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Every year, spring brings on a form of insanity in me. I become a compulsive gardener. Although my rising time the rest of the year is 9:00 am or later, in the spring I get up with the sun, and can't wait to get out the door and dig in the dirt.
I prefer to paint the things that are close to my heart, and I try to have my camera ready whenever I am outside. You never know when a painting will suggest itself. As nice as photographs are, they tend to do a better job of telling how a scene LOOKS, as opposed to how it FEELS. So my challenge in painting a scene is always to express as much about how it feels as how it looks. Given that I love to experiment, and that I am never 100% satisfied with any one painting, I often find myself painting a series of different approaches to the same subject.
Using the Pouring Technique
For the first painting, "Spring Geraniums I", I decided to use poured color. After the initial drawing, I used liquid latex to mask the areas I wanted to remain white. I then mixed containers of three primary colors, by combining tube watercolor with water and mixing until it is about the thickness of milk. I then wet the paper with a sprayer, and pour small amounts of the paint on. The colors I chose were quinacridone red, cobalt blue, and gamboge. The trick is to let the colors flow and mix unevenly.
After the first layer of paint dries, I then mask the lighter areas with latex. When the mask dries, I wet the paper and pour some more of my three colors. I repeat the masking and pouring process, until I have most of the paper masked, and am just pouring my darkest darks.
When the paper is bone dry, I remove the latex mask, and apply final details with a brush.
After painting version I, I began to wonder what it would look like if I did a version of the scene using a vertical orientation, with a narrowed view. I changed the placements of some things, notably the decorative detail on the pots. For "Spring Geraniums II",I chose to use the same pouring technique, and the same three colors as before. No matter how hard one tries, no two paintings come out the same, and in this case, the same colors provided more contrast in the picture. This painting is called "Spring Geraniums II"
For my third version of the scene, I wanted to paint with brushes. I used the same three colors as before, with the additions of raw sienna, sap green, cobalt turquoise, and french ultramarine blue for the darkest darks. I decided to add a nozzle to the hose to make it more interesting. The result was "Spring Geraniums III". I am not sure if I am done painting this series, or which painting I like best. I will have to let them sit for a while and come back and look at them.
Marsha Reeves is a watercolor painter living in Austin, Texas