THE WRINKLED WARRIORS CHALLENGE
Would you take a new, expensive BMW sports car off the lot, drive it to the nearest salvage yard and place it in a Car Crusher? Of course not, but I’m about to suggest you try something like that with expensive watercolor paper. Are you up to the challenge of Wrinkled Warriors?
From time to time, those of us who paint feel a need to work outside the box, to go where few choose to go, to break away from the established norm. After all, creativity demands invention, risk, experimentation. aThere are those who when faced with safety or adventure, choose adventure. These are the artists among us. Without a doubt, the Wrinkled Warriors approach is an adventure well worth trying.
Obviously, adventure can be risky and in many cases even ill advised. However, the risk here involves little more than time and a relatively small investment of paint and paper. In the case of a painting like Wrinkled Warriors I think it fair to note the potential far outweighs the risk.
1. Start with 140 pound, cold press paper.
2. With a sponge or large brush (flat or round), completely cover one or both sides of the paper with clean water.
3. After allowing a few minutes for the paper to absorb the moisture, lay in a flat, light value wash. Use the Principle of gradation to paint vertically from light-light value at the top of the paper to dark-light value at the bottom.
4. After allowing the paper to dry completely, re-saturate both sides with clear water (tub, shower, or garden hose). The paper is ready at the point at which it is as limp as a wet wash cloth.
5. Screw up your courage and aggressively compress this sheet of expensive paper into the tightest ball possible. Unfold, and compress it again. Squeeze as much water out of it as your strength allows. Most watercolor paper is tough, it can handle the abuse
6. Carefully unfold the paper into its natural shape, gently press the surface to partially flatten it, then clip the paper to some type of painting board. When the paper is bone dry it is ready to receive paint, wrinkles and all. The wrinkles will give the surface an appealing texture.
In the case of Wrinkled Warriors, I began by washing off what I thought was a failed painting. The gradated wash mentioned above (step 3) was what remained. Some time later I used this piece of paper for the basis of a classroom demo.
As a guide I begin with a monochrome, newspaper photo (politicians) turned upside down. The work is done directly on the paper without a preliminary pencil or ink outline. I place the first medium dark shape with two, bold strokes of a three-inch brush, after-which I set the photo aside, not to be used again.
This first shape eventually becomes the large, tree form on the right. At this point, my only intention is to create a non-objective painting of bold shapes. After a few more strokes with the large brush, I begin to see and imagine tree forms and decide to push the painting in an abstract mode rather than the original, nonobjective approach.
While thinking “marks on paper,” Wrinkled Warriors is completed with calligraphic marks in the form of texture, line, etc.
Using wrinkled paper offers a challenging, but different approach to painting with watercolor. Beyond the obvious, abusing paper in this manner creates a more absorbent, almost blotter like surface on which to work.
The Wrinkled Warrior, approach lends itself to bold, shape painting rather than a tighter, more realistic presentation. Frankly, I find the final, actual wrinkled appearance more appealing than that captured by the average camera, natural light, and the Internet.
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