Summer Watercolor Studies
The Summer watercolor studies culminated in some beautifully patterned designs based on flower shapes and reminiscent of Japanese Kimono fabrics. Watercolor painting dates as far back as the cave paintings of the Paleolithic era, ancient Egypt and the manuscript illustrations of the Middle Ages. They gained widespread use during the Renaissance, when Dutch and Flemish artists popularized Botanical and Still life illustration. They became more available with advances in printing and developing technology to widely produce synthetic pigments formerly made out of ground natural pigments found in berries, fruits, leaves and stones. Watercolors were particularly favored by the British Artists and the British upper classes as they went on the Grand Tour of Europe accompanied by a journal that contained illustrations, and sketches of their experience. Audubon and many other Naturalists and illustrators of nature used watercolors exclusively. Without the benefit of photography, the demand for map and topographical painters was very high till the end of the 18th century. Watercolor artists accompanied geological and archaeological expeditions throughout the world.
We explored a variety of techniques and materials with the watercolors over several lessons. Unlike traditional methods of drawing the subject and then painting, we painted the background first and did the drawings on top of the colors. The first week they explored expressive portraits and had a lot of fun. This past week we studied patterns in nature.
The final projects were created using liquid watercolors, droppers, pens and brushes to get the effect. Watercolor is a challenging medium even for the most experienced artist. It requires more subtle technique, unlike some of the other projects we have explored. After a few tries and a little practice, they were able to control the color and design to create lovely pieces reminiscent of Japanese fabric designs.