Saturday, October 24, 2015

Painting flat or on an angle

What's your preference? painting on a flat surface or on an angled surface?

Many beginner watercolourists ask what is the ideal angle of a painting surface.  This question requires a more complex answer than just to say about 20 degrees. Like many things in life, the real answer is: “It depends on .....”

Obviously, water flows faster or slower depending on the angle of the slope it is on.  The speed of the flow depends on how much water is on your watercolour paper, and the smoothness of your paper. It will flow faster on hot press paper and not so fast on rough paper. If only a thin layer of water is on your paper then it will not flow very fast no matter what angle your board is set to. On the other hand, if you have a lot of water on your paper, then the steeper the angle of the surface the more your watercolours will flow.  In answering the question of how much angle, you have to ask yourself if you want the paint to flow and how much control you want.

Here are some reasons for painting on a flat surface:
  • you plan on using lots of water and don't want that streaky effect;
  • when painting in hot weather, a flatter angle will slow down the drying time;
  • may feel more natural since we are used to leaning over to read and write.

Here are some for angled surfaces:
  • easier to step back to get a better perspective of your painting;
  • easier to maintain a better posture (avoid leaning over with rounded shoulders) to reduced back pains;
  • reduces tendency to get too close and add too many details. I think painting using an easel forces you to loosen up;
  • you like the streaky effects (dribbles).

When I watch artists paint on very angled surfaces, I certainly get the impression that the artist is more proficient. Although I paint on almost flat surfaces, I have painted using my two easels. These tools requires much more practice before I become comfortable using them.  If you are getting a travel easel, the ability to angle the surface is a key feature.

There is no right or wrong angle for everyone or every painting situation, it's all part of developing our style and that will change with time.

Today's artist find is Jan Comstock
Jan Comstock "the dreamer"

Have a great week

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