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Scratchboard 101

Speaking of taking light out of dark, I’ll continue this summer’s lessons with scratchboard. Using sharp tools we scrape off the top layer of black ink, revealing the white clay layer underneath.

In addition to straight and curved scrapers there are stiff wire brushes, forks with multiple prongs, sandpaper, and steel wool.

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The 1st activity is to create a sampler to test how the different tools work.

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I always start a piece with a drawing on tracing paper and then apply graphite dust to the back. When this is transferred to the matt black scratchboard it shows up as an easy to see silver line.

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Working on a piece of 6″x 6″ Ampersand scratchboard I complete this talkative pig.

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Gouache over Black Gesso 101

I love ‘carving’ light out of dark.

It started with scratchboard, then wood cuts and linoleum, and now gouache over black gesso.

There is a different quality to the line when you are taking it away instead of adding it.

I’m certain I didn’t invent this technique, but this is the version I teach at Hollins as the technique I used to illustrate several books.

Home Sweet Home and Each Living Thing were both done this way.

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This lush style is great for lots of detail, but I’d like to simplify, so I’m working on a less realistic, more graphic look.

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I start with a simple line drawing and rub graphite on the back to transfer it to a paper prepared with black gesso.

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The traced line shows up as silver and is easy to see. If it lingers when I’m done painting I can erase it or paint over it with more black gesso.

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The 1st layer of paint looks pretty weak and grayed out, but keep adding layers. If you need to, spray lightly with workable fixative in between layers.

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When I saw the results of my initial drawing I added more flowers and grasses in the foreground by painting 1st with black gesso and then ‘carving’ away with the colored gouache.

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another cat, less stylized, with pimento stuffed martini olive flowers! 

Try it–it is fun and meditative and your color scheme can be as wild as you want.

B&W Gouache Resist 101

Gouache resist is kind of magic.

To make a black and white image you need to block out everything BUT the areas you want to remain black using solid white gouache.

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I begin with a pencil drawing on trace. Then transfer it to sturdy, smooth,

watercolor paper. You need something that can stand up to being wet and rubbed a little.

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close up of the thickish white gouache on paper. The lighter areas are unpainted paper.

Once the gouache is “dead” dry, use a wide foam brush to apply undiluted India Ink to the whole piece. The ink fills in every area of unpainted paper, dying it an indelible black.

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The white gouache design is still visible under all the ink

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washing the white gouache off  a different piece.

Once the paint is removed the design, originally painted in white gouache,

is revealed…

Magic!

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A few other  examples of B&W gouache resist images.

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Watercolor 101

I love teaching the Weird, Wonderful ways of Watercolor.

 

Cool vs Warm

Pthalo vs Ultramarine

Primaries,  secondaries, tertiaries, complements

and a huge variety of grays

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A brush charged with  water can lift a clean line or destroy a wash

A spray of rubbing alcohol doesn’t make a dent on a dry wash, but drip it onto wet paint and you have fantastic, blobby bullseyes.

A sprinkling of salt makes “stars” on a damp night sky.

Crumpled plastic wrap makes blocks and angles

Your smooth, even wash depends on keeping a wet ‘bead’ moving along under your brush.

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Glazing color over color makes every possible combo, yet all you really need to make a whole spectrum are

Red                                                           Yellow                                                               Blue

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Painting Perry

I love dogs.

I have cared for dogs, drawn dogs, painted my own dogs and painted other people’s beloved dogs, alive and dead.

At this point in my life I am without a dog companion, so it was with extra joy that I accepted a commission to paint Perry’s portrait.

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Perry

I like having loads of photos to work from when I do a portrait, so I spent some snowy afternoon time with Perry, trying to get shots of her shape and markings, but she was often squinting against the glare, so her dad also supplied this soulful shot of her open eyes.

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To keep the focus on Perry I minimized the background to the snowy field and treeline.

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I like to paint in the background 1st. For this snowy scene I used resist to preserve whites in the hedgerow, then added very loose greens and dark blues in diluted gouache over that.

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In the foreground shadows, which were very crisp and blue, I tossed on some salt to create the texture of snow.

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Then I painted Perry in on top. She is 13, but her face has such a joyful, open expression. She spent a lot of her time that afternoon with her snout buried in the snow, sniffing heavens knows what.

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Frog and Salamander Escort

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You are invited to attend the

OTTER CREEK AUDUBON SOCIETY

2016 SALAMANDER ESCORT 

On evenings in early spring with the first relatively warm rains, salamanders and frogs move from upland wooded areas to breeding pools to mate and lay eggs. Often these migrations take the amphibians across roads.  At a site in Salisbury, Otter Creek Audubon and the Salisbury Conservation Commission help these amphibians safely reach their destination, collect data on numbers and species, and raise public awareness of these migrations.

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a young escort with a Yellow Spotted Salamander

Important Guidelines for Data Gathering:

 Learn how to identify all the amphibians (we will help you on site).

 Make sure of your identification. If in doubt, ask someone with a clipboard. Do not guess.

 Keep track of how many of each species you move and if they are alive or dead.

 Be gentle with the amphibians. Handle as little as possible, preferably with moist hands.

 Release all amphibians off dirt portion of road onto shoulder in direction they were headed.

 Report your numbers to a data recorder with a clipboard before you start losing track.

 Check under and around your car for amphibians when you leave.

 Please approach the site and leave following the directions above to keep from adding to traffic over the crossing site.

 Park outside the crossing area in the designated location.

 Keep your eyes open for other crossing areas on your drive home and let us know if you find any.

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We did not escort any Eastern Newts, like this one, but I hope to see them later this spring.

 

 

Fishing through the ice

Once the lake “ices in,”a whole new world emerges.

Acres of new real estate, previously accessible only by boat, become available for exploration on foot.

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Fisherman, cell phone photo

Fishing is the winter sport of choice. Whole towns spring up, populated by fun loving, hard drinking fisher-people.

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Fishing village, gouache on brown paper

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Give up the booty, gouache on brown paper

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Four fishing shanties, gouache on brown paper

Up on top there is the bait, and the fish who take it.

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bait fish, cell phone photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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land locked salmon, gouache on brown paper

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Pike and lake salmon carcasses, fillets removed, cell phone photo

But I became fascinated with what was going on UNDER all that ice.

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What’s down below,  gouache on paper

My personal goal for this winter is to walk across my lake and to drink an Irish Coffee in a pub on the other side If this happens I’ll let you know!