Experiments and Setups

It's Jet's spring break. He's been giving a me a lot of time, though, at various tasks, but I suddenly found myself painting a lot rather than writing. I got a whole roll of their premium double shuen paper from Oriental Art Supplies for about $20, that's 10 sheets of 27" by 54" paper, which is huge! I'm more used to cutting the 27" by 18" into two sheets of 13.5 by 18" and those are my large paintings. I've cut them down even further for the smaller doodles. So that's a lot of paintings per sheet. So plenty of entertainment and learning.

Amusingly enough, I'm using more of my stores of my cheaper, mildly lower quality papers, first; but I got out the good ink sticks (having given the others away and thrown out the old bottled ink) and my good brushes (again having given the others away to avoid temptation to go back to old tools), and have been finding myself enjoying the results ever so much more.

Ruined Plum and Sparrows WIP
For those that saw the unbacked painting a while back and wondered what happened to it. I backed it and found out that the old bottled ink that I was using ran like mad. Bah humbug. It happened a little on the hedgehog as well, but not nearly as badly as it did on this one, but I'd really tried to make the blacks very, very black on the sparrows. Looking at the one finch I loved of the ones when I was trying them out, I can see that, maybe, I don't have to have it be that deadly a black.

Since that time, I actually have thrown out that bottle of ink. I find that it's just better to not have the temptation, and I bought a very good stick of ink and gave away my medium-all-right stick of ink, and then my mother gave me two gorgeous sticks that are all embossed with real gold leaf and it's bemusing to grind it and get tiny glints of gold in the paintings.

The things one can do for beauty.

Plum and Sparrow WIP
My second attempt which I do not like so much. Though, honestly, it's actually a third or fourth attempt, and this at least had a number of the concepts if not the execution I wanted. I like the reaching aspect of the branches of the first one better, and the attitude of the sparrows better, and this one still has some runny bits about the heads, where my water control was not as good as it should have been.

Still, it hasn't run yet, and I should back it to see... one cool bit of news was that my mother really, really liked how I'd backed one of the chrysanthemums I gave her. So I now know that my backing technique is good. Those two flowers I did with the stick ink as it just felt proper to do an all-ink painting with the stick ink rather than the bottle, and I'm now very, very glad I did. I still need to put together that tutorial somewhere.

I need to go through it again and see if I can use less water and get the glue to stick better or something. I had a little trouble with that last time, but the single shuen's always harder to mount as it just soaks everything up so readily.

Orchid with EarthOrchid
Two orchids in a row. I don't usually show all the orchids I do just for the doing's sake, but these two both turned out better than I'd hoped. Though the more spontaneous one (without the ground speckling) was the more terrifying of the two as I was doing it on the single shuen paper. And I was going without any reference at all on that one, so the way the blossoms turned out was a delight.

I'm finally mastering water control on orchid blossoms, as they're such small strokes, but they have to show all the color variation from a dark tip to a light root. Plus, the "happy dots" of the stamen and anthers are such a big deal as they're the only accent to the flower itself that is perfectly clear. I had fun trying to get the stems to work, and the leaves, as always, are something of a joy and trial. Yes, there is one weak stroke in each of these, and I had to just leave them be. *laughs*

They're a little exhausting because the leaves have to be done with full confidence and a knowledge of how the weight of the brush will make each leaf flow.

Outlined Cherry BlossomsMountain
The exercises in using washes on double shuen paper. The mountain is a much larger version of the little scrap one I'd done earlier, and it captures some of the things I really wanted to work out. Both getting the colors far more vivid on the rock itself and making the upper right hand mountain more ghostly, plus firming up the pine tree in the foreground. I like the pine needles much better, and have made a better go at making the pine tree "sinuous like dragons". *laughs*

The cherry blossoms aren't quite right yet, and I'm having a lovely anatomical discussion of the bits that make a cherry a real cherry... from the longer "stem" that goes from bud to tree, the fact that there are bunches, and that the flower petals have the little notch in the edge! So I get to try this again, the closeup detailing to make it right is amazing for what's possible. I also probably need to find some sized paper, as the exercise of outlining and then washing in the colors is actually, traditionally, done on a sized (blinks mildly at finding sized silk and the *possibilities go boom*) (ahem) paper called "glass" paper. It's extremely detailed work and almost takes me back to drawing... *thoughtfuls* Which I should probably be doing more of anyway.

Still. It was a fun exercise with what I had. I may as well just use the heavily sized watercolor paper I have for my next try with it, as it'll do what needs to be done without the cloud of color from the washes.

Crooked Bamboo
One of my books had a picture of crooked, broken bamboo, and I remembered seeing it that way at the San Diego Zoo as well, so I went for it as I loved the concept of it. Nearly all the bamboo one sees is straight and tall and even if it slants about a bit, it's obviously whole, but the stuff at the San Diego Zoo sometimes gets harvested for the various animals and some of it just gets beat up by millions of visitors to the zoo. And I'd seen some broken off and branchy, so I had fun with this.

I love the idea of it still being beautiful even if it's broken...

Anyway. It was fun.
They really are beautiful. The bamboo one right at the end is gorgeous. But they're all lovely. I need a better vocabulary to appreciate them with. :)
Hee. I like your vocabulary very well enough, lady. *grins* I am glad that they pleased!
And these are things that you're just testing out your technique on? Gagh! If I had half that skill I'd be thrilled.
I sometimes think everything is a test and sometimes it turns out better than others. Like the spontaneous orchid and the bamboo... I'm still trying with the sparrows and the mountain, but it's cool to see my progress on 'em.

Thank you!! I'm glad you find them good!
These are awesome! Thank you for sharing them! Actually, I really like the topmost "ruined" one somehow. The blurred ink 'shadows' give it a vividness and depth that the second one doesn't have. And the blurs around the blossoms convey a sense of movement. It probably breaks traditional brush painting rules, but I think it's cool. :)


I should bring it the next time I'm in the Bay Area and give it to you! It would be much easier to frame than the other one, too, as it is backed.
:-) Good, I was just going throw it out, so it's better if it gets a home if you want it.
oh, forgot to ask - remind me what the backing process is?
It's basically gluing another piece of paper to the back of the painting, using a flour and water based glue, so that it can be undone and redone if needed. It's to help stiffen the whole painting and make it more resistant to tearing. It also helps make the whole thing more durable and easier to mat and frame.

It has the nice, additional property of making the white of the paper more white, so that the colors stand out better.
*grins* am I weird for saying I like the backed one that got 'messed up'? if I am, then I am ... I like it ... it's neat and I think gives it a bit more personality. shadow and depth and movement. *grins and shrugs* but they're all really beautiful. you're very talented.
*grins* Thank you!

Skill rather than talent? *laughs* Been at this three years on and off, so I'm starting to get the technique into my hands and head, I think.

We're going on a trip tomorrow, it turns out. *laughs* So I might be kind of busy packing and stuff, but I'll txt if I can find some time in the morning!
hmmmmmms ... well, I'm sure you had a base talent to start with, but you've been working to develop that talent into a gorgeous skill. or something like that *laughs* either way, you've got both. but it sounds a little silly to say 'you're skillful'. to me anyway. even with a talent show, you take something you're marginally good at and work to develop it until you're GOOD!

and now I'm babbling *laughs* and I think we've had this convo before?

have a good trip tomorrow. I'll be around if you have time.
*giggles* I thought so.

what I was trying to say, is that talent is what you start with and it becomes a skill when you work to develop it, but your everyday common language doesn't really reflect that very well. I never hear anyone say, 'oh you're so skilled.' it's always, 'you're so talented.'

*snugs* if I don't see you in the morning, have a safe trip and have fun.
These are just so, so lovely. I really enjoy your art postings and my chance to see them.
*beams* *dances about*

I'm thinking of birds with broken bamboo for you, I think... *laughs* It should be fun.
Count me in as one of the people who thinks the run ink on the first one is actually kind of a neat effect. Sometimes mistakes turn out better than you'd think, I guess.

These are all really lovely, though!
*laughs* I know it's actually quite bad. *laughs*

I'm good that people like it! I'll keep it as a reference for a bit and rather than just trash it I'll probably send it to Marith as she said she liked it first.

Thank you, though! I'm glad you like the rest.