing her to work absolutely flat on the table. She had several examples of similar works for sale (at least one of which went during the coffee break) and an encouragingly messy watercolour box palette.

There was a single 12" x 16" (?) sheet of 300lb Bockingford paper on the table: no board and no masking tape (Jo doesn't like the loss of size that happens if you soak paper to stretch it).

She had lightly pre-drawn some loose outlines of trees in pencil and masked out some small areas with fluid, just to remind her what was where.
In the studio, where she is working under less pressure, Jo would not normally use masking fluid nor make the pencil marks as heavy.

She then went straight onto dry paper with very wet lemon yellow (not quite randomly, because she was avoiding areas that she wanted to remain white).

This very loose wet painting was then extended over almost the whole picture with a strong green made of phalo blue and burnt sienna and a warmer, cadmium, yellow in the foreground.
Then, horror of horrors, a brown version of the green was dotted into the still slightly moist wash, above right. At one point she even moistened it a little more with a fine spray.

"Cauliflowers" are anathema to most watercolourists but as you see here, left, they can make quite convincing foliage in the right context.

You get quite different results if you paint on wet paper than on dry and so when she used the hair drier she was careful to protect areas that were not to have distinct edges.
Starting on the left, the trunks were created primarily by painting the darker negative background (using the same basic green mix and a fine brush). To keep the sunlit centre, the mix was made slightly paler and more yellow towards the middle of the picture and then darker again to the right.

Higher up the trees, where the background is lighter, the tree itself was painted, using a very pale yellow version of the green.

Monotony is avoided by lightly touching yellower or browner dots, or even water, into the damp paint. When she was doing this Jo had two brushes in her hand, one yellow and one brown/green, so that she could immediately modify the dots themselves.

For some of the texture, foreground particularly, she spattered paint by tapping the edge of the brush against a bit of wood. "Be careful to protect areas where you don't want the spattered effect".
Towards the end she decided that the tree trunks looked too flat and the grassy bank too regular. She wet the trunks carefully and added first an edge of shadow and then some more tiny spots, all of which merged interestingly to provide form. For the bank she put more cadmium yellow in, lower on the right, and extended the trunk down to give the impression that the original bank is behind it.

This is how the demo ended. We had enjoyed an eye-opening evening, and I heard comments to the effect: "My previous attempts along these lines have failed but I think its going to be worth another try". Thank you Jo.

Jo decides at leisure if a piece of work is saleable, worth a little more work or beyond repair. If she decides to do more to this she will try to remember to email me a photo of the final version.
Sam Dauncey


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