I chose medium-rough 300gsm Saunders Waterford watercolour paper for this painting and coated it with acrylic sealer after I'd completed the preparatory drawing. I enjoy the feel of painting on a sealed surface but I also like the underlying texture of the watercolour paper - the combination of both seems to suit the way I work.
Out of the Shadows - Eastern Reef Egret
Acrylic 20" x 20"
I thin the paint with a 50/50 mix of water and binder medium and, for objects like the rocks in this painting, apply it with a scrubbing action, vigorously pushing the brush bristle-first rather than drawing it across the surface smoothly in the normal manner. This results in a stippled appearance which helps to establish texture and contributes to the illusion of detail. It usually takes several applications of these transparent washes, allowing each to dry completely, before I'm approaching the tonal value and density of colour I'm looking for. As I apply each overlapping layer, I tend to notice shapes emerging in the paint which are suggestive of the texture of the pock-marked limestone rocks. Left undisturbed to dry, I can then begin to enhance the rock texture more deliberately, using the same thin paint mix. I don't feel the need to use white in my colour mixes as the paint is thin enough that the paper shines through, much as it does when using watercolours. I use a hairdryer to speed things up between each layer, being careful not to move the paint around in the process.
Because the paint is heavily diluted, I work with my painting laid flat rather than using an easel. If I have a problem with this arrangement, it's that the horizontal painting surface tends to accumulate the usual painting paraphernalia and I need to tidy up a little before I can step back to assess how things are progressing. Perhaps that's not such a bad thing!