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Grey Matters–Tonal Paper

One of the things I most like to do in my Art Adventures is to experiment. I read an article recommending tonal papers for watercolor, grey or tan papers, or even colored papers. I said “H-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.”

Then I bought a pad of Strathmore papers which had white, light grey, grey, dark grey, and black paper. Clearly I could now discover how the color of the paper affected the finished work.

I drew a funky bird sitting in a nest. Then I colored the back of that drawing with pencil and transferred the drawing to the white, lt. grey, and grey paper. Pencil won’t show up on my dark grey and black paper. That was my first problem to solve. Aha! I finally have found out what the white charcoal pencil is for. I had to trace a new copy of my test drawing and cover the back of it with white charcoal and transfer it to the darker papers.

Finally, I traced over the drawings with pen (1-3) and a Sakura white glaze pen (4-5). Now I could paint.1
I began the process of painting the birds using my Derwent Inktense artbars. They are like watercolors except the pigment is ink. They are brighter and I’m all about that. First I painted the blue bodies (1000-ultramarine) and the orange dots (300). First lesson–Ultramarine doesn’t show well on darker papers. I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.  Immediately I noticed that the ultramarine did not show well on the darkest papers.
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I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.

 

 

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Step 2: Painted the breast and head of each with a medium green (1300). The black paper got two coats.  Then I painted the beaks yellow—oops—-

 

3-oops
I next spilled my water over the two darkest colors. I was testing the waterproofness of the dried paint. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 

 

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Step 4: Using a dark brown (2000) I painted the inner nest and some “twiggy” lines on the outer nest.

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Step 5: I painted the outer nest with a three lighter colors: 1900-a chocolate, 1800-burnt sienna, and 1700-a mustard gold. As I added these three layers, it became harder and harder to get the paper to accept the color. Perhaps the paper had absorbed all the wet media it could. I really don’t know. I rechecked the tablet notes and saw the paper was designed for “dry” media. Such statements never stop me from trying. You never know . . .
I did note that the resulting nests were painted with different amounts of dark and light colors.

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The final details were added with Prismacolor pencils which are waxy. They are more intense that my regular pencils and are easy to use. I added shading and some highlights with some pens. Finally I was satisfied I had done all I could do.

Ideas to take forward–
1. Lighter areas\colors have more impact on darker backgrounds.
2. Shading can be deeper tones (values), greys, or complimentary colors.
3. Dark paper does not always indicate gloom and doom.
4. Unexpected benefit—-By using my favorite colors, this project helps me see the effects of the value of the background and can be a reference for the future.
5—12. These will dawn on me later when I am working on something else.

Hope you learned something or got an idea for an experiment of your own.

More later–

One Response

  1. Your funny, funky bird makes me happy. Love seeing your art.

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