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Using the Paper's Texture and Dragging Dry Pigment: At the Point of JR Monks' Brush

by J.R. Monks on 3/15/2017 10:04:24 AM

This post is by guest author, J.R. Monks. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission.   We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community.  If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 48,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc. 




            Simply Summer by JR Monks

Recently while painting at the entrance of Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado a curious art savvy visitor stopped and asked why I was using two watercolor palettes. Not fully knowing the knowledge base of this onlooker, and in the interest of time I told him they contained different paint. The now fully engaged visitor found some satisfaction in my cursory reply, but in true inquisitive fashion asked a follow-up question, " what kind of paint is it?".


What follows is a snapshot version of our great conversation. Watercolor is pigment suspended in a binder typically gum arabic and sometimes with a little honey added. When I paint in watercolor I have several hard plastic palettes I use. My colors, around 12-14 different colors, are arranged in wells around the edge of the palette with large flat mixing areas between the wells. Generally, I bring one palette outdoors and it sits on a flat bench affair I constructed to attach to my tripod. Occasionally I don't bring a second palette along and this was the case for my conversation with the curious onlooker.


Gouache is pigment suspended in water and gum arabic binder the same as watercolor; however, the pigment also includes a white, chalk pigment, and it is this chalk that separates watercolor from gouache. My second outdoor palette contains gouache pigments. My curious new friend was thrilled with the technical aspect of our conversation because as it turns out he was an engineer. Not knowing his capacity for art talk I pushed a little more and began to discuss why I sometimes use both.


Watercolor is transparent and the white of the paper combined with thin washes of watercolor paint is the most vibrant and living paint available to an artist (my opinion). A man by the name of Stephen Quiller turned me on to the unique differences of pure watercolor set against the more opaque gouache. When I look at the landscape some parts have the look of transparency and necessitate the use of watercolor, and some are more solid and dense and would be better stated in gouache. I rarely use just gouache in a painting because I prefer to set transparent watercolor against gouache. Here in Colorado I often see the sky in transparent watercolor and the ground plane in gouache. The painting, "Simply Summer" that I attached to this post highlights the transparent sky against the visual weight of the gouache used in the mountains and tree covered hills.


I also really enjoy using the textural quality of watercolor paper when finishing a watermedia piece where I have combined watercolor and gouache. If you look carefully in the middle portion of my painting Simply Summer you see where I dry brushed gouache to add even more textural effect. I feel color is a powerful tool for a painter, but color alone can become cliche and elements such as texture provide a means to speak a more powerful truth about the landscape. The viewer needs plenty to look at if he/she is to return time and time again to a painting and combining watermedia is an excellent manner in which to captivate the viewer.


Now my curious onlooker was satisfied, he asked for a business card, inquired about local galleries and continued his hike. I took out another sheet of paper and prepared to run the race, and try to capture the magic of the landscape in both transparent and opaque watercolor. I encourage you to try painting, the journey is well worth it!


Thank you for coming along for the ride.


JR Monks

We create to make better understandings of the world around us, and ultimately make our world matter.



You can view J.R.'s original post here.




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Related Posts:

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Topics: advice for artists | art education | creativity | FineArtViews | Guest Posts | inspiration | painting | plein air painting | watercolor 

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Loading comments...

Debra LePage
Any occasion when we can engage with others is time well spent-rewarding for all concerned. Nice article.

John P. Weiss
Wonderful painting and I enjoyed the story behind it!

Jo Castillo
Interesting and informative. I enjoyed this, I like visiting with folks when I paint.

Janice Taylor
Tis is the clearest and easiest explanation of water colour and gouache differences and how to use them in the same painting I have seen, thank you. The painting is really beautiful too.

Mark Brockman
Though my primary medium is pastel and I have started experimenting with casien I have over my career worked with watercolor and gouach off and on and have come back to it again. There is nothing better, no other medium can match, that perfect watercolor wash that seems to say so much with so little. Watercolors are also far more Versatel then most give it credit for. It scares some peopl, 'Oh it's so hard to work in!', true in can be difficult but worth the effort. I tend to torture the paint, the paper, and oh my poor brushes.

Good article. Thanks.

Informative and inspiring article. I love to play with both mediums together in a painting, but I still here my art teacher from 15 years ago ( a watercolor purist) say that once you add anything to it, it is not a watercolor and it is not eligible for a show. UGH.......I feel that information kept me painting in a box all these years, and I never grew as an artist. Some mixed media I have explored ( and thoroughly love) I have kept hidden away because they are not "pure". Lately I have been wanting to explore again, and this article gave the courage to try again. Thank you so much!!!! Today when I get my brushes out I will paint from my heart, not my mind. Kindest regards to you!!!!

Sylvia Larkin
Very interesting!I had no idea! Great work! Thanks for sharing!

Write another comment . . .

Very interesting. I would like to try this method. Your painting has a lot of depth. I like it.

Can't praise your enough for not only the quality of your art but the timely arrival of your skill with words. I have quoted you (with credit) in a reply to a comment on my blog where, earlier, before reading your post, I'd been too touched by the reader's comment to give a more measured response. The writer had done just what you praised, had given me 'plenty to look at' that would require multiple returns to fully appreciate. Which I was then able to do, with your input. What a great observation you made--so applicable to numerous situations! Thank you again and again....

JR Monks
Thank you all for the kind comments, I love watermedia and hope to share this passion with as many like minded people as possible!

Molly Larson Cook
A lovely painting...

...and "watermedia" is a term I like a lot...


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