Master Studies For Sketchers

This summer has been crazy so far. Here we’ve had heat waves, followed by lots of rain, forest fire smoke and in recent days, tornado warnings. When do the grasshopper and frogs start falling from the sky?

I’ve continued my pursuit of watercolor knowledge and expertise. They say you learn from your mistakes so I must be learning a lot. I did learn something important.. really important. If you cut up a bunch of 100% cotton paper into small squares and leave them out in high humidity, they go bad.

Well, I did that. When I started my 30x30DirectWatercolor thing I cut up a bunch of Fabriano Artistico into 5×5 and 4×6 squares, about 50 of them and just piled them on my drawing table. Mother Nature provided the humidity. Its been a banner year for humidity in Quebec.

Anyways, I spent a month struggling to get watercolor to cooperate on those 5×5 squares and only recently found that at least some of my problems have come from the sizing going bad on those squares. I couldn’t figure out why the paint would immediately soak into the paper, always had fuzzy edges, etc. Oh well.

Recently I’ve continued to pursue watercolors, this time by doing a master study of a sketch I saw in an online presentation. I’d love to tell you who did the original but I can’t find the video. Most times when master studies are discussed people are trying to replicate Zorn, Sargent, or some other great artist. That’s fun but I get more information by trying to copy some particular aspect of a person’s work. In this instance I was trying to replicate the splotchy, rusty nature of this chimney. This is actually my second attempt at it but I was pleased with the result.

2 thoughts on “Master Studies For Sketchers

    • I can’t, at least not well. If I put one of the small squares up against a full sheet, the square looks just a tad more gray and it seems fuzzy somehow. I wish I understood it better because I’ve got a LOT of good watercolor paper and I hope it’s not all consigned to a similar fate 🙁
      I see at least 3 possibilities here:
      1) The cut edgesl of these small pieces, exposed to high humidities, could cause the sizing to go bad.
      2) The cut edges have allowed the paper to become “wet” due to the high humidity.
      3) The sheet from which they were cut was bad.
      Our humidities have been consistently in the 80-100% range for some time (unusual for here) AND since the pandemic (3 years?) I haven’t used a lot of paper. But I’ve tried Stillman & Birn, Hahnemuhle, Canson Mixed Media, Arches and a couple others I have laying around and even a fresh sheet of Fabriano and I don’t see these results. I’m perplexed at this point.

Comments are closed.