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Old 04-30-2012, 01:36 PM
sashntash sashntash is offline
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

dpc - I agree with what you are saying, but it all depends on what one is trying to achieve.

One artist in some DVD that I watched said "Back runs are only bad if they are in a place where you don't want one."

Sometimes.. a back run can be a beautiful effect.... on leaves and stalks in a floral painting for instance.

So... I should amend my statement to read ...

"Essentially, if you have an area of wet paint on the paper, when you add more paint to that area, the brush (and therefore the paint mixture on the brush) needs to be wetter if you want a back run/bloom, of equal wetness if you want the 2nd paint to blend in with the first wet layer, or drier if you want the 2nd paint to stay put and not blend"

But.. we agree... it's the brush wetness that is most important.

I learned that first by reading the Arnold Lowrey article here on Wet Canvas, but then it really was driven home in a Sterling Edwards workshop that I took.

He takes a roll of bathroom tissue. Then a length of paper towel about 4 feet long... folds the paper towel strip in half lengthwise and then wraps that around the roll of bathroom tissue.

He is constantly adjusting the wetness of his brush.... both before and after putting paint in the brush.... to control the wetness of the brush to get the effect that he wants.

If you have a wet paint mixture in your palette and you run the brush through that to get paint on/in the brush, you can then tap the brush on the paper-towel-wrapped-bathroom-tissue-roll to get the degree of brush wetness that you need.

You do that by tapping the part of the brush hairs that are closest to the ferrule on the side edge of the bathroom tissue roll blotter.

That maintains the value of the paint mixture you have mixed in your palette, but at the same time allows you to control the brush wetness.

Difficult to describe, but very easy to understand when you watch his DVDs.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:39 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Char, I basically agree with you completely, too And whatever helps, by all means!

I do think that why other posters, and I, have so appreciated your brief, clear descriptions of what these food metaphors mean is because, for many of us, it's really not at all obvious when paint becomes milky, say, compared to coffee-ish or tea-ish as it's being mixed. As Bernie said: "When I spill my tea or coffee or milk or beer it all runs away at the same speed." And they'll all run down the paper the same way, too.

Thicker, thinner, waterier, runnier, more gooey, even good old wetter and drier… Descriptive rather than metaphorical terms like these examples are, for me at least, much clearer and more immediately intuitive—and get more directly to the point that it's all about relative degrees of wetness, not specific viscosity sweet spots such as some idealized, Platonic concept of "Milk".

Of course, for any the milk, tea, or me thing helps, great, go for it! Try everything

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:52 PM
sashntash sashntash is offline
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Since we each process information differently, and, therefore, it is going to be something different for each of us that produces the "light bulb" moment, it is wonderful if one is teaching to have as many different ways of explaining it as possible.

One explanation will give a couple of students that ah-ha moment and another explanation will get through to some other students.

One other thing that helped me.. and.. of course.. I knew this from science classes in school 50 years ago, but never thought to apply to painting.

If you have 2 "things" of different wetness levels, they will try to come to equilibrium... i.e. even out to the same degree of wetness.

soo.... water will always go towards the drier area to attempt to even out the wetness.

In watercolor painting, that means that if you have paper and brush... each will have a certain level of moisture.... from dry paper to very wet paper... and from an almost dry brush to a very wet brush.

As you put the 2 together... brush to paper..... whichever one is wetter is going to send it's water to the drier of the 2.

So.... if you have an area on the paper that has wet paint on it and you bring a very wet brush to it, the water will flow toward the paper (because... even though the paper is wet, the brush is wetter in this case) and will cause the pigment that is already on the paper to spread around... and the result is a back run.

If the paper is very wet and you apply paint to it with a damp, not wet, brush, the brush will absorb some of the paper's water while the paint is being applied and the 2nd layer of paint will stay where it is put or blend slightly but won't create a back run.

The concept that the water moves towards the drier of the 2 - paper or brush.... was an eye opener for me and the way that I could easily remember it.

I don't know if that makes any sense... lol

I find this to be.. obviously.. a fascinating subject..... and one that is crucial to learning how to work successfully with watercolors.

Having started with acrylics, this was one frustrating subject in the beginning of my watercolor journey. Acrylics are well behaved.. as are oil paints... they stay where you put them

But that is the joy and challenge of watercolor !!! They often do what they want..... not what we want.... always an adventure !!!
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Last edited by sashntash : 04-30-2012 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:53 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sashntash
"Essentially, if you have an area of wet paint on the paper, when you add more paint to that area, the brush (and therefore the paint mixture on the brush) needs to be wetter if you want a back run/bloom, of equal wetness if you want the 2nd paint to blend in with the first wet layer, or drier if you want the 2nd paint to stay put and not blend"



That seems just about perfect Can we quote you? It should be engraved somewhere on WetCanvas for all Eternity!

I've also really enjoyed Stirling Edwards ideas and methods whenever I've seen him giving a demo. If you ever want more of his wonderfully non-traditional, eye-opening approach, check out the many books and videos of his mentor and inspiration, Zoltan Szabo. Same ideas and tools, different touch; they go together very well!

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Old 04-30-2012, 01:58 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Quote:
As you put the 2 together... brush to paper..... whichever one is wetter is going to send it's water to the drier of the 2.

Susan, I had precisely the same revelation, and at about the same time, too. It was as if the Heavens had opened and sent me Light! I wonder if it was on the same day…

Let me amend that. For me, it was 50 years ago!

dpc
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Last edited by dpcoffin : 04-30-2012 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:12 PM
sashntash sashntash is offline
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpcoffin
That seems just about perfect Can we quote you? It should be engraved somewhere on WetCanvas for all Eternity!

I've also really enjoyed Stirling Edwards ideas and methods whenever I've seen him giving a demo. If you ever want more of his wonderfully non-traditional, eye-opening approach, check out the many books and videos of his mentor and inspiration, Zoltan Szabo. Same ideas and tools, different touch; they go together very well!

dpc

Thank you David !!! Certainly.. quote me all you want !!!

I am taking another Sterling Edwards workshop in June. Can't wait. He is a delightful human being as well as being an absolutely superb teacher.

Luckily for me.. Sterling and his wife live in Western NC and he comes to the Jerry's retail store in Raleigh twice a year - spring and fall - to do 3 and 4 day workshops. Since I live 25 miles from Raleigh, it is easy for me to take his workshops. I don't take them twice a year every year.. but have taken several in the last 2 1/2 years since I started playing with watercolors. They are always great fun and I learn something new every time.

He has shared with those of us in his classes many stories of his years learning from Szabo.

He also does workshops at Cheap Joes in Boone NC. Not as often, but maybe a one week workshop each year?? I'm not sure.... And.. he does workshops all across the U.S. and in Canada.
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Last edited by sashntash : 04-30-2012 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:14 PM
sashntash sashntash is offline
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpcoffin
Susan, I had precisely the same revelation, and at about the same time, too. It was as if the Heavens had opened and sent me Light! I wonder if it was on the same day…

Let me amend that. For me, it was 50 years ago!

dpc

lol... no... I learned the scientific principle of that in school 50 years ago...

but my revelation as to it's application to watercolor painting was about a year and a half ago
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:43 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

My *aha* lightbulb turned on when I was doing the exercises in Ewa Karpinska's book a couple years ago... Working through them with a friend, we both caught on at about the same time... We went out to lunch afterward...
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:44 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

dpc

I'd especially love to hear from the OP what exactly was the lightbulb that went off from the Edwards video; I saw the preview only, with the bit about running his finger through the paint on the palette, but what I mainly noted was that his brush strokes with both light and dark valued paint were basically the same wetness when he laid them down; the differing paint viscosities didn't much matter when brush hit paper.

I started this thread because I thought it might be helpful to those of us just starting out in the medium, and trying to deal with the ratio issue. If you were/are like me just beginning to enjoy this 'art' stuff, you can get lost within the terminology from different resources. I have several books, dvds and tons of video captured. In most if not all of them the viscosity isn't shown or described in a visual way.

I know from a past life that different folks learn via different methods. For myself its a visual experience that works best. Visualizing tea, coffee, milk just lead me to visualizing spilled beverages not a great help in trying to learn.

My 'light-bulb' moment came during this video when Edwards (working with wet into wet) described and showed three levels of paint viscosity. He laid down a swatch of 'watery' paint first, then a streak of the same paint with heavier pigment load and then the 'butter' mix on top. The result was as to be expected with the watery drying light, the in between mix a little darker and of course the buttery mix even more so.

He also did the same exact thing with wet on dry....

His running his finger through the paint was instructive in that it gave a clear visual indication of the heavy mix. He also showed that working wet to wet that you are still able to get soft edges with a thick application.

For those that haven't seen the video he ran his finger through both the watery mix and the melted butter mix (his terminology). The watery mix immediately back filled while the buttery mix stayed put- the track left by his finger stayed clear.

I think as beginners we tend to get caught up in the terminology of whichever artist we favor as sources of input. If we folow several its significant that we understand the slight nuances in their terminology.

At least I now understand Edwards' use of the term melted butter LOL.

I think I'll come up with another for my own use: tomato juice, tomato paste (out of the tube) and ketchup, and all the sauces in between

As stated earlier I originally posted this for others who had the same problem. I has been enlightening to see the responses from those who really know what they are doing and are willing to share and teach those of us not so talented.

Bernie

EDIT: for those of you that teach. I'm sure that if I were able to attend one of you sessions that this would be immediately apparent when you demonstrate to your students. Those of us trying to learn in somewhat a vacuum without personal instruction need all the visual help we can get.
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Last edited by btate : 04-30-2012 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 10:45 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

Thanks a lot, Bernie; very clear and helpful!

Quote:
Originally Posted by btate
dpc
…for those of you that teach. I'm sure that if I were able to attend one of you sessions that this would be immediately apparent when you demonstrate to your students. Those of us trying to learn in somewhat a vacuum without personal instruction need all the visual help we can get.

I spent a good year or more learning watercolor from books before ever seeing somebody doing it live. That was a stunning revelation of so many things… I'll NEVER forget that. Thank heavens for the ubiquitous videos of today!

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Old 04-30-2012, 11:53 PM
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Re: Paint to water ratios... ????? anyone?

I never found the food or thickness descriptions of much help. The idea that the wetter always flows to the drier works for any watercolor situation, wet on wet, dry on wet, etc. it is the relative wetness that matters. As Susan explained above, and I originally read in a book years ago, this really works. Having said this, the reality IMO is that learning styles are as varied as painting styles.
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