Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't Give Up!


Thursday mornings I meet with a group of painters on location. Recently the location did nothing for me. The morning was brutally cold (yes it does get cold in California), the sky was gray and the trees were brown. The fact that I had a sore throat dulled my enthusiasm, too. I tried to be positive and stick it out. We'll it comes as no surprise my sketch bombed! I felt defeated. When I got to feeling better I took another look at the sketch. My first impression was correct...it was awful.

I knew the sketch wasn't worth saving but I didn't want to see it every time I opened my book either. Tearing pages out isn't an option for many reasons. For one it's admitting defeat, two it's an opportunity to learn something, third I'm stubborn. I dislike the idea that a piece of paper got the best of me (grin).

Don't walk away when something doesn't go your way...be a problem solver. When you have nothing to lose great things can happen. I decided to try something I hadn't done before. Using clips to hold the sketchbook (Stillman & Birn,Beta) open I used a flat soft brush and water to wash off the
image and let dry completely. In a small dish I mixed white gesso with burnt sienna watercolor. With a flat brush I painted the surface leaving white paper exposed at the edges. Now I had a nicely tinted page waiting for the perfect subject to present itself.

Recently I was sketching at Travel Town, a train museum in Griffith Park. A little locomotive named "Charlie Atkins, #1" caught my eye.  Painting on a gessoed surface is different than watercolor paper.  It took me a few minutes to figure it out but in no time I was happily painting away.


What was a defeat in my eyes is now a success. Why is that?...Because I didn’t give up, I tried something new, and I learned something.

Don't give up...Be a problem solver!



Happy Painting! 
Brenda






28 comments:

  1. This is great. What a wonderful creative way to solve a problem. Love, it !

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  2. I love it when things work out! Great work! :)

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  3. Wonderful idea - I'll be sure to keep this in mind. I've started keeping watercolour journals for a couple months now and wondered if you paint on both sides of the paper. It might seem like a silly question but I'm not sure - so in some books I haven't and others I have.

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    1. Good question, Cathy. I have two types of sketchbooks and I treat them differently. My journals are stitched bound and I use both sides of the page. In my spiral bound book I use only one side.
      Happy sketching!

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  4. Haven't tried it but Daniel Smith makes a watercolor ground.

    http://www.danielsmith.com/Item--i-284-055-001

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  5. Riko, I've used the watercolor ground before and it feels a lot like gesso. curious if they are the same :/

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  6. Really thinned down gesso with cotton fibers? Yeah, I thought so.

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  7. I took a class with Don Getz, who pioneered painting with watercolor on gesso. He had use use almost straight wc, hardly any water, and bristle brushes. It's similar to Yupo, in that the colors look brighter because they don't sink into the paper. In his class anyway, our paintings looked more like oil paintings, then you spray them with fixative when done, like you do on watercolor canvas, which as you suggested above, I think is just gessoed canvas, but people use a more watercolor effect on them.

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    1. Thanks for the info. I've sketch with Don before but wasn't aware he pioneered Watercolor with gesso.

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  8. A beautiful painting in the end and a great new technique. Thank you!

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  9. Thank you, Brenda. I will work on this not giving up...continuing, developing, expanding...

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  10. I just watched your interview with Danny. Did you make the fabric that your top os made of? It looks like something you would have painted it.

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    1. No I didn't paint it...I don't usually get paint on my clothes unless it's an accident ;)

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  11. I just heard one of your comments. I started keeping illustrated journals after watching a short film by Cehap Joe when he was just getting started. he offered a set of 5 short videos to show what he did and what his shop was like. That's before it and he got huge.

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    1. I have short teaching videos on YouTube. My channel is Brenda Swenson Watercolors

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  12. What a brilliant solution to the problem. I love it! You are a constant source of inspiration...thanks so much for posting your artistic journey with us. Lapping it all up with a big spoon.

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    1. ...I never tire of hearing those words! Thank you!!

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  13. Thank you for the encouragement to try new ideas.
    Is there something wrong with the post marked "Last Day!" It opens up as just words and symbols.
    Enjoy and learn from your blog!

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  14. would you mind posting the link titled last day? I don't recall a post with that title. thank you!

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  15. This is a great idea. When I make mistakes in my painting, I don't tear the pages off my sketchbook. I glue both pages together using a glue roller tape (like those white-out rollesr, only this one is with glue - so it's flat, no bulges). By gluing, I don't need to see those pages anymore, but they become 'wasted' pages. By gesso-ing, you actually don't waste anything. So, that's really cool. I'm off to buy a jar of gesso. :)

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  16. I can see you feel the same way about a bombed sketch...we don't want to see it again! Give it a try and let me know how you like it. Happy Sketching!

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  17. I think I shall be painting a few pages tonight!!. That is in my old journal. I did purchase 2 Stillman & Birn beta series sketchbooks after reading about them through you.. I love the paper and am trying to get up the nerve to use them. It will happen.....

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  18. Sharon, I know what you mean! I get nervous about starting a new book, too. It feels like I'm entering into a new friendship. To help me get going I start on the second page. I'll go back to the first page later. I also get sad to finish a book...coming to the end of a journey.

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