Venue: Berwick Artists Society
Topic: Floral Theme in Water Colour
I am borrowing from Julie’s philosophy on her website to introduce her here:
“Julie works in the area of traditional media but does a lot of experimenting in the area of Mixed Media, while she is probably best known for Watercolours. She likes to describe herself best as a Realist impressionist and doesn’t like to be governed by one style, medium or subject. Watercolours are wet into wet technique.
“Art is an addiction for me that never wanes, I hope to be able to enjoy painting and exhibiting for the rest of my life. As I travel around I realise that there wont be enough years to paint all the scenes I see in this life time. I will have to be reincarnated for a few lifetimes, I am sure of that.”
“You have to be passionate and self critical about painting when your putting yourself on show. For the public and hopefully selling to people from Australia and overseas.”
“The love and magic of creating a new artwork lives in the soul, and in my case consumes every part of me plus every minute I can spare Then when I do get an opportunity I go off on another plein air painting trip, or another workshop to learn something new. As life is an eternal learning journey and my inspiration is born out of all the beauty of this world and not the ugly as we see portrayed in so many artworks these days.”
I last saw Julie demonstrate at McClelland Guild of Artists last year. She makes water colour look fun and easier than we would think. Her wet in wet technique has the brush gliding across the paper or water colour canvas, with seemingly no effort at all.
The society has upgraded the video equipment this year, so not only can we see more, but the colours are much truer to real life now. In the case of watching Julie this is important as her florals have so much vivid colour and lovely washes in them.
Julie has a liking for strong contrast and light and darks for her florals, or even her landscapes for that matter. This means with such great tonal range she creates paintings that jump off the surface and are striking artworks that capture the attention from across a room. Her use of the wet in wet technique means that colours are allowed to run into each other and edges can be kept soft.
Using Daniel Smith paints and 300gsm water colour paper, which was pre stretched Julie was in control of her materials. If an area dried off a bit too quickly she had a little spray bottle to dampen it up again. With only about two brushes for the whole work she was able to achieve some broad washes of colour as well as a lot of mark making and harder edges as she got to the completion part of the painting.
Over the space of the demonstration Julie built up layers of lighter colours moving from cool yellows in the centres of the proteas to the very warm reds and cool greens of the leaves, with deepest purples overlaying warm pinky reds for the background washes.
“Don’t be afraid” she said, “just think about the colour”. “Practice using your darks, so many people are afraid of going too dark with water colours, but the darks balance the lights and add tonal contrast and depth – practice and get used to them’.
From thin first layers, the paint got stronger and thicker. The modelling of the flowers became visible and the painting began to pop off the surface. In areas Julie also used an old credit card or even her fingernail to scratch in lines for texture. The brushes which were a mix of natural and man made fibre held their tips and some very fine lines and dashes were added.
Dry brush marks over the top of colours also added texture to the painting. The finish was to add refined edges to the leaves and flowers and also to to add some depth to the background colour. This helped to push the focal point forward.
Julie brought along some samples of her work done on both paper and water colour canvas. Another way to present water colour paintings which is attractive to buyers these days who do not want paintings that need framing. The canvasses have specially made gesso and the work can be covered with a varnish to protect them instead of glass. For more contemporary or modern styles of painting, or even impressionist to realist paintings, this is a good option as well as needing lees materials and turnaround time to produce.
Julie is an enjoyable demonstrator and keeps the attendees involved and interested right through her process. She always leaves you knowing more than when you arrived and inspired to give something a try.