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September 2013



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Joseph on Gesso--Eyes

I'm working on the update of my original Watercolor Tricks and Techniques book, which came out 20 years ago this year. LOTS of new materials and surfaces, but also we're wanting to include more inspirations and examples--HOW some of these techniques could be utilized instead of just swatches of color with the trick used.

This is a detail of a larger work, watercolor painted on non-absorbent gesso. It's a challenging, exciting and somewhat unpredictable technique--the color floats on the surface, so it tends to puddle and get hard edges. You can lift color back almost to white, and sometimes more than you mean to, so it's a dance--lifting a bit of color with a damp brush, adding some back in, lifting, adding...

You can scratch through the paint with a sharp blade--in this case an X-acto knife--to regain fine white lines as I did in the brows.

A GREAT deal of fun, and as I said, very exciting, but slow...


What a splendid "excerpt" - please consider posting the painting in its entirety!

I love this technique too. (http://briedodson.squarespace.com/gallery/fun-with-food/866360) Can't wait for the new edition of your book to come out. Your joy in experimenting with different combinations of art materials never fails to lift morale and inspire that wonderful sense of "play" in making art.

I have found that some brands/formulations of acrylic gesso are more absorbent than others. Also, Golden Absorbent Ground, the Golden ground for pastels, and Golden and Liquitex pumice gels are interesting as substrates for watercolor. I like very much using thinned acrylics on Golden's formulation of light molding paste, applied with a knife for a distressed appearance.
Hi Brie! I like your painting, too...it IS an interesting technique, isn't it? I've used a variation on this theme from time to time for more years than I should admit--something like 40!--but I don't do it often because of the drying time for the gesso, isn't that silly?!

I've found that to be true about the absorbency of various gessoes, too, thanks for the reminder--I should say that in the book!

I used several different grounds of that type in the original of the book, and have updated samples for the new edition, as well as trying out the new WC grounds (I think I prefer acrylics for their permanency.)

I mixed marble dust into medium for one of the demos--guess I'll have to try the pumice mediums, thanks for the tip!
I, too, would like to see the whole thing. This little portion is so dramatic and loose-gorgeous!
Thanks for the kind words! If you click on the graphic in this post, it will take you to my Flickr album--next to this is the larger version, which needs tweaking!

Edited at 2008-08-01 12:24 pm (UTC)


Another very arresting image here. Thanks!!

Pablo of Roundrock Journal
Glad you like it, Pablo!


This has so much soul. I love all the textures and the history on the surface that you've created, Miss Kate. The warm and cool interplay is also lovely.
Thank you, sweet thing! I do love working on that surface...