watercolor study of kerlingarfjoll, iceland

i’ve completed my first watercolor in ages, and it’s because the scenery in iceland is so spectacular i just couldn’t NOT paint it.

but first, the process.

i’ve brought a whole bunch of pigments with me, and all my binders, so i can make oil paint, watercolor paint, acrylic paint, encaustic paint, simply by adding my pigments to the desired binder.  and this is how i like it.  i greatly resent the high prices and unknown ingredients used in modern paints, and am quite happy making my own paints.  i highly recommend it.  it’s easy, and you know what’s in your paints.  and you don’t pay an arm and a leg for proprietary paint mixtures.

paints my paint pigments, all laid out according to colors. loads of pigments.

i sent myself these pigments months ago, thinking that perhaps i didn’t want to try to take them past airport security, where they view anything unusual with suspicion.  and i’ve heard horror stories of artists having their paints confiscated.  i don’t think you can buy dry pigments in iceland…

mixing paint

the fist step in making watercolor paint is to spoon out a wee bit of dry pigment into a container.  in this case i am using a prechewed plastic palette (i have dogs), and have put a palette knife tip full of pigment into each bowl of the palette.  from top left clockwise:  ultramarine blue, raw umber, mars black, raw umber light, stil de grain, and raw sienna.  if you look closely at the bottom right two, you can see a drop of gum arabic in the bowls.  i have already mixed the gum arabic into the pigments in the other bowls, but stopped to take a picture so you can see the process.

once it’s mixed with gum arabic – the binder – you can use it like normal watercolors, dipping your brush in clean water and mixing it into the paint until you have a brushful of paint.  it then goes on just like commercial watercolor paint.  you don’t want to put too much gum arabic into it, because it will affect the spreadability, flow and gumminess of the paint as it goes on and dries.  way too much gum arabic will make the paint very hard to dissolve with water when you want to pick some up on your brush, and will also give the dried paint an unpleasant sheen.

below you can see all my art supplies, which i brought just in case.  this includes my silk painting stuff and my sewing equipment, because i still have a bit of leather work to finish, and may well get more leather (fish leather oooh wah).

studioequipment i love art supplies

and here is my first completed painting – just a study because i’m going to do the scene in oil paint eventually.  i’m trying to get my choice of pigments right before committing myself to the larger project.

kerlingarfjoll 1 kerlingarfjoll, icelandic highlands

so, just a short post to let you see what i’ve done so far.  we’ll be having an exhibition at the end of the residency here at lishus, and i wanted to have something to show.  i intend to do a few more watercolors, as well as that oil painting, and perhaps a few encaustics.  also, i’m doing a wall mural on the ex gas station opposite the residence.


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