Saturday, October 31, 2009

Stephen Quiller Workshop – fabulous Friday

October 23, 2009 opened with Steve teaching about greys & near greys. We select neutrals that best fit with the colors and desired mood that we have chosen for our painting. Naturally, the choice of support will also influence the visual quality of these color choices. Rough watercolor paper is ideal where granulation is desired.

  1. Grey /neutrals -- these are mixes of color in which no color bias is visible. Example red-orange and blue-green [if the correct hue is used] will mix to a perfect neutral gray. 
  2. Near greys -- like a neutral grey, these can be mixed with just two colors. However rather than having no color identifiable, one or the other color is allowed dominance. Example, red-orange and blue-green mixed just to the blue-green side.
  3. Near greys using a complement’s neighbor. Example, rather than using blue-green to neutralize red-orange, beautiful nearer greys can be made by using either blue or green.

Examples 1-3 are labeled on the chart below:

redorange near greysSteve also demonstrated how naples yellow, cobalt violet ,and cerulean blue can be used together to make a high key triad. All of these colors are beautiful granulating pigments and a mix of all three gives a gorgeous near grey [see centre of next photo]. I'm a big fan of granulation so this was a real fun eye-opener for me. A more complete description [a full two-page spread] of this triad is given on page 38 of Water Media Painting with Stephen Quiller.

 naples quiller violet cereleunSince returning home I've had a chance to read Steve's description of the various categories of watercolor paints [in WaterMedia Painting], including a description of organic versus nonorganic watercolors, the visual qualities of watercolor paint [granulating versus staining], and how to best employ all of these various types of watercolor paint. Suffice to say I think this book is a valuable resource. I expect to be referring to it for years to come.


In the afternoon Steve moved on to a discussion of various binders used in water-media painting. All of the binders [watercolor, gouache, casein, & acrylic] in use today have their own natural strengths. To demonstrate the various strengths, Steve painted a landscape using a combination of acrylic, watercolor, and casein paint. Believe it or not he began with a loose wash of acrylic! Like most of the students, I had assumed that once you used acrylic you would no longer be able to over paint that area with watercolor. However, as long as the acrylic paint is applied thinly, other water media can follow because the surface has not been sealed. Once the acrylic was dry, Steve painted over portions of it with watercolor first, and then with casein, allowing the background color [yellows and oranges] to glow through in places and leaving it completely uncovered in other areas. Again, it was quite a show!

Naturally the next step was for us to go away and execute our own little painting using these principles -- here is mine.

DSCN4069 Enjoy!

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