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Friday, September 18, 2015

My Choice for Watercolor Underpaintings

'Jewels in the Wheat'               11x14             pastel              ©Karen Margulis
available $165
 It was never my favorite technique. I admired the wonderful watercolor underpaintings by Richard McKinley. And even though I bought good watercolors and practiced...they still left something to be desired. I just couldn't seem to consistently get the intensity and punch I wanted.

I know that practice has a lot to do with success. Honestly I never spent much time improving my underpaintings. It may be part practice but the choice of materials also has a lot to do with success. The enjoyment of the materials and process also leads to more practice.

I have discovered a new option for doing watercolor underpaintings. 
Cretacolor AquaBriques.

A vibrant watercolor underpainting using Cretacolor Aqua Briques



I discovered them by accident at an art materials fair. The price was right so I decided to give them a try. I fell in love with the intense bold color I was able to get with them. You can use them like traditional pan watercolors or you can actually pick up the brick and draw or color with them and then wet with a brush.  The colors are perfect and mix easily to create wonderful underpaintings.


Aqua Brique is a solid water-soluble block of color used as a traditional watercolor cake or for drawing dry or wet. Use on wet paper for subtle watercolor effects or draw with it dry and apply water with a brush. Special pigments ensure luminous colors, outstanding water-solubility, and exceptional lightfastness.

About today's painting: This is a scene from the wheat (barley?) fields in Normandy, France. I discovered this wonderful vibrant patch of purple thistle growing at the edge of the field. They sparkled like jewels against the golden wheat. 11x14 on white wallis with Terry Ludwig and Diane Townsend pastels.

6 comments:

Sande said...

Good idea! I don't have those but I do have a small set of Neocolor sticks - probably similar enough to try.
Beautiful pastel too.
Thank you for posting these mini-teachings. I have learned so much from your generous sharing! You are obviously a natural for teaching.

robertsloan2art said...

Oh those aqua briques look like fun! When you let the color drip, Karen, how do you decide where to let it drip? Does it just happen and you don't think about it or do you deliberately use excess water and tilt paper to make it run? I tend to not use as much water and get too afraid of drips, tips on controlling them and creating them deliberately would rock.

tres said...

Luv this painting!

Sandy Young said...

Are these available online?

Vanessa said...

Hi Karen, do you tend to do water colour underpinnings on white paper only? Also any particular type of paper? I'm always afraid that I will loose the tooth on the paper once wet.

Karen said...

Hi! Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I have been out of town. The Cretacolors are available online at several places. Blick has them. Vanessa, I prefer white sanded paper. I am using Pastel Premiere paper. The paint has to be thin and then it will not fill the tooth!