Sunday, April 18, 2010

Inking Big

Happy weekend everyone! A few weeks ago I saw that local Colorado watercolorist Peggy Stenmark was doing a demo of her amazing watercolor ink resist method at Meiningers Art Supply (the "mega" art store in Denver) over the weekend.  Many years ago when I took a break from working full-time to concentrate on painting,  I was lucky enough to paint almost every week with an extremely diverse, supportive, and talented group of watermedia painters at Foothills Art Center in Golden. CO.  

Peggy was one of the many amazing painters in that group and she was kind enough to share her white tempera/waterproof India ink resist technique with us at the time. If you visit her website, you'll see has won many awards and is truly a master of this unique watermedia resist application.

I remember how much I loved the organic wood cut look and the graphic black lines, which give you an instant dark value to work from. I also recall trying the technique and that it took a bit of planning, patience, and practice. Seeing Peggy demo the technique again inspired me (and my watercolor student) to give it another try.

Here, I probably overdid the detail in the iris and quite frankly my student's simpler boat is more successful.  I'll explain the technique in detail in another posting, but basically imagine that the white (so it does not stain your watercolor paper) tempera paint works like a masking fluid around all the dark lines (so you paint up to the line on both sides) and then let that dry completely. Note that Peggy suggests mixing the tempera from powder to the consistency of "pancake batter" so that it covers the paper well and is also easily brushed on. (My nearest store was out of the powder so I did try a very thick brand and it seemed to work OK in a pinch.)

The next step is to sponge brush black waterproof India ink completely over your surface and again allow the ink to seep into the paper. The tempera protects the paper when you rinse it off with water. Yes, this process could get messy, so I used my garden hose in the backyard.  This results in a beautiful rich black design or outline on your watercolor paper as you can see here. The best part is now you can paint with bold, rich colors if you want because of the black--which works wonderfully for shadows, backgrounds, or "black value" details.

I know Peggy prefers Quiller paper and paints, here though I used Arches 140lb CP and a variety of watercolor brands. Because you can't quite control what you'll get from the tempera/ink combo it's a very exciting technique that I look forward to trying again later this week. 

For more information about my classes or new Monday workshop, please email me. Have a great week all and happy spring painting!


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