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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

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BuildingUpLuminousLayersofDrybrushColor
June19,2017
by CourtneyJordan

18

WatercolorTutorialfromCaliforniaArtistFlorenceStrauss

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

TouchofVelvetbyFlorenceStrauss,20062007,
watercolor,22x30.

ItishowFlorenceStraussgraduallybuildslayersofrelativelydrywatercolorpaintonroughpaper
withastiffbristlebrush,startingwithcolorsthatdefinethebackgroundandmovingtotheobjectsin
theforegroundspace,thathavemadeheroneofthemostbelovedcontemporarywatercoloristsof
ourtime.

Thetermdrybrushisabitdifficulttodefinewithwatercolorbecauseitshardtodetermineexactlyhow
muchorhowlittlewatercanbemixedwiththepaintstoestablishthemasbeingdry.Museum
curatorswillidentifyanAndrewWyethpaintingasbeingadrybrushpicturewhenitisfinishedoffwith
strokesofthick,barelydilutedpaintyetheusuallyreachedthatpointaftersplashinghighlydiluted

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

colorsonroughwatercolorpaperandgraduallyreducingtheamountofwaterhecombineswiththe
successivelayersofpaint.

DontThinkOnIt

FlorenceStraussanswertothedrybrushquestionisthatshejustdoesntgiveitmuchthought.I
guessyoucouldsayIuseadrybrushtechniquebecauseIaddverylittlewatertomypaints,she
confesses.ButIjustsayImawatercolorpainter,andthatsenoughforme.

ButitisclearthatStraussmaterialsandtechniqueswouldleadtodisastrousresultsifsheevermixed
generousamountsofwaterwithherwatercolors.Themultiplelayersofstrongpigmentswouldwork
againstoneanotherandcombinetocreateadense,dull,andstainedsurface.Whethershe
recognizesitornot,thebeautyofherworkiscompletelydependentonkeepingthepaintsdryand
semiopaque.

GraphiteFirst

Workingfromherownphotographs,Straussfirstmakesadetailedgraphitedrawingofasubjecton
Arches400lbroughwatercolorpaper.Iworkeightdaysaweek,butImveryslow,shesayswitha
laugh.IttakesmeacoupleofdaystocompletethedrawingbecauseImveryparticular.Ierase
extraneouslinesandlightenthosethataretoodark,andImakesureeverythingisaccurateand
complete.ThedrawinghastobejustwhatIwantittobebeforeIconsiderstartingthepainting
process.IgothroughbushelsofpencilsanderasersthatgetworndownasImworking.

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

SentinelbyFlorenceStrauss20062007,watercolor,22x30.

Strausspreparesherselfforpaintingbylayingoutanextensivepaletteofcolors:

Paynesgray
Titaniumwhite
Ceruleanblue
Frenchultramarine
Prussianblue
Cobaltblue
Manganeseblue
Cobaltturquoise
Olivegreen
Hookersgreen
Permanentgreen
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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

Winsorgreen
Lemonyellow
Winsoryellow
Newgamboge
Cadmiumorange
Burntsienna
Sepia
Alizarincrimson
Winsorred
Permanentrose
Violet

Impartialtothewarmcolorsbecausetheyaremoreappealingtome,explainstheartist.Idont
lookatthenamesofthecolorsonthetubeswhenIpickuponeortheother.Ijustgrabtheonethat
looksappropriateforwhatIampainting.

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor
SunlightandShadowsbyFlorenceStrauss,20062007,watercolor,29x41.

VanillaandIcebyFlorenceStrauss20062007,watercolor,29x22.

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

LayerbyLayer

1.Straussstartsbuildinguplayersofdarkcolorinthebackgroundareasofthepictureusingastiffbristle
brushandrelativelydrypaint.Thebristlebrushpunctuates,whereasasablebrushwouldglide,the
artistpointsout.
2.Ipaintonesmallareaatatime,notexpectingthebrushtoholdalotofpaintortomakealong,
extendedmark.Bykeepingthepaintrelativelydry,Icanbuildupfourorfivelayersofcolorwithout
themmixingtothepointthatthecolorsbecomedenseordull.Forexample,Irecentlydevelopeda
backgroundbypaintingabrilliantred,thenablack,andthenmoreredtoestablishapulsatinginterplay
ofthetwostrongcolors.IfIhaddonethatwithfluidmixturesofpaintusingasablebrush,theresults
wouldhavebeenquitedifferent.IthinkthedrytechniqueIusecreatesamuchmoreexciting
background.
3.Progressinglogically,Straussmovesforwardinspacetopainttheflowers,landscapeelements,or
objectsinthemiddlespaceofherphotographusingthesamepaintingtechniques.
4.Finally,shereachestheforegroundelementsanddevelopsthemwithfourorfivelayersofdrypaint.
Theentireprocesscantakeaslongasthreeorfourweekstocomplete,withthemusicofHaydn,
Strauss,andMozartplayinginherstudio.

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TwilightinVenicebyFlorenceStrauss,20062007,watercolor,29x21.

DrybrushforLandscape&FloralAlike

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Strausshasrecentlybeenusingthisdrybrushtechniqueonaseriesoffloralimages,butshehas
foundtheprocessjustaseffectiveindevelopinglandscapesfromthephotographstakenwhile
travelingwithherhusband.Welovetotravel,andItakephotographseverywherewego,she
explains.Ivedonelotsofpaintingsfromthosephotographsandwillcontinuetodosointhefuture.

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FamilyofRosesbyFlorenceStrauss,20062007,watercolor,30x20.
ArticlecontributionsfromM.StephenDoherty.

Youhavetheuniqueopportunitytoevokeluminosityacrosseveryinchofyournextwatercolor
paintingwithLightUpYourWatercolorsLayerByLayerasyourguide.ThiseBookisasimpleclick
awayandyoucanavoidpaintingdullandlifelesswatercolorsforever.Excitedforyou,artists!Thisis
propositionwellworthconsideringandactingon.Enjoy!

Courtney

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AmericanArtistFeaturedArtistGalleries, HowToPaint,Watercolor
WatercolorPainting

AboutCourtneyJordan
CourtneyistheeditorofArtistDaily.Forher,artisoneoflifesessentialsandacareer
mainstay.ShespursuedacademicstudiesoftheOldMastersofSpainandItalyaswellas
museumcuratorialexperience,writingandreportingonartsandcultureasamagazinestaffer,
andacquiringandeditingarchitectureandculturalhistorybooks.Shehopestorecommit
herselftomorestudiotime,too,workinginmixedmedia. ViewallpostsbyCourtneyJordan

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7thoughtsonBuildingUpLuminousLayersofDrybrushColor

May17,2007at2:44pm

Hello,

Anonymou IdidenjoyreadingaboutFlorenceStrussandloookingatthepaintings.However,
s IreallywouldlovetoreadmoreabouthowFlorenceStrusspaintsandtosee
moreofherpaintings.Therefore,IneedtoknowifFlorenceStrusshasabook
withinformationonherandherpaintingstyle.

Thankyou
BelindaTartaglia

May21,2007at6:20pm

Helloaswell,

Anonymou Whatawonderfularticle.Iknowmanythingsaboutmydearmother,butthis
s articlerevealedevenmore.

Thankyouforthewords,StephenDoherty,andthankyouforthegreatmothering,
Florence.

CynthiaStrauss

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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

June9,2007at8:24am

Hi,IthinkFlorenceStrausssworkisoutstanding.Iwoulddefinatelyliketosee
moreofherpaintingsandmoreinfoaboutherabook,videoorwebsite.You
Anonymou haveafanFlorence.Verena.
s

June19,2007at7:29am

Yourpaintingsarebeautiful.Ilovepaintingfloralsandstartedusingacryliclike
watercolor,somytechniqueissimilar.Iamnowintowatercolor,butlovethe
Anonymou colorsthatcanbeachievedusingthedryermethodofapplication.Iwassurprised
s atyourusingroughpaper.Ihavetogivethatatry.Thanksforsharingwithus.

February6,2008at6:58am

IhaveabeautifulStrausspaintingoftheLighthouseonthePalaceVerdePier.It
wasgiventomeforaweddinggiftin1982.Iamthankfulforthefriendship
Anonymou FlorencehashadwithmymotherOpheliafromsinceherWayneStateUniversity
s Days.

March13,2009at1:57pm

Whatawonderfularticleandbeautifulpictures.Iamblessedtoenjoythis
phenomenalartistsworkeveryday.Mywallsarecoveredwithherwonderous
Anonymou works.Iwillalwaysloveandtreasurethesegiftsbecauseoftheirbeauty.IfeelI
s cansmelltheflowersandstepintothelandscapes.AlthoughIammostcertainly
biased(Iamherdaughter),theworksspeakforthenselves.
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6/19/2017 WatercolorTutorialonBuildingUpLayersofDrybrushColor

September22,2013at1:17pm

Ilikethisartistwork.Itisbeautiful,flowingandshelikescolor.Herworkseemsto
glow.
E.D.

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