Painting #13- week 13 of 52/52 Painting Challenge
"Cicada Passage" ©2012 Mindy Lighthipe Watercolor on Vellum
This past weekend I took a painting on vellum class with Karen Kluglein at the Sag Harbor Inn on Long Island. Karen does beautiful botanical watercolors on vellum. Her work is delicate and full of life and form. For those of you who don't know, vellum is animal skin. As I learn more about it I will share with you what I find out.
I knew that this workshop was going to be a challenge for me because this watercolor technique is with a very dry brush. For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I am the wet and splashy kind of watercolorist. I think it is always good for me to to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Working contrary to the way I am used to painting puts a jolt into my system and gets the creative juices flowing. I have admired the work of many artists who work on vellum so I thought I would give it a whirl. I must admit that it is labor intensive and requires a slow methodical repetition, but I enjoyed it!
I always seem to have a hard time staying "pure" within a medium. I quickly strayed from the technique in many ways. I worked on 3 paintings during the 2 days, 2 of them were insects and the other one was a parrot tulip. Here is the cicada painting that I finished. Here is how I strayed from the traditional methods on this one. I started by inking in my subject using a rapidograph pen. It was super easy to get the fine lines of the veins on the wings. I painted mostly in watercolor but did use a dash of white gouache on the eyes, wings and body. The background texture that you see is actually the pigmentation of the animal skin. I believe this was calf skin and I really liked the variation in color. I am used to working on super white watercolor paper so this was a switch for me. All in all I was happy with my first attempt and I think I will keep up with this technique and see what I can come up.
Have you worked on vellum? What has been your experience? I would love to hear all about it!
Hi MIndy, your Cicada painting is just lovely, the wings are especially delightful. I would love to have a go at insects, i think they would add a certain something to flower paintings. It was great to hear about your experience with vellum. I have never used it myself, have had it in my hands though, close enough for now!!
I agree that insects add another dimension to botanicals. Can’t wait to see you incorporate one in your next painting!
I would love to try painting on vellum one time. Looking forward to reading more about your working on it. I thought the background texture was interesting, not sure if I'd have been able to work with that so well. A very beautiful image 🙂
Hi Geri! Welcome to my blog. The color of this vellum was a bit tricky to work with. The color comes through and changes the overlapping transparent watercolor. This is one of the reasons I used a bit of white gouache. I was missing highlights. I would not have used it on a flower or delicate subject because the color would had been too strong. I hope you get a chance to work in vellum. It is a bit tricky but worth the effort.
this looks amazing. I will try vellum
Thanks Bar b for leaving a comment. I am relatively new to vellum and I was thrilled with the results. It is a bit tricky to use with watercolor. If you put too much paint or water on the vellum the layers underneath come up. Build layers up slowly and make sure that they are dry inbetween. Have fun!
Very interesting. I use wc but have never tried vellum. But will try. Thanks for the tips.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope that you have fun with vellum. It can be tricky but very rewarding.
Hi Mindy, Your paintings are beautiful. I couldn’t use vellum due to the fact is is of animal origin. What other paper would you suggest, to get the same kind of look? Thank you. Linda
Thank you for your comment. I can appreciate you not wanting to use vellum.I am not really sure what you could use that would give you a similar effect. The vellum I worked on was from a cow and it had all the mottled and irregular surface. Many artists that I know work with the vellum that is pure white. I really liked the heavy texture an color pigmentation. Maybe you could try trying to do some light washes over the entire watercolor paper that are granular. I have seen artists use coffee grounds that irregularly stain/pigment the paper. Let me know if you come up with something that works. Cheers, Mindy
Mindy, I stumbled upon this site while enjoying your painting on The Watercolor Club on Facebook. Watercolor is my favorite medium, but I’ve yet to paint any insects. Cicadas are very common here, in the St Louis area, but the ones in my yard are more of an army green. I’m thinking that I should try painting one of the more colorful varieties as you’ve done (so beautifully!). I’ve really enjoyed reading about the process of painting on vellum. Like you, I’m not a purist when it comes to watercolor, I use whatever necessary to get the job done, with the best results! Keep up the terrific work… 😀
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I appreciate your comment and that you told me how you found me. I hope that you have fun painting cicadas as well as working on vellum. It is definitely a challenge but work it! Let me know if you have questions and if you have some where that you post your paintings let me know. I would love to see them!