Watercolour Lessons

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WATERCOLOR LESSONS ON DEPTH AND LUMINOSITY

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Watercolor Painting Techniques from Artist Daily

WATERCOLOR LESSONS ON DEPTH AND LUMINOSITY

Skin–tones &Colors that Shine
ALI CAVANAUGH DISCOVERED WAYS & MEANS TO CREATE RICHLY NUANCED FIGURE PAINTINGS IN WATERCOLOR.

by Lynne Mos s P e r r i c e lli

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li Cavanaugh prefers watercolor as a medium, but her approach is more like that of an oil painter. Building up multiple layers, slowly blending the paints to the desired color and value, she achieves a remarkable depth and luminosity, especially in the skin tones. Such a labor-intensive approach and an unconventional application of watermedia requires a special surface, which Cavanaugh discovered in Ampersand’s Aquabord, a plaster panel cradled in birch plywood and covered with kaolin clay. The artist describes the surface as “pebbly,” conveying a rich texture that holds the paint well. Best of all, the wet surface allows the paint to remain workable over a long period of time.

ABOVE

Falling Through Your Redolence
2008, watercolor, 30 x 22. Courtesy Bering & James Gallery, Houston, Texas.

This content has been abridged from an original article written by Lynne Moss Perricelli. This premium has been published by Interweave Press, 201 E. Fourth St., Loveland, CO 80537-5655; (970) 669-7672. Copyright © 2008 by Interweave Press, a division of Aspire Media, all rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of the copyright owner.

WATERCOLOR LESSONS ON DEPTH AND LUMINOSITY

Perfected Through a Fall
2008, watercolor, 50 x 40. Collection the artist.

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WATERCOLOR LESSONS ON DEPTH AND LUMINOSITY

Cavanaugh begins any new work by first arranging a photo shoot. Her models are typically her daughter and nieces, and she dresses them in clothes from her own collection of vintage fabrics. “The magic for me is in dressing the figure and doing the photo shoot,” Cavanaugh says. “The creative part of my process is mostly in capturing the figure in a pose that is emotional.” She spends a great deal of time deciding

what the figure will wear. “The clothing sets the tone, but more important it allows me to bring together the two things I love the most: fabric and the figure. Painting the fabric and the patterns motivates me.” Setting up her digital camera on a tripod, she takes some 200 to 300 photos. She engages the model in conversation to find a natural, compelling pose. She then uploads the

photos to her computer, where she can view and manipulate them with Photoshop software. “I choose one photo or a couple of photos and piece them together,” the artist describes. “I eliminate some elements, change everything to black and white. I cut and paste from other photos, keeping everything on the screen.” Once she has determined the composition, she selects a panel and

I Remember How It Used To Be
2007, watercolor, 20 x 16. Private collection.

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WATERCOLOR LESSONS ON DEPTH AND LUMINOSITY

Why Not
2008, watercolor, 14 x 18. Collection the artist.

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Twice
2007, watercolor, 12 x 12. Private collection.

BELOW

makes a light graphite drawing. She then wets the surface and begins painting. The graphite dissolves when the water and pigment contact the surface. “I have no set formula,” she explains. “Every painting starts out in its own way. Sometimes I work from light to dark, sometimes I don’t.” Cavanaugh likens her process to egg tempera in that she uses multiple tiny strokes to build up the color in layers, and although she is responding to the work as it progresses, the process is slow and meticulous. She typically begins with a 1” sable flat to lay in the background areas, then uses smaller brushes, down to a .2. “I go through about four brushes per painting,” she notes. “The sandpaperlike texture of the surface wears out the...
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