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Day 21 : #30x30DirectWatercolor2019 : The Mountain

June 21, 2019

“Geologic Timescale”, 18×18″ watercolor on paper

To me, this one has potential for scaling up.

If you sit with it in your hands, it looks massive. This wall of rock.

I grew up in Alberta – though I didn’t appreciate the Rocky Mountains until I’d left. It’s an incredible feeling being up in those places, with towers of rock all around you. I regret that I didn’t get into rock climbing when I was younger. I don’t think it’s something I’ll get around to in this lifetime.

So yes – questions of scale.

This is one thing I have not defeated with watercolor. The ability to paint truly large paintings. This series is not large. They’re all 18″ paintings. For practical reasons of space and timing during this marathon.

But! I do plan to scale up some of these pieces later. The question will be if I do them in Oil or keep pushing Watercolors larger.

There are definite practical issues. Sourcing larger paper for one. You can’t just pop out and buy larger watercolor sheets. Ordering them is expensive if I have to get them outside Canada. And I expect half the time they’ll arrive damaged, considering the issues with shipping a huge flat fragile object. I suppose I’d have to look for larger rolls. But that would be an issue and a half dealing with that. Getting it off the roll un-damaged would probably require building a stand for the thing. And then dealing with the curl of the paper. And mounting a sheet on what? I’d be limited to 4×8′ plywood. I’d have to build some kind of work table. Aieee! See?

I suppose really,  I could work in panels. Do it like Japanese screens.

I also have to wonder if the watercolor would perform at larger sizes. The distance color will creep is partially up to the length of the fibers in the paper. I’m not sure that this will simply scale up.

See – these are the things that push you towards Oil (or Acrylic) when you start thinking about truly large paintings. Because I would like to see this one six feet high!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2019 9:42 AM

    I’ve been following you for few years now and I am always amazed at the laid back attitude you have towards the application of paint (some inkling of it started seeping through in my own paintings, thankfully) – but I can’t remember if you ever said what brand of paint you use in your latest series and if you use mediums. There seems to be some gouache as well, besides some wonderful granulation that leaves me wanting for more. I would really appreciate if you can tell me. Thanks

    • June 21, 2019 6:33 PM

      Hey Mishu – that’s great to hear :) You’re getting somewhere you like! Paint brands – A lot of Daniel Smith, and some M.Graham. Basically – I like pigments that re-wet immediately. So I do NOT like Winsor and Newton by and large. I don’t normally use gouache – for that reason – it re-wets poorly, but I do use Titanium White and Grey-of-Grey by Holbein. For these latest works the colors are Ivory Black, Neutral Tint, Raw Umber, some Bloodstone Genuine, some Turquoise some Indigo, some Perelyne Maroon. These are all my ‘normal’ colors – but in these works I’m using them SUPER rich. Like wasabi consistency. Or perhaps like peanut butter consistency :) The granulation is coming from Daniel Smith’s Lunar Black. It’s kind of an effect color that does just that. Black grains that float in anything you mix it with. Thanks! ~m

  2. Liz Brennan permalink
    June 21, 2019 7:53 PM

    Hi Marc
    I love this series of paintings! Have you ever painted watercolour on canvas? It would enable you to paint on a larger scale. I realise watercolour behaves differently on canvas but it might be worth exploring.

  3. Susanne Abrams permalink
    June 22, 2019 6:42 AM

    Hi Marc, Love your blog, so inspiring! Brain storm: You could work large by actually stretching watercolor paper on a wooden stretcher with extra cross pieces, it would be lighter than plywood. Also you could use a piece of plywood placed on saw horses as an outdoor table. Painting from all for sides, easily moving the stretched watercolor to face the direction of your subject matter or painting what you see in 360 as you move around the paper. Maybe you could work with a watercolor paper company so they could sponsor you and provide the paper for the project, it would make a great story for them. I liked the screen idea that you had too. Your paintings are so powerful scaling them up would be amazing!
    Thank you again for all of the information that you share online. Susanne

  4. June 22, 2019 10:45 AM

    Marc, one way of painting large is to use aluminium composite with 2-3 coats of watercolour ground. Sand back each coat once dry. Or don’t sand it back and retain the texture. The composite is available from sign writers and can be cut to size with a craft knife. It has the advantage of being lightweight. A standard cut can be as large as 4 x 2 metres. Preparing your own surface in this way can be quite cathartic.

  5. Patricia Larenas permalink
    June 22, 2019 11:05 AM

    Hello Marc, this is a beautiful and compelling series. It reminds me of contemporary Chinese ink artists. I had the pleasure of seeing such an exhibition at Stanford University last year at their Cantor Museum called ‘Ink Worlds’ – it fascinated me, especially artist Zheng Chongbin. Perhaps you are familiar with some of these artists.
    I attended a lecture for the exhibit and learned that they create their very large format work on “rice paper”, (which is not only made of rice, but other plant material too). It was fascinating to see videos of them working with the paper on the studio floor while wearing socks so they could step on the paper without damaging it! (and using large brushes). I also love the way the works are hung, not always framed.
    Much of this is described in the beautiful book created for the exhibit (‘Ink Worlds’ Stanford University Press).
    Apologies if you already knew about these artists- I found them and their methods very inspiring, as I do your work!

    • June 23, 2019 8:25 AM

      Thanks, Patricia :) I do love Asian painting. We’ve always had some Japanese art around the house growing up. And we spent a little time in China years back. Saw some wonderful things first hand. I don’t know Chongbin by name, will look into his work, and that book, thanks! ~m

  6. June 22, 2019 8:49 PM

    I agree with Liz, try a new surface. I will suggest an aluminum panel that you gesso. Lightweight and crazy fun to paint on. I buy AL at sign shops. Gesso to the surface you want (Brush, foam roller, etc.) sand or not. The watercolor behaves accordingly. Gesso Brush Marks are wonderful and can be intentional if planned.

    • June 23, 2019 8:21 AM

      I suppose I’m suspicious of watercolor on gesso, but I shouldn’t be until I try it :) :) :) Do you have a link to any of you work on that stuff?

      • June 24, 2019 7:55 PM I found 3 pieces for watercolor on gesso examples for you. I hope it is a substrate you enjoy. Framing without glass and mats is huge since I do plein Air events. I’m slowly moving in that direction as I use up my stash of framing with glass. I was a framer in another much younger life. I’m so ready to eliminate glass!

        • June 24, 2019 8:47 PM

          Interesting! The gesso texture really shows through! I like it. You could do something cool with combing the gesso first, etc. Ok, that’s pretty neat :) Thanks Peggy! (And yes – we don’t frame at home, just matt – but even that is so much work! – and I have heard some yikes stories about people who work with glass :P

  7. June 24, 2019 10:03 AM

    Marc, 1/2″ gatorboard comes in 4′ x 8′ sheets and is very lightweight for the size as compared to plywood. I once painted a 8′ wide x 3’high painting (as a commission). I used 140 lb off a roll but for your latest series, I envision 300# being more helpful for all the texture you’re seeking. I’m enjoying your posts BTW. I love texture too!

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