Surowicz Rocks: 4.21-4.22

This is exercises 4.21-4.22 from Rick Surowicz’s Podia Rocks and Water.

It strikes me as I type this up that I might need to get Rick’s permission to post these. I’m going to post this, and then ask him-he’s responsive on Facebook.

My concern about that is that someone might stumble on these and decide not to purchase the Podia, thinking they can just go from the pictures I have posted of the exercises. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I recommend purchasing it. The things I’m saying here are just things I thought about as I went through the classes, but in order to really absorb the information, I think it’s imperative to listen to his explanations, and watch him paint. If it weren’t for actually watching him do these techniques, I wouldn’t have realized some of the mistakes I’ve been making, like stabbing pigment on the paper. That’s not something he even mentions, I only learned that lesson because I could compare my motions to his.

Anyway, this exercise is all about texture. Here are the things I learned:

I’m Probably Wrong About Color Theory

My last post talked about what defines a warm and a cool color. I argued that warm colors were closer to green, cooler colors are closer to black. As I painted these rocks, I explored that a little. I used yellows and greens at the parts that I wanted to be in sunlight, and reds and blues in the shadows. I noticed that the blues definitely did read as if they were in shadow, but the reds not so much. I don’t know if that’s because the reds were close to the blues, but if I were correct, that wouldn’t matter. Red would look like a rock in shadow just as blue would. Maybe, it’s more that a green object can turn red or blue in shadow, but a yellow object will lean more toward becoming red in shadow. I’m really not sure.

Is Salt Safe?

I have seen this technique before of adding salt to wet pigment to get the textures here, and I LOVE the textures I get this way. But, there is so much focus on acid free archival paper and lightfast pigment – I wonder if salt has a deleterious effect on the archival properties of a painting. I want to use the technique because I like the results, but I want to research this more first.

Dry Spritz vs Damp Spritz

I have never dried the dry spritzing method Rick describes, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. However, the results I got were different from the results Rick got. When he does this technique there was a much more dramatic change than I saw. I think this is due to pigment choice. I’m using all Daniel Smith pigments, except for my Quin Gold which is M. Graham. I don’t know what Rick is using, but they don’t appear to stain as easily as the pigments I’m using, which might account for the ease with which he can lift textures. That, or using a cloth makes a big difference as opposed to using a napkin. Or, I’m letting the spritzed water sit too long, or not long enough. Or, there is something about the way I’m striking the paper that’s different.

Regardless, the damp spritzing had similar differences for me. His pigments seemed to move more easily.

I know DS Indie Blue is a super heavy stained, so maybe that’s part of it. He calls his Blue “Royal Blue” and mentions somewhere that it’s PB60. I wonder if it’s Holbein? Anyway, there is something different that makes my results different from his. My DS pigments seem to stay put a little more than the ones he uses.

Pet the Paper

I avoided stabbing the pigment entirely on these exercises, and it helped a lot. Not only does it give more graceful washes, but it takes a bit of the anxiety away from painting. I find myself feeling more relaxed and enjoyed this more when I tried to not stab pigments. Weird. But, it’s true.

Don’t be Afraid of Quick Value Changes

I tried to get gradual value changes up until I painted that rock in the bottom right corner. Man-I love that rock. It goes from a light yellow-Gold to an intensely dark blue very quickly, and the abrupt change adds a ton of action and interest. I can’t over do this, or it’ll spoil my paintings-but I shouldn’t be afraid to use it here and there.

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