Disaster Recovery

What these two weeks have been–and it wasn’t even my disaster. I assumed the role of network administrator at work a few months back, recognizing a need for dedicated administration. The disaster I predicted happened. My whole life for the time it was down until it recovered revolved around a server. Funny, there was an article recently, which unfortunately I haven’t located, that talks of how stress keeps people from exercising. With all of this going on, I haven’t exercised, written, blogged, nor painted. Not much in the way of any creative outlet. There’s something about computers and data that puts me into a mother bear mode. I was going to see the office through this disaster no matter how tired I was.

So yes, I do have a life outside of writing, albeit one that is as far removed from the creative process as can possible be. Oh, wait. Don’t they say on the WordPress home page that code is poetry? In a way it is, but code has rules that can’t be broken. All this talk of disaster has me in the mindset now to avoid my own.

Back ups. Back ups are vital. The business recovered because it had a back up. For my part, I set up regular back ups on all of my blogs and website. WordPress has a great back up plug-in to not only allow scheduled back ups, but recoveries as well. I actually had to use that recently when I changed providers from GoDaddy to HostGator. The change went smoothly, but I did email support quite a bit with issues along the way. Anyway, so back up.

I utilize both a remote back up via my hosting provider and a back up on a flash drive. Something about the added insurance of “something in hand” is quite comforting. I’ve also put together a folder on my hard drive of necessary plug-ins. I use several, so having to reinstall WP without my suite of tools would hamper me. Again, back up.

I checked in with the office on Monday and all was well. Now I can get back to my creative outlets.

Watercolor Tip: It’s All About Mediums

My husband, who is an oil painter, talks a lot about mediums, how to use them and the mystery surrounding them.  Watercolor has its share, some with more practical uses than others.

Gum Arabic
I like using gum arabic.  Gum arabic is the binder in watercolor paints, albeit some brands have variations of this theme.  It has a couple very good applications.  For one, it will add a luster to your work.  Some beginning watercolorists may be disappointed with watercolor, that it seems lifeless after the paint as dried.  Gum arabic can add this bit of gloss. 

There is a long history of its use with Victorian watercolorists.  Gum arabic and bodycolor, or gouache, were mixed with watercolors and used to make watercolor paintings resemble oil paintings and get the prices that oil paintings were fetching.  Only fair it would seem, with the medium many consider the most difficult.  The Victorian watercolorists would mix it with their paint or use it after the painting was done to "heighten" certain areas.  Of course, this is with a very gentle hand, so as not to upset the painting.  Now before purists cry "foul", this was a point of contention at the time, but there’s no denying that the paintings of this era are absolutely stunning.  Just check out some of the work of William Henry Hunt or John Fredrick Lewis. 

You can use it in several ways.  I like to wet an area with a gum arabic/water solution if I want a bit of control over where the paint will go, perhaps to control the amount of blending in a variegated wash.  You need only a drop or two with your water to accomplish this.  I’m talking about maybe a quarter cup of water and the gum arabic.  I mix up just a small bit to use when I need it.  Too much and the paint won’t move at all and the risk of the paint cracking increases.  Just pre-wet the area and drop your paints in. 

Painted areas where gum arabic has played a role can lift easier.  This can be good or bad, depending upon your painting.  Adding it to your paints and then misting a painted area with water and blotting the area can lend a nice texture to say rocks or foliage.  The misting gives the irregular pattern and the gum arabic makes the paint easy to lift.


Watercolor Tip: Correcting Mistakes

It’s inevitable.  At some point you may make a mistake, color dripped where you didn’t want it to go, you change your mind on the color.  Watercolor, they say, is an unforgiving medium, true, but not all mistakes are irreversible.  You’ll find that as you become more experienced with painting, you won’t panic as much when something happens.  You’ll have the tools to deal with it, use it to your advantage, or be able to scrap the painting.  Remember you can always use that other side for testing colors.

Let’s say you were painting that barn and a bit of barn color went into the field.  There are a few things you can do.  The sooner you act though, the better.  You want to act before the color has completely dried and worked into the paper.  I keep a small, cheap synthetic bristle brush for just such a task.  You want to wet the brush and gently scrub.  You’ll also want to keep a paper towel handy to blot the water and to prevent from disturbing nearby color.  For small areas, I’ve also found the Incredible Nib to be a good tool.  Go very gently though–you don’t want to damage the paper.  Let it dry thoroughly before attempting to rework it.  This is where your choice of paper is important.  Some papers, like Lanaquarelle, won’t handle scrubbing very well.

Other techniques can also be used.  I’ve found that masking an area will lift up some color.  Probably not the neatest of solutions, but one I have used.  An exacto knife works well for little dots of misplaced color.  If the area is small, a bit of gouache will also work.  I say small because gouache will alter the appearance of the paper and unless you’re planning on that bit of added texture, it may be too obvious.  The gouache I use is Holbein Acryla gouache, titanium white.  This shade is the most opaque.  The acryla gouache is permanent.  This is important if I’m going to go over the area.  Gouache of the non-permanent type seems to come up too easily.

So, it’s not a lost cause.  You can save a painting and when someone asks, you can say "I meant to do that."