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