“Aspen and Rocks”
Watercolor on Paper
by Hilary Page
When doing the research for my book “Hilary Page’s Guide to Watercolor Paints” I found some unique and exciting textural paints in the Daniel Smith watercolor range: Lunar Black and Lunar Earth impart a beautiful, reticulated texture when applied in watercolor washes as shown in the demonstration. The pigments used in these paints are sometimes called magnetic iron oxide pigments because of another unusual quality. They’re magnetic! This characteristic was borne out when I dipped a magnet into paint water in which I had washed my paintbrush after using Lunar Black and Lunar Earth. The pigment particles were so iron rich and heavy that they were totally drawn to the magnet leaving my paint water practically clear!
Two other of my favorite paints that impart texture are Daniel Smith’s Cobalt Violet and Cobalt Violet Deep. I used these together with the following Daniel Smith paints for demonstration: Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine, Quinacridone Magenta and Hansa Yellow Light.
I also used Black India ink for the later stages. Note that in the illustrations, each stage is slightly different because I painted them separately to ensure optimum color for printing.
Chosen from a number of value and line sketches I had made of imaginary scenes of aspens and rocks, I then made a line drawing of the scene (see Stage 3) on my 22″ x 30″ sheet of 140 lb. cold-pressed watercolor paper using a simple cross grid to help with enlarging and getting the proportions. If you are a beginner and want to try this demonstration, I recommend that you use a quarter sheet of watercolor paper (15″ x 11″).
Next, I prepared to lay in the first wet-on-wet wash by mixing in individual palettes a blob of each paint with some water for each color type. The palettes were Lunar Black and Lunar Brown, the Colbalt Violets, French Ultramarine, and Hansa Lemon with a touch of Magenta to make a slightly dulled yellow. I left some of the original blob of each paint in the respective palette. I then wet my paper and applied the paint as shown when the paper surface was still wet and shiny. Finally, I rested my paper flat on a cotton rag to absorb back-runs round the edges.
When the paper was completely dry I proceeded to define the underlying shapes as shown (below) to give the painting a strong underlying abstract structure. For this I used the same color over the colors of the first wash, apart from Lunar Black and Lunar Earth as shown. The jagged edges and splits between rocks are painted with the straight edge of a 3″ flat nylon brush. I also added the core shadows to the trees using Cobalt Blue and French Ultramarine to help give the illusion of roundness. I dried this stage before progressing.
I painted the shadow sides of the rocks, also the lines and darker shadows where one rock rests on another. I made details on the bark by dragging a single-edged blade laden with thick, straight-from-the-tube-paint across the form in black, brown and mixtures of the other dark colors used in the painting. When looking up the ellipse makes a sad face and when looking down in makes a happy face! I completed the painting by adding pen work with a bamboo pen. I hope this demonstration inspires you to now paint your own aspen and rock scene! Try it!