JDayMinis, 1:48 & 1:12 Scale Minis, Laser Cut Designs too.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Miniature Transparent Watercolour Workshop 4

Today for this miniature workshop I will show you more steps I took to get to this part of the painting. I continued with adding the basic watercolours mentioned in Workshop 2,
1.Holbein Aureolin
2.Windsor Newton Rose Madder Genuine
3 Yellow Ochre
4.Windsor Newton Cobalt blue
5.Windsor Newton Burnt Sienna
6. Holbein Cobalt Violet
Using only these six colours you can create so many more colours by thin layering.  Keep layering and adding detail and alternating between all of these colours, watch that you let the layers of colour dry before adding more colour, you can use a hair dryer too but make sure you hold onto the tiny painting or it might fly away. If you are unhappy with any area simply saturate with water and blot, I like to blot as I'm adding watercolour too to avoid excessive pigment too.

Here you can see the addition of rose madder, I have continued to do a light wash of each of these colours. I liked the look of the painting at this point, sort of impressionistic and you can really stop here if you are pleased but it is fun to continue adding detail.

More rose and cobalt violet have been added, the violet is also good to add for shading in the thatching and on the walkway.

Getting darker with the burnt sienna, added more yellow, ochre and blue washes. Now I have started to use my magnifier. You don't have to use a magnifier but it is great for detail in miniatures. Optivisors work well too.

 Here you can see that more detail has been added now with stronger applications of rose and mauve.

I have added more detail with the transparent colours, to build up the colours slowly, it will add to the richness of the colours. Remember to use water in areas you may have added too much colour and you want to lighten up, this is the wonderful thing about transparent colours. Alternating burnt sienna and blue work really well for the dark areas. Really important to have paint brushes that will bounce to a beautiful point, I need new ones because today when I was painting my brushes kept turning into three hairs instead of a point, worked well for the thatching though, lol. I often twist the brush in the top of my water dish to help form a point. Artists often have been known to create a point with spit and with all of the various pigments and minerals in the paints it is not a good idea to put the brush in your mouth.

 Here are a couple more of my mini paintings reproduced from Helen Allingham's wonderful paintings. Great way to practice watercolour techniques. These photos are a little washed out compaired to my originals because I scanned them but the detail shows up well.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Miniature Transparent Watercolour Workshop 3

Above I am showing a couple more of my mini paintings, they are each about one and one half inches in width. There are so many choices when painting and that is exactly what makes you the artist, all of your choices. What you will include in your painting and what you will leave out, the colours and every other brush stroke that you use to complete the painting. Everyone is unique and different and if you choose to paint what is closest to your heart, I believe that will work out the very best for you.

What I am doing with these workshops is showing techniques. When I think of techniques, I think my youngest son who is a magician. He has studied all the greatest magicians and read every magic book he could get his hands on to perfect his card manipulations. If I were given a deck of cards and was asked to perform a magic trick, I wouldn't know where to start! This is the same with painting. Of course you can jump in and learn from your own experiences with painting but having a basic knowledge of many techniques gives you so many more choices for you to express yourself.

As for my choice of painting to reproduce, I like to be very aware of copyright issues. I love antique paintings, using my own photos, sketches and antique photos. Since I reproduce miniature books and sell them on eBay, sell to dealers and from our website, I have to be particularly mindful of copyright. I reproduce books and images published before 1927, sometimes later if I have checked to see if the the publisher has renewed his copyright. When I first started selling on eBay I had a mini quarter scale book removed because I wasn't careful enough and it was trademarked, the trademark lawyer saw it, and I was given a warning. I have since been so much more careful. I'm mentioning this because the same rules apply to miniature paintings.

Here are two vintage images that I am using for my painting example that you can also use if you like by right click to save the image and printing them both out. You might want to copies of the smaller one for tracing. I thought the painting would show, with a minimum of paints, this transparent technique very well. I've included a larger more detailed version too, to see the detail. I'm making mine one and one half inches in width. Hopefully yours will print out the same size.

Before you start, have a look at your paper to check the watermark to see if you are working on the right side of the paper, it seems to absorb the watercolours the very best on the right side. Hold it up to the light to see the watermark as shown in this photo.

Trace the outline of the small painting by using graphite paper that you can by from any art supply store or draw the areas by eye or cover the back of your small example painting with soft lead pencil. I traced with a pencil outlining each of the larger areas of colour. Check to see if the graphite is being transferred to your watercolour paper.

You now have your outline on your paper. I mask taped around the painting, good to keep any
accidental spills and the taped edges sharpens the outline around the painting.

Using a larger #1 brush I mixed water on the side of my aureolin yellow container to thin the colour. I tested the transparency on another piece of paper and kept adding more water to lighten the shade. Then I went over the areas with auerolin that would be yellow, green or a light ochre in my finished painting. Once these were dry I went over some areas again that were a darker yellow or deeper green.

You can see the practice paper on the edge in this photo. If you feel what you have applied was too dark, just give that area of your painting a wash with water on your brush and blot it, you would be surprise how much blotting and painting the paper will take. Here I have added a light wash of the yellow ochre while studying the original picture all the time to make sure I leave all the other areas white paper. I just uses very light washes, some people call these layers glazes. Sometimes the colours are too dark and I use an extra container to water down my colour or pigment. It is surprising how little paint you need.

This last photo shows the cobalt blue that has been added and my extra container. The cobalt really needs to be transparent to let the wonderful white of the paper show through for the sky and to let the yellow show through for the green areas. To darken the green areas, the yellow can be added after the blue has dried and just keep building the areas up with thin coats of transparent glazes. This is really a fun part of the painting process.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Miniature Transparent Watercolour Workshop 2

For this second watercolour workshop I want to concentrate on the transparent paints themselves. To better express what I mean by transparent watercolours, it is a colour that is painted on the paper but still lets the light of the paper show through and if you cover that painted area with another transparent colour it will let the previous colour show trough. This results in a brighter, clear painting which is perfect for miniatures because they are so small you really want more contrast in the light and dark areas but not muddy looking from a distance.

Opaque colours have more white pigment mixed in with them, sometimes called gouache paint. They do not let the white of the paper show through or the previous colour. In schools they often use opaque colours in the paint boxes. I also like to avoid really staining colours, they are less forgiving than transparent. Although I have a degree in Fine Arts and a BEd in Art and taught art in high school, I never was able to study watercolour painting but was always fascinated by paintings I had seen. Finally in 1997 I started to learn how to use watercolour paints by reading all I could. I kept a journal as you can see in the third photo. I would recommend keeping a small journal of your painting experiences. I still use it. It is a wonderful resource where I can go back and see what colours or inspiration was responsible of parts of a painting I might want to try again. I have taken many wonderful workshops too and have recorded the palettes of various artists, everyone seems to find their favorite style and colours, I hope you will too.


In the journal I listed the colours I used in most of my miniature paintings at the time I was painting some of the Helen Allingham reproductions I showed in the previous workshop. I really believe that by using just a few wonderful, permanent, nonstaining paints you can create a lovely miniature.
1.Holbein Aureolin
2.Windsor Newton Rose Madder Genuine (I used to use genuine rose madder but it fades)
3 Yellow Ochre, a bit opaque but important for the stones and cottage
4.Windsor Newton Cobalt blue
5.Windsor Newton Burnt Sienna
6. Holbein Cobalt Violet

In my notes for the Helen Allingham paintings, I wrote I used Aureolin to create the bright greens
Rose Madder for the roof etc., Yellow Ochre, walk and cottage, Burnt Sienna for walk, chimney & roof
Cobalt Blue for the roof, windows, sky, over yellow for green areas
Cobalt Violet for roof, Aureolin again over blue for green
Notes like this can be so handy to refer to over the years.

For more variety in colours I recommend, Windsor Newton Permanent Rose, Daniel Steel Quinacridone Coral and Gold, (love all the quinacridone colours by DS), Windsor Newton, Cobalt Turquoise (a colour you just can't make well by blending colours), Holbein Ultramarine Blue, Windsor Newton Transparent Yellow (almost lemony) and Rowney Veridian green. There are so many more colours I love but you can paint so much with a limited palette and it really simplifies the blending.

You can see a listing of many of the paints I use in the plastic container. I have named each of them for my own reference and the stars represents their colour fast properties from Hilary Page's book I mentioned last week.

I also show a photo of two essential colour wheels, great to study the basics of colour blending. Michael Wilcox book, Blue and Yellow don't make green or how to mix the colour you really want. This is an excellent book. Since some primary colours or red, yellow and blue are either on the warm (more yellowy or cooler side (more to blue) when you layer colours or mix them it is important to understand what you are blending to get the results you want. In the colours I have mentioned, Rose Madder genuine is a cooler shade of red and permanent rose is a warm shade or red.

You can see I took the masking tape off the Helicopter, just need to mat and frame it now. I don't usually paint on an easel for watercolour but it goes keep cat prints off the paintings when I'm not working on them.

When I first started doing mini paintings I thought if I mask taped off a number of area then I could work with the same colours for each painting and let them dry while I'm working on another as shown in the second photo. I don't recommend masking tape for the minis because if you leave them for too long the tape leaves behind a residue. It comes off fine if you finish it within a month or two. You can kind of see the yellowy residue on the edges in the second photo. Now I just draw lightly around the outside edge and try to not go outside the lines. I am a strong believer in painting outside the lines however!! but maybe not in this case, lol.

The third photo shows a couple more of the brushes I like to use that I didn't mention last week, Cornelissen Miniature Pure Kolinsky and Isabey 0 Kolinsky for very fine details.

Next workshop I will get started with a mini painting, thank you so much for looking and sharing your comments. I will try to answer any questions in my workshops too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Miniature Transparent Watercolour Workshop 1

While looking at the watercolour of a helicopter I've been painting as a belated Birthday gift for one of my sons, I was thinking of how much I enjoy miniature watercolour. I thought maybe some of you might like to see the techniques I use to create my miniature watercolours.

Knowing me, I will not be consistent about this and mix these blogs in with other blogs. You can click the label for Mini Watercolour down on the left side of my blog and it will bring them up as I do the watercolour workshop. I thought some of you might like to give mini water colour painting a try and if you already paint you might hear a couple of different techniques you haven't tried.

The first photo shows where I enjoy painting in our studio, under the window, lots of natural light and I am able to leave everything there. The large coffee cups hold two large pots of clean water each time I work. I also use a full spectrum lamp. I'm also showing how I keep my watercolours in small containers, works really well if you like to paint as I do in transparent layers, drying between each layer so I don't actually mix the paints on a palette, they blend by layers on the watercolour paper.

As my first introduction to this technique I will describe my supplies. My favorite brushes are Windsor Newton series 7, fine sable. I think it is a fallacy if you hear people say they must have used a brush with only one hair, lol. If you use a larger good brush, 0 or 1, that springs to a beautiful fine point or one bristle on the end, it will hold lots of colour and paint extremely fine as well. Smooth water colour paper is better for mini painting because it doesn't have a large texture. Many types are available, good quality is important. I like BFK Rives paper from France. Just because it is miniature you must not feel you can use less expensive supplies.

I prefer using transparent watercolours. My favorite paints are shown in the bottom photo. You really have to study all the watercolours to understand their properties as to how much they fade and how they interact with other colours. You don't want a mini painting to disappear after a few years from fading. I can simplify this for you buy telling you my favorite. You don't need to use as many colours as I do. My favorite watercolour books are shown above and they include Hilary Page's Guide to Watercolor Painting. Hilary has tested hundred's of paints and this book wonderfully describes all of her experiments with fading, mixing, how the paints handle etc. Making Watercolor Sign by Jeanne Dobie, AWS and Transparent Watercolor Wheel by Jim Koswanec, these are both excellent books to read to understand how transparent watercolours work.

I have also shown a few of my miniature reproduction paintings I painted while studying Helen Allingham and other artist's wonderful paintings from the turn of the 18th century.
I will show you close up photos of these later.

More to come, thanks for looking,

Mini Hugs, Jean


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