13. GRADUATE STUDIES IN PAINTING, PART 3 (abstracts in watercolor and the Kite Series)

LAYERED TRANSPARENT WATERCOLOR WASHES

Oil on canvas was the primary medium with which I was creating the Colored Square Series.  As the series progressed, I became interested in working with layered watercolor washes as Klee and Kurt Kranz had done...

PAUL KLEE WATERCOLORS

KURT KRANZ WATERCOLORS

I used the same type of layering of transparent washes to build up subtle color variations.  I experimented with how different pigments affect the color underneath when layered over various colors.  Some pigments are more opaque (like the yellows and the warm red) and lay on top of the color underneath, but some pigments are transparent (like the cool red and the blues) and have a tendency to blend with and stain the color underneath.  In the illustration below, you can see how the staining blue pigments (and cool red) almost obliterate the color underneath...


I created a series of paintings that were based solely on this type of layering transparent colors...
MY LAYERED TRANSPARENT WASH PAINTINGS

The layers of subtle watercolor washes were painstakingly applied so that they would be film-like in their transparency---pure light.  You have to be very careful when laying down the coats of watercolor because as you apply the wash it can loosen the layer underneath and muddy the color.  You have to have a very quick, light touch.  It takes a lot of practice to lay the washes down evenly and without disturbing the color underneath.  It was a meditative exercise.

Below you can see details of the wash overlays and how each transparent layer of color transformed the layer underneath until a rich tapestry of color was created.  If you look carefully at the detail on the right (below) of 'ALIZARIN SQUARE SUSPENDED', you can see the glow of red, green, and blue which, until your eyes get adjusted, appear as just a solid black square.  A blue transparent wash was brushed over the underlying colors and blended the colors together...


THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A MISTAKE
...only discovery and inspiration 

I was also using crumpled tracing paper to create interesting textures.  The tracing paper has oil in it and therefore does not absorb the paint.  As it stays wet over time the pigment begins to puddle and separate making unique patterns.  I also used liquid frisket as well as masking tape to mask areas off to keep the texture within specific shapes. 

Sometimes the masking tape would pull the paper up and tear it as I lifted the tape off the paper.  It created surprising results and I would incorporate the accident into the design.  This happened in 'TORN SQUARE' (below left).  The painting was originally intended to be similar to 'ALIZARIN SQUARE SUSPENDED' but I was going to emphasize the alizarin square by putting a thin white line around it.  I masked the line but when I pulled the paper up, it tore the paper.  I liked the surprising irregularity that resulted.

I also began to replace the solid middle square with organic, map-like shapes which I masked off with liquid frisket so I could put textures into those areas.  In 'ANCIENT FRAGMENT' I began to rub off the gray frisket masking area.  Unexpectedly, I liked the result of the partially removed frisket and I left it as it was without rubbing it all off...

MY ABSTRACT WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS

Below are examples of paintings where I have created textures by applying crumpled tracing paper over the wet pigment.  The colors puddle in unexpected ways.  The detail of 'TORN SQUARE' shows how the masking tape tore the paper when I lifted it off... 


KITE ('TAKO') SERIES VARIATIONS ON A SQUARE

Toward the end of my graduate studies, I created a series of layered transparent watercolor paintings that had a kite-like division of colors.  When I began the series, I had no intention or idea of doing 'kites.'   My intention was simply to divide a square diagonally because those diagonals would make the static square more dynamic.  The series was inspired by Josef Albers's Homage to a Square series of paintings that explored the interaction of color keeping the composition unobtrusively simple...however, as rich and beautiful as they were, I wanted to get away from the static repetition of Albers's nested squares...


I called this series 'TAKO' because I liked the sound of the Japanese word for kite---it was more exotic and evocative---and, at the time, I was interested in the Japanese culture in general.

DYNAMIC SQUARE WITH DIAGONALS

With the idea of a dynamic square composition in mind, I started experimenting with dividing the square into kite shapes that created dynamic diagonals within the square and so enlivened it.  When you begin introducing diagonals, all sorts of things begin to happen...

KITE ('TAKO') SERIES OF DYNAMIC SQUARES


These TAKO paintings were all done with carefully applied layers of transparent watercolor to build up the richness of color by the process I explained above.


In TAKO #10 and #11, I used masking tape to create the white space between the sides...the white is simply the natural color of the paper.  As in the 'TORN SQUARE' painting, TAKO #10 tore when I lifted up the masking tape and I liked the result.  In TAKO #11 I began rubbing the masking tape on my pants to rough up the adhesive and so the tape lifting off more easily without tearing the paper (below)...


I also incised some lines into the paper with a sharp stylus.  As a result, the pigment built up in those incised areas and created very sharp, precise lines in those compositions (below)...


This 'TAKO' series was my thesis topic and completed my graduate studies...a culmination of exploring the interaction of color, the mechanics of composition, and the potential and possibilities of oil and watercolor media.


Copyright (c) Donald Archer 2020  All rights reserved.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3. MOSTLY MUSIC (high school)

1. IN THE BEGINNING... (early childhood)

6. MY UNIVERSITY ART EXPERIENCE (PART 1) (my first instructors)