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Relearning is hard

When you don’t practice something, you tend to forget what you once knew well.  Use it or lose it. Learning something for the first time isn’t easy, but sometimes relearning is hard, too.

So here’s the first thing I used to know well, but somehow managed to forget when I went from watercolor to acrylic last year, and then back to watercolor this summer. Watercolor is transparent (doh) so you can see through one color to the color underneath, or to the paper under that.  So if you put red on top of green, you see both which yields a kind of dull red, or mud.

In this original version of Falling, you can see the difference between the magenta on the left painted on white paper (it glows) and the same magenta on the right, painted on top of the green (ugh! dull!)

Falling Original

Falling, Original

No way to fix it … or was there?  Normally, I would have painted over the red and yellow on the right with white gouache (essentially opaque watercolor). But I didn’t have any so I used acrylic…

So here’s the second version of Falling and the second thing I used to know well but somehow managed to forget. Painting watercolor on white acrylic is like painting on Yupo:  the paint swims around and it is almost impossible to get a smooth color. It’s true you can now see that it is the same magenta color, and yellows as well, but the colors didn’t run and move the way they do on the left side. And I couldn’t seem to get that vibrant magenta color.

Falling, still dead

Falling, still dead

At this stage, I think it’s hopeless. I’d have to just paint yet another new painting, and actually leave the space for the red and yellow blocks white in the middle of the green wash.  Or paint the red and yellow blocks first and then paint the green around them. Maybe there needs to be a third version of Falling. Then again…

Next month I go back to the League and probably back to acrylic … and probably a whole new set of lessons once learned, and again forgotten.  Aargh. I keep telling myself, if it were easy, everyone could do it.

Posted by ruthhurd on August 23, 2016
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 08/24/2016

    Great post! I wonder if you added some pastel if it might work somehow?

    • 08/24/2016

      Not sure. I’ve used pastel on watercolor before, but only for very small highlights. You’d have to spray it to make sure the pastel didn’t brush off… I think I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.


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