It all started when I saw the sketch book of an artist I admire. I liked the idea of something unusual to spark my summer 2015 watercolor project and ordered what she was using; a hard-cover journal of handmade paper.
It arrived and I took a good look…….the paper was beautiful and new to me…..I stared at it wondering what I had done. The paper is handmade and has deckle edges…a work of art in itself. I wondered and stared at the lovely paper off and on for a few months. I know….strange, but I was intimidated and hesitant to ruin its beauty with my artwork. Finally when time to begin my second annual Summer Watercolor Project was upon me, I needed to use this paper or buy another kind.
I took my own challenge and have completed ten sketches so far in this journal and soon discovered it was more of a challenge than I had expected. The paper is bumpy, stringy, and highly absorbent.
“Blue Evening”.…….No pencil, no ink, just watercolor.
My favorite technique for watercolor/ink sketching is to first do a very light pencil sketch then add the watercolor and carefully erase the pencil. With this paper that technique is not recommended unless you are intrigued by little strings of paper catching lots of the color and adding strange unidentifiable objects here and there in your art. Therefore I changed my technique; no pencil sketch…just go straight to watercolor. By the way, this is considered THE PROPER WAY to watercolor..if that is important to you.
About The Highly Absorbent Part
Little stringy things scattered throughout my artwork was not going to be the only challenge; don’t forget I said highly absorbent. In the world of watercolor art there are generally two basic techniques; wet on wet, (the paper is dampened before adding the watercolors) and wet on dry (the paper is left dry as you add the watercolors). Of course, there is always dry brush, but I’ll leave that for another blog. I like wet on wet but gorgeous, odd, handmade paper doesn’t!
“Seagulls”…….The seagulls were actually two of those little stringy things. Worked well. I added a little ink for emphasis.
Detail of “Seagulls”. In painting bodies of water, usually in the distance the horizon line is straight. Forget that if you are using this paper. Of course, I can always call it Impressionism, can’t I? The watercolor bleeds up, down, sideways; it is in control, not the artist.
I Could Always Quit
But I won’t. I’m already working on the next one using a free-hand ink sketch first, then wet on dry. I’ll let you see how that turns out.