Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Summer Woods"

"Summer Woods" by Susan Bertke (c) 2011
When I started this painting at the first Brown Bagger session at Rosewood Art Centre, I shocked everyone by working on an Arches watercolor block instead of a canvas. Coming from a watercolor background, it seemed perfectly normal to me! I see several advantages to working on a good quality rag paper:
  • I'm not crazy about the woven texture of canvas, especially when I'm working with thin glazes. And watercolor paper comes in three different finishes (hot-press, cold-press, and rough).
  • It gives me the option of starting the painting with watercolor or acrylic thinned to the consistency of watercolor -- which gives a transparency and luminosity that I haven't achieved with opaque media.
  • I have more framing options:
    1. Under glass with a mat (I'm not sure that having the glass in direct contact with the acrylic paint would be a good idea.) in a standard frame (not necessarily a canvas-deep frame).
    2. Framed with neither glass nor mat, so it looks more like a canvas work. 
    3. Dry-mounted to a support of some sort and hung without any frame at all. (I haven't tried this, but I'm sure someone has.) Chris Leeper actually mounts his paper to a board before he starts working.
That said, I have had one problem with working this way: for some reason acrylic washes seem to soak into the blank paper more than watercolor does. I can't imagine why this is so, but that's my experience. It's not a problem if I start with watercolor washes, or if I thoroughly pre-wet the paper.  So maybe I'm simply not using enough water in my acrylic washes. I also know that some artists prime their watercolor paper with gesso, gouache, or matte medium. Any of these would cut down on the absorbency of the paper.
Anyway, this painting is acrylic on Arches 140-lb cold-press watercolor paper, 14" x 20".

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