Monday, July 4, 2011

Painting in the Manner of Thomas Schaller

Thomas Schaller is a wonderful watercolor artist I follow on Facebook. I've always admired the way he can paint his main subject emerging from a misty background, and have wondered how he achieves that effect. A couple of weeks ago Thomas posted a series of photos to depict his painting process, so I decided to create my own painting by using his method, to see whether I could get a similar misty result.

Here's the Facebook album with Thomas Schaller's painting process.

From reading about his process, I learned that Thomas puts down a second wash right over his first wash before it's dry. My watercolor teachers have always said that, although you can put thicker paint over a wash that's still wet or damp, you should never put down a second wash until the first is completely dry. I've always obediently let my first layer dry before putting on another wash, but ignoring this rule is, as I discovered from this experiment, Thomas' secret for getting that misty background. Here's one caveat, though, based on my prior experience: be sure to entirely cover the first wash with the second one if you wish to avoid "blooms" at the edges of the second wash. I also learned that you have to paint really fast to actually get the second wash on before the first becomes too dry to produce the desired misty effect.

Here's my first attempt to paint in the manner of Thomas Schaller. Notice all that lovely mist in the background! (Be sure to read Thomas' comment below this picture.)

Dewey Lakes from Naches Loop Trail

I put a link to this post on Thomas Schaller's Facebook page, and he's already responded with this clarification about his process:
thomas w. schaller - watercolor artist wrote: "Thanks so much Megan. Just looked at your blog post - very nice! I appreciate it greatly. The only clarification is that in this painting, my first wash was still wet, but only at the lower portion - because of the steep angle, the top part was fairly dry so that i could keep the edges of the buildings pretty clean - then they melted into the wetter lower portion. I know you'd figure it out, but as you can imagine - nothing but a real disaster if you go into a completely wet wash too soon -))"
Thank you, Thomas!!! It was a lucky thing, then, that I was too slow to put my second wash into a completely wet first wash.


Bad Jones Rising said...

I love going against the grain. If I ain't supposed to do it then I do it with double the passion. Lol I really like it, it really does have a misty feel... Like early morning twilight...

Megan Seagren said...

Bad, you're just so - bad!

I'm glad you like the painting. Thanks!