Wokingham Art Society
Jo Louca Demonstrations
Visit her at www.jolouca.com
Line & Wash
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Paint in Negative
Watercolour Landscape

"Watercolour landscape", 19 June 2018
Jo had brought samples of her work:
Once again, she had to squeeze her demo in after an AGM.

She had already sketched her country scene on a piece of Bockingford, about 12" x 16". For demos she does these sketches with rather more detail than she normally would.

No messing around. Straight in onto wetted paper with a Cobalt blue sky. More watery near the horizon. "There's not much sky, so we'll keep it simple". Still more Cobalt, wet into wet, at the top. There were then chuckles when she mopped out some blue for cloud-tops (using crunched-up tissue) and added a ultramarine and brown mix for shadows under them. So much for keeping the sky simple!
She added some grey and violet and painted in the distant hills while the sky was still wet. Everything blurred.

Jo underpainted the trees behind the buildings with Bismuth Yellow, mixed Phalo blue and quinacridone gold for the greener mid distance and added raw sienna, still wet into wet, for the dark negative outlines of the buildings.
More of these darks were dotted in for mid-distance trees and hedges. Pale tree trunks can be hinted at by scratching them into the darks with a finger nail or brush handle. Branches were easy: a splodge of paint onto a dry background carefully pulled out with the fine tip of a brush.

The routine for hedges was to use the edge of a rigger to dab in first yellow and then, bleeding in from below, dark green.

Only then did Jo start on the foreground. First a rough wash of raw sienna at the top, adding quinacridone and gamboge to make the closer foreground warmer.
Into this wet paint she splashed pthalo blue and quinaridone gold deep and also some burnt sienna, apparently almost randomly, plus a hint of red oxide into the path. Random droplets of colour were sprayed from a brush, all of which spread and merged into the still-wet washes. Indian yellow strengthened some of the middle foreground.

While this dried, Jo went back into the buildings. The area of roof was small enough for a mucky grey to be acceptable - two coats on the unlit faces. Blue shadow on the unlit walls and under the eaves. Simple marks for windows and doors.

How about a bit more transparent yellow over the hedges?
Finally, back into the (dry) foreground. Jo wetted patches of it, some with a brush some with splashes. When colours (the usual ones) were added, the dry bits stayed sharp (rocks?) and the wet bits spread.

The first couple of leaning fence-posts were done negatively (by painting plants and grasses behind them), the rest were just grey. She used her brush handle to pull foreground foliage out over the field behind it. Touches of gamboge along the edge of the road and a bit more red. Finally, more splatter, a couple of figures, shadows on the first two fence-posts and there was 9:30. Phew!

As usual I end with some of the more general comments I noted.
If you plan to take out damp paint with a fingernail, you've got to time it right. If the paint is too damp it runs into the groove and makes it darker; if too dry nothing happens.
If dry paint is not too staining, you can lift it off by dampening it and lifting it out with the tip of a moist brush. Dampening dry paint is also useful if you want the next glaze of colour to blend with it.
Beware the muddy look that you get if you mix more than about three colours.
A damp brush can often get rid of features you don't like
Distant figures need no colour-variation, nor recognisable legs!

.It's amazing what you can do in so short a time. A real stream of consciousness. Thanks again, Jo, for your usual great evening.
The end of the demo. Left for us to raffle

"Painting in the Negative" (w/c), 16 June 2015
Jo faced a challenge tonight: squeezing a demo in after an AGM.

She had pre-drawn a woodland scene on a piece of 300lb Bockingford. During the AGM she started to put her first thin glaze of yellow and a grey-green, selectively, over half the picture.

We had all heard of Golden acrylics but Golden has now brought out a range of watercolours (QoR, pronounced "core"). Jo likes them. Compared to gum arabic or a synthetic glycol, they need less of Golden's improved binder, Aquazol, so they can use more pigment and get more vibrant colour. Golden seem to have invented new names for some of these.
She started with Bismuth yellow (similar to cadmium primrose) but "thinly - it is not very transparent". Even at this stage, before starting any negative painting, she was dabbing with the side of the brush.

Jo mixed her green from Pthalo blue and Quinacridone gold deep, although Winsor and Newton's burnt sienna is a good yellow, too. Dab, dab, dab. Wet in wet.

Eventually almost the whole sheet was covered with a range of different yellows and greens. She is not keen on masking fluid but only a few areas were left white: these early glazes were thin enough to seem white against the real darks that she would build up later. At this stage white was left only against yellow, not green.
Jo's demonstration style is a stream of consciousness: "I must leave that bit clear"; "We need darker green in that corner"; "I'll use the hair drier before starting the negative painting".

Actually there were already traces of negative shapes: less paint on the tree-trunks, for example. But once the paper was dry, a medium-sized brush (No.12?) with a good point was loaded with green and Jo started on the background to the trees on the left.
With the point of the brush she painted carefully outside the edge of the trees, stopping and going off to one side where there were to be branches and twigs. Real precision.

This background was going to be glazed several times which meant that this first time needed only a medium tone, The tip of the brush dotted around but it wasn't random: care had to be taken not to paint over the lighter areas.

Jo dropped in patches of other colours for variety: warmer yellows, burnt sienna and, very carefully, green patches on the tree trunks. Where she was extending background colour she avoided hard edges by wetting a much larger area with fresh water.
Unless you are deliberately working wet-into-wet, later glazes must wait
until the paper is quite dry (check with the back of the hand).
Each time a new glaze is added it is possible to create new branches and twigs,
always by darkening the background around them.

Shadows (which define the shape of the ground) were an important diversion
from the negative painting theme but once it had started the same process continued
(repeatedly and very deliberately stengthening small areas of background)
as the finished painting gradually emerged.

Jo even left the finished painting for us, to use as a possible raffle prize, for example.
She managed to pack an interesting and informative demo into a much more than usually restricted time.
Thanks, Jo.

"Line and Wash", 15 January 2013
Jo has several styles of painting (see her website) and had brought a few samples. For us tonight it is line and wash.

Note: If you want to see how she approaches these woodland scenes, look at the write-up I did on her demo at Camberley
Jo had done a light pencil drawing of a rural scene on a 12" x 16" sheet of 300lb Bockingford (the drawing was so light I've had to exaggerate the contrast to make it visible in this photo, and I can't get rid of the spurious purple shadows).

She works flat on the table and neither stretches her paper nor use a board - "Coping with the wrinkles is less bother than stretching". And you need two pots of water, remember: one for mixing and one for washing your brushes.

For pen and wash, Jo's a "wash first" person - otherwise you're tempted just to colour in between the lines. Some people like that but you should try both to find out which you, personally, get on best with.

She brushed water over the sky and went straight in with splodges of pure cobalt blue. I say "pure" but the palette was far from clean so she had automatically avoided boring uniformity. But beware: you do have to be careful and have a bit of clean palette if you ever want colour as it comes straight from the tube. She lifted out clouds with a damp brush and used more "muck" to grey the blue closer to the horizon.
As she worked down the page, Jo kept everything very wet. She added violet to the blue for the distant hills and yellow for the trees and mid-distance grass.

Adding burnt sienna made the mix a little warmer. Pure burnt sienna overcame most other wet colour in the area of the building.

Jo's original idea was to make the road grey but Rose Madder and patches of the sky colour seemed a better idea.
That reminds me of one of the more refreshing parts of this demo, Jo's "stream of consciousness" commentary.

"Perhaps I should . . .",
"It'll dry lighter, so I'll do it strong"
"How about . . .?"
"I'll try . . ." etc.

She darkened the wet foreground with patches of burnt sienna before drying everything so that the "line" part of the demo could start. "Check dryness with the back of your hand - you don't want greasy fingermarks!"
Inks? She had fine and less fine fibre-tip waterproof ink pens and Indian ink (all black). "Other colours are available - maybe I should try sepia sometime."

She started by pouring a little water into each of the three wells of a mixing palette and adding a little indian ink to the first. This was her strongest mix. With a brush she transferred some of this to the second well (the mid-tone mix) and, in turn, some of the mid-tone to the third well (becoming the weakest mix).

She used a small brush to put the weakest mix into the background trees. Then, one at a time, small blobs of the mid-tone went into the tree-trunks from the blunt end of a brush and were dragged up to make the lower branches.
Finer detail was added with a pen. She took this right round the house, using a bit of card to keep a sharp edge, including an "atmospheric" sagging roof.

Now came the subtle touch. The ink was permanent but would run where the surface of the paper was wet. Masking any areas where she did not want the ink to run (the house, the fence posts and the distant edge of the field), she sprayed droplets of water to which she added touches of the mid-tone ink.

I thought the left hand scribbles were going to be a complete mess but as the ink spread into the water droplets (the posts had none) it all made sense.
The thicker lines were drawn with the blunt end of the brush. Jo used the side of a rigger for the shadows under the trees and then dried everything again.

She painted water on the posts and used a pen to ink down the shadowed sides. She re-wetted the field and added more dabs of ink.

The side of the rigger was used again, wet-on-dry, to add texture to the road.

The sky blue in the road was not convincing so perhaps puddles would be a good idea? First, weak-mix reflections of the posts and then, using a dip pen, thin lines to define the shaded edges.
Now we really got into the stream of consciousness:

"Perhaps I should reflect the dark bushes in the puddles, too, but I'll have to make the bushes even darker"
"I think a hint of garden might look nice in front of the house"
"And I mustn't forget the shadows of the posts, and hints of the wires between them"
"Hmm. Now I've darkened so much of it that the sky's too pale. I'll wet it and make the clouds a bit stormier with touches of the mid-tone ink mix".
"The bottom right corner needs to be darker now - shadows from trees off the right hand side will sort that out".
"Anything else?" "Do we want people?"
"Remember to keep the heads at the same level as the horizon and to let the bodies just touch".
"I've done those two too far back. Let's put a couple more in" "Oh that blob of ink is too big for legs - I'll have to turn it into a dog (it's quite a good idea to start with a blob for the body and then extend until the shape is right)"

"Time's up" says Sue Smith, with profuse thanks.
Jo: "Would you like to keep the picture?" Sue: "Great, we can raffle it at our next party!"
Thanks again, Jo. It was a great evening.

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