I love to create with the DANIEL SMITH Primatek range of paints as they are such unique pigments with wonderfully dramatic granulation properties. Combined with a wet-in-wet technique, and a little tilting, they can create a textural tonal painting in no time.
If you’d like to display your watercolors without the need for framing under glass, then DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground is the solution! I have painted many large watercolor canvases using this ground, which without frame and glass, are lightweight and contemporary.
* Sodalite Genuine, DANIEL SMITH PrimaTek Watercolor.
* DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground, Titanium White.
* Cotton duck canvas, double width edge.
* Foam roller.
* Water soluble graphite pencil.
* Soft taklon brushes (round size 8 and 10).
* Small stiff flat-edged brush size 4.
* UV spray fixative.
* Matt spray varnish.
Preparing the canvas.
* Start by wiping any dust from the canvas with a damp lint free cloth.
* Pour the ground into a flat bottomed plastic dish (the amount will depend on the size of your canvas). Add water to thin the paint. Mix to the consistency of pouring cream.
* Dampen your foam roller, load with ground from your container.
* Vertically roll even coats of ground over the canvas, ensuring you go all the way to the edges. Let dry thoroughly.
* Repeat the above, but now in a horizontal direction. Let cure for 24 hrs.
You can see the difference between the Daniel Smith Watercolor Ground covered canvas (left) , and the untreated cotton canvas (right).
Drawing your image.
As the watercolor ground surface can be delicate, strong rubbing or scrubbing is not encouraged. Therefore I suggest you complete your initial drawing on paper, then transfer to the canvas once you’re satisfied. I like to use water-soluble graphite pencils, as they disappear under the watercolor paint. They come in various strengths, I like the Light & Medium Wash.
Setting up your work space.
I like to eliminate as many “dangers” to the painting in progress as possible! A simple spill or drip from a staining color can send you right back to the beginning! So I like to have a completely clear area, with only the necessary tools to hand.
* As I am right handed, my paint palette, water and brush rests are all placed to the right. This way I am not reaching over my painting with a loaded or dripping brush.
* Using a brush rest prevents the brushes from rolling or leaving drips on my work surface.
* My water container is placed on a pad of highly absorbent paper towel, to clean and adjust paint/water load of brushes.
I use a wet-in-wet technique for my whales and marine creature paintings. It allows the paint the freedom to move freely and settle in the valleys of the surface. By titling I can create areas of high tonal contrast, which creates interest and drama.
I fill the area I want to paint with a generous amount of clean water with my largest brush.
When working with paper I would take this water to the very edges of my drawing. However the ground can sometimes “bleed” at the edges with very wet paint, so I leave a small gap, just in case. I can always fill this gap by drawing the paint out towards it later.
Starting at the head, I paint the upper jaw, the body and lower tail fluke of the whale with water.
Before you paint.
I work with both paint straight from the tube, and dried pans/palettes. When working from dried pans, re-wet your paint at least a minute before use. This will allow all the pigment particles to fully reactivate. Stir to evenly distribute the pigment. It is also important with certain pigments to keep stirring when using, as some particles are heavier than others and will sink to the bottom of your palette. Sodalite is one of these. You can see the difference below between the settled and stirred paint.
Applying the paint.
* With a loaded brush, lightly follow the edge of the water in a light, long stroke.
* The paint will start to spread immediately. Fill the area with long horizontal strokes along the length of the whale, keeping the lower belly area free of paint.
* You can tilt the canvas to encourage the paint to run and condense in certain areas. As the belly area was left free of paint, I tilted the canvas to allow a light wash of paint to only tint the area, with the majority running back towards the top and settling there.
Once this area has dried completely you can move onto the fins and upper tail fluke. If it is still the slightest bit wet, your new paint will run into this previously painted area.
Next fill the throat area with water then drop in a very diluted wash, letting the plaint settle down towards the bottom. Before it dries, dot in a stronger mix of paint as chin barnacles.
Whilst this area is drying you can mark in the eye.
Take a small stiff flat brush and dampen slightly. Lightly lift out the eye area till it is almost white again. Let this area dry thoroughly. Once dry, load the tip of a round brush with concentrated paint and mark in the dark eyelid and iris, leaving a small dot of white in the middle.
When the throat area is dry, load the tip of a round brush with paint and lightly mark in throat grooves.
Finishing off your painting.
To protect your painting from, dust, moisture and UV rays it needs to be sealed with fixative and varnish. I personally prefer a matte or satin varnish to retain the look of a watercolor piece, but a gloss varnish can be used also.
* Prop your piece vertically to lessen the chance of fixative and varnish drips falling onto it.
* Spray several light layers of UV fixative over your piece in a dust free, well ventilated area.
* Spray several light layers of varnish in broad sweeps. Always begin your spray sweep outside the edges of your work.
* Spray the side edges of your work to totally seal it.
* Attach D rings and hanging cord securely on the back
Your watercolor on canvas painting is now ready to hang!
Why I use DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground and the Primatek range of paints
Being able to paint large scale watercolor pieces on canvas has given me much greater freedom of expression in my work. Techniques not possible when painting on paper are now no problem thanks to the DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground. An added bonus is doing away with the need for traditional framing. Sodalite Genuine is a wonderfully versatile, non-staining, granulating color, especially suited for painting whales and other fascinating creatures of the sea. It is my “Go To” color for drama and vibrancy, and is a firm favorite. Being able to paint with a single tube of color, and produce a piece full of texture and tone is just one of the reasons why I love the DANIEL SMITH Primatek range. Knowing that I am creating art made from the jewels of the earth casts a magical aura over my entire painting process!
Cindy is an award winning artist and illustrator living by the beach in sunny Perth, Australia. The inspiration for Cindy’s work began in early childhood, with a deep curiosity for the natural world and it’s inhabitants. Honing her artistic skills at James Cook University, Cindy graduated in 2009 and subsequently began a career as an artist, illustrator and tutor. Working in watercolor, acrylic paint, pastels, ink and pencils, Cindy’s pieces instill a sense of magic and wonder, and have been published and licensed around the world. Her work is held in private, corporate and government collections.
Please visit her website: CindyLane.com.au