Thursday, February 4, 2021

Delicate Textures in Gouache and Watercolor

Here are a few examples of artists who created realism by building up delicate textures. 

John Henry Hill (1839-1922) used fine strokes to suggest foliage. 

These crosshatched textures resembled the strokes of engravings and were sometimes referred to as "chopped straw." 

William Henry Hunt (1790-1864) was a follower of English art critic John Ruskin, who coined the term:
"It is better to lay the uppermost colour in rather vigorous small touches, like finely chopped straw, over the under one, than to lay it on as a tint, for two reasons : the first, that the play of the two colours together is pleasant to the eye ; the second, that much expression of form may be got by wise administration of the upper dark touches."

In the watercolors / gouaches of William Trost Richards (1833-1905), the small strokes vary a bit from warm to cool, giving the surfaces some chromatic vibrancy.

Henry Roderick Newman (1843-1917) must have taken days to do a painting like this, but it can also be a speedy method. 

Ruskin said, "The use of acquiring this habit of execution is that you may be able, when you begin to colour, to let one hue be seen in minute portions, gleaming between the touches of another." He advised his students to work slowly and delicately, using the point of the pencil or brush “as if you were drawing the down on a butterfly’s wing.”

Watch the whole video on YouTube,


Steve Gilzow said...

Thanks for this, James. Now if I can only track down one of those Old School pencils...

Giacomo | said...

Interesting post and video. This reminds me of pointillism: if I recall correctly, pointillism was born after the scientific discovery of how eyes perceive colour, and that shadows cast by a coloured object are tinted with the complementary colour. Knowing this, they painted with little strokes or points of different colours that the eyes perceived like the "real" colour. Later, Van Gogh was inspired by this techniques for his style

Pierre Fontaine said...

This "chopped straw" technique seems similar to Andrew Wyeth's painting technique where he used a lot of little strokes to create texture, detail and color variation.