Saturday, April 6, 2013

Free Paintings

Whimbrels and Lauging Gull at Nummy Island. Crayon and wash by Ken Januski

Swamp Sparrow in Papermill Run. Crayon and wash by Ken Januski.

No, I'm not giving away any free paintings. Instead I'm referring to the feeling I have when I've finished a Caran d'Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayon sketch with wash on Stillman and Birn sketchbook pages. Used the way I'm using them they are actually more like small paintings than anything else. Best of all they allow more working, reworking, overworking than any other medium other than acrylic and/or oil. And I don't need to do it on canvas. I can use these small pieces of paper.

For someone who's not an artist this may make little sense. The main problem is that, especially with watetcolor, you can't do to much experimenting. It's extremely difficult to put a light color over a dark color if you decide that the dark color doesn't work. Continued working turns the painting to mud. There's no brightness left. And you need to use good quality watercolor paper if you're going to keep working and reworking what's there.

This combination of materials gets around that to a large extent because the Stillman and Birn papers are very hardy. And you can always go back into the painting with the crayons to bring back more brilliant color if things have gotten a bit muddy. The only thing that doesn't work is bringing back a brilliant white. For that you really need to resort to white gouache and even it may be a bit darker than I'd like. Still I've never seen a quicker or easier way for working through ideas for paintings. And as I've said before, if the sketch turns out well eough that you'd like to keep, frame or sell it, the quality of the paper allows you to do this without feeling guilty. I have done other sketches that I've always been reluctant to offer for sale because I wasn't sure how long the paper would hold up.

By the way the birds portrayed are numerous Whimbrel and one Laughing Gull from Nummy Island in New Jersey and a Swamp Sparrow, always elegant in gray and chestnut, in Papermill Run at Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. I'm still wating to see my first Swamper of 2013.

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