DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt


Back in Gray

Leaning Ahead, 2012, by Fred Hatt

For any artist, I think, regularity of work is essential.  For an artist like me who does other work to make a living, it can be very difficult to keep the creative practice vital and central.  I hold my life drawing practice as a constant.  Sometimes in my life I’m working on special creative projects, and sometimes I’m not.  Sometimes I’m spending huge amounts of time doing jobs to pay the bills, or dealing with family responsibilities, or whatever.  No matter what, I get to my life drawing sessions faithfully.  There are two three-hour classes I attend nearly every week, one a long pose class and another one featuring shorter poses.  I may miss the occasional session due to work schedule, travel, or other unavoidable disruptions, but I will not miss a session because I’m tired or not in the mood or not feeling confident.  The structure of the session solves all my potential “blocks”.  The model gives me a focus that takes me out of my own head.  The model is an active stimulus to which I can respond, without having to come up with any ideas.  The timed poses give me a sense of urgency – there is never quite enough time, so I have to get right into it, no dithering.  The critical eye can only be indulged fleetingly – it can’t be allowed to take over from the direct action of drawing.

I don’t allow the practice to become just a hobby, doing the same things over and over again because they please me.  It must be a constant struggle, a quest to see more, understand more, capture more.  There is no end to the study.  There is always something new I can understand about the structure or the expressiveness of the body, something new I can learn about light or about how eye and mind interact, some new bit of technique or material I can explore, some new challenge of spontaneity or carefulness that I can undertake as I draw.

Last year I had begun to feel that I was getting a bit too comfortable in my technique of drawing with aquarelle crayons on gray or black paper, and I decided to start working with watercolors at my life drawing sessions.  If you have been following Drawing Life over the last several months you’ve seen my struggles with the unforgiving medium.  In recent weeks I’ve been trying different papers, including gray paper, and returning sometimes to crayons or using the crayons in conjunction with the paints.  In this post I’ll share some of that work.  All of these pieces were made in the past month.  If you’re not a painter the discussion may be a bit technical, so feel free to just enjoy the pictures.

Knee L, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The wet brush makes more expressive strokes than dry media.  In part this is because it is less controllable, or to be more precise it is controlled more by physics and less by the artist’s hand.  An oil painter may use as much underdrawing and overpainting as necessary to master the painted image, but watercolors are transparent, so all the work shows through.  The unruly nature of the brush is understood in East Asian calligraphy as a virtue.  To make a spontaneous stroke that conveys energy, movement and feeling, using a big floppy wet brush, is a taoist exercise par excellence – going with the flow, dancing on the wind, trusting the chaos of nature to impart its ineffable beauty to your human gesture.

Iridescence of Skin, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The sketches above and below are done with the aquarelle crayons I’ve used for so much of my work over the years.  The crayons have several special qualities.  They can easily be used either sideways, to smear out areas of color, or on point, to make lines.  Hues can be blended by layering on the paper, without mixing and muddying the pigments, perfect for an additive approach to color.  On dark paper, the lighter crayons have a special luminosity, effectively rendering subtle effects of light.  I like to draw by looking at light before anything else, and usually this means drawing highlights before shadows and edges of things – an approach that is impossible when using transparent paints on a white ground.

Touch of Light, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Recently I’ve been using white gouache (opaque watercolor) combined with transparent colors on gray paper, trying for those glowing highlights.  At this point I’m not good enough with the paint to get anything like the color complexity I can get with the crayons.  The crayon drawing above and the gouache/watercolor sketch below are both twenty-minute studies.  With paint, it takes longer to get the light and dark, so there’s less time for color, and since the white gouache is the only paint lighter than the gray background, color in the highlights is a two-stage process, not a one-stage process as with the crayons.

Torso, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The long-pose class gives a longer time to work at subtleties of color and tone.  It’s a three-hour class, and when the warm-up poses and the breaks are subtracted, there’s about two solid hours of studying a single pose.

Akimbo, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The long pose studies above and below are painted in watercolor on white bristol vellum, with some white gouache used for highlight detailing and corrections.  The white gouache never cleanly covers anything.  Any color that is underneath bleeds into it, and it can quickly become dull and dirty-looking.  I’m still trying to use my additive color approach, not mixing paints on the palette, but using straight colors in proximity to each other, so they mix in the eye to give the impression of smooth transitions.  It’s very hard to get this to work as well as it does with the crayons.  The crayons can be applied lightly on the side, introducing a subtle tone to an area.  My best approximation of that with the paint is to use a fan brush with a rather dry load of paint to put down some thin subtle lines of color.  Wherever the white paper shows through, though, it dominates, as it is obviously the brightest and strongest color of them all.

Inward Look, 2012, by Fred Hatt

I finally found a kind of gray paper that takes the watercolor and gouache paints well, without too much friction and without sucking all the water out of the brush or puckering at the wetness.  As you can see in the long-pose example below, this allows me to use white as a highlight, so I can work with paint both lighter and darker than the ground, but it doesn’t do much to make the color mixing easier.  In the background of this one, I’ve used crayons on edge to get soft area coloration, but the colors in the figure are all paint.

Reader of Proust, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Below is a crayon drawing on black paper, 20-minute pose.  Working on black paper offers its own special challenges – as with white paper, I can only go in one direction with the values.  But I think in twenty minutes with crayons I’ve been able to get as much color variance as I was able to do in six times the time in those long pose studies with paint.

Side and Back, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The next three pictures are all 20-minute foreshortened reclining poses.  The first one is done with watercolor and gouache, on a medium gray paper that works well with the crayons.  With the paint, it’s resistant.  The paint doesn’t flow smoothly on this paper, and you may be able to see the scratchy quality of the brushstrokes.  But the middle gray is perfect for bringing out the bold contrast between the black and white paint, and the vividness of the colors against the neutral ground.

Head End Reclining Figure, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Below is a similar pose, painted on the lighter gray paper that handles the wet media more smoothly.  Here I was able to abstract the strokes in a more deliberate way, especially in the face.

Dune, 2012, by Fred Hatt

I used the same paper for the one below.  I used a red crayon to sketch out the figure, then used white gouache and black watercolor to render highlights, edges, and shadows in a relatively realistic style.  The odd angle nevertheless gives this figure a mildly cubist aspect.

Sleeping Weightlifter, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Portraits are the most challenging mode of all, and I’ll conclude this post with four paintings of faces.  The first one is a quick watercolor sketch on bristol vellum, with rough, brushy color.

Knee Kiss, 2012, by Fred Hatt

This one’s on the brush-resistant medium gray paper.  I love the way the gouache-painted highlights look on this darker ground.  The paint becomes light itself.

Heavenward, 2012, by Fred Hatt

These last two are both painted on the lighter gray paper (though the photographs make the background color look quite different.  It’s a little too warm in the first one and definitely too cool in the second one).  I have to say I’ve always loved working on gray paper.  I can paint the highlights and the shadows, and let the paper provide the tones in between.

Mike in Profile, 2012, by Fred Hatt

The neutrality of the gray ground also has the effect of calming the mind.  For the purposes of drawing, it is a perfect nothingness.  White shines all over and all you can do is try to knock it down a bit.  Black always stays in the background, making anything that  is lighter than itself glow, but its main quality is to suck up and extinguish as much light as it can.  Gray is the synthesis of black and white.  It is serene and unassertive.  It glows, but gently.  It absorbs, but just a bit.  Gray contains all the colors, dark and light, somber and wild, in balance.  Put a red next to it, and you will see the coolness of the gray.  Put a blue next to it, and evoke gray’s warmth.  Gray possesses the underappreciated magic of moderation!

Alley, 2012, 2012, by Fred Hatt

Sizes of the works shown in this post are as follows:

On white paper:  19″ x 24″ (48.3 x 61 cm)

On black paper:  27.5″ x 19.75″ (50 x 70 cm)

On medium gray paper:  18.5″ x 24.5″ (47 x 62 cm)

On light gray paper:  18″ x 24″ (46 x 60 cm)


Wax and Water

Weathermap, 2011, watercolor on paper, 38" x 34", by Fred Hatt

A few months ago, I made a change in my regular life drawing practice.  My primary drawing medium for over fifteen years had been Caran d’Ache Neocolor II aquarelle crayons.  Aquarelle means watercolor, and the pigments laid down by these crayons can be thinned or blended with water, but I always used them as a dry medium.  Caran d’Ache crayons are similar in size and feel to the familiar Crayola crayons, but they have a much higher pigment density, so they just glow on a background of black or gray paper. One day I decided to change over to a very different medium, to give myself new challenges.  I feel it’s important to keep any creative practice expansive by changing things up in small ways constantly, and in big ways occasionally.  So when I went to the life drawing sessions I began leaving my crayon box at home and bringing instead my watercolor paints and brushes.

There’s a repetition factor in the life drawing practice anyway, as you’ll often see the same models in similar poses to ones you’ve drawn before, and in such a case it’s always more interesting if you can come up with a slightly different approach than the one you used the last time.  Working with a very different medium, one you haven’t yet mastered, is certainly enough of a change to keep it fresh.  I’ve begun to amass a collection of similar pieces in the two media, and in this post I’ll be sharing pairs of images.  Each one of these pairs is of the same model, in similar poses, drawn at similar sizes and over roughly the same amount of working time, but one of each pair is a watercolor painting while the other is a crayon drawing.

The painting at the top of this post and the crayon drawing just below are both studies of model, actor and artist Alley, rendered in free, expressive strokes in their respective media.  I’ve always liked the linear aspect of drawing, as the movement of the line captures a feeling of energy.  Interestingly, in comparing these two, the painting has more linear energy than the drawing does, but the crayons on a black ground give more of an impression of light.

Rotation, 2006, aquarelle crayon on paper, 30" x 30", by Fred Hatt

Next, here are two larger-than-life-size heads of Michael, the first a crayon drawing and the second a watercolor painting.

Michael W., 2009, aquarelle crayon on paper, 28" x 20", by Fred Hatt

Michael W, 2011, watercolor on paper, 19" x 24", by Fred Hatt

Initially the crayon drawing may appear more linear, but a closer inspection shows that both versions are built up from linear strokes following the contours of the face.  My painting style is becoming quite similar to my drawing style.  The biggest difference is that the crayon drawings start with a dark surface and add light, while the paintings start from white paper and build shadows.  The crayon drawings are an additive process, like modeling a sculpture from clay, while the watercolor paintings are a subtractive process, like carving a sculpture from a block of stone or wood.

Details of two portraits of Michael W, 2009 crayon (left) and 2011 watercolor (right)

Here are two 20-minute sketches of Lilli’s back.  Notice how free is the movement of the hand in the lighter colors of the crayon drawing.  I can add higher-value colors little by little in this scribbly fashion until it’s light enough.

Sidesit, 2009, aquarelle crayon on paper, 20" x 28", by Fred Hatt

In watercolor painting, the white paper is dominant and blinding, but a single wrong touch can destroy it.  The sculptural analogy holds here – in watercolor painting, as in stone carving, a misplaced stroke can ruin it all.  The hand must be confident and sure.

Seated Contrapposto, 2011, watercolor on paper, 15" x 20", by Fred Hatt

These two 20-minute portrait sketches of Mike (not the same Mike as in the third and fourth pictures in this post) show me trying to go against the tendencies of the media mentioned in the notes on the Lilli back sketches.  In the crayon drawing I’m trying to give the lines great clarity and confidence.

Sketcher and Poser, 2011, aquarelle crayon on paper, 20" x 25", by Fred Hatt

In the watercolor painting below I’m trying to be as loose and sketchy as the cloudiest crayon drawing.  This is mostly painted with a fan brush or comb brush, the paint kept fairly dry.

Michael H, 2011, watercolor on paper, 19" x 24", by Fred Hatt

I’ll conclude with another pair of more developed drawings of Lilli, in both of which she closes her eyes.  (Lest this pairing give the wrong impression, I assure you that Lilli is always alert and focused as a model, eyes closed or not!)  Both of these pieces are worked in many layers, to approach a realistic impression of color and solidity.  A closer look at either one, though, will show the construction of cross contour lines, with colors mixed on the paper, not on the palette.

Reverie, 2008, aquarelle crayon on paper, 28" x 20", by Fred Hatt

Standing, Eyes Closed, 2011, watercolor on paper, 19" x 24", by Fred Hatt

Readers, I invite you to comment on these pairs – what strikes you about the difference between a crayon drawing and a watercolor painting of the same subject?


Painting as Drawing

Persona, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I am by my essential nature more drawer than painter.  In taking on painting as a challenge, I have approached it as a form of drawing.  I seek spontaneity, linear expressiveness and energy, and a direct connection between perception and mark-making.  I’m not particularly concerned with sophisticated composition or illusionistic realism.  In drawing, perceptions are traced as lines, and drawn figures remain transparent, because they’re not all filled in.  This allows multiple images to coexist, as they often do in the mind, or as they do in the painting above.  Even when a drawing or painting isn’t explicitly layered in this way, I like it to have that kind of openness.

In quick sketches, I use the brush in much the same way as I use a pencil or pen, freely tracing the contours.  The brush is even more sensitive to the motions of the hand, and indicates shadowed areas more efficiently than the pencil can.

Claudia Three Poses, 2011, by Fred Hatt

To draw with the brush is to dance the contours of your subject.

Ridge, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I always start with this kind of rhythmic following of the movement of the figure.  The body is an expression of vitality, and even in stillness it expresses motion and projects energy with its curves and angles.

Robyn Poses, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In this post I share a selection of recent watercolor paintings of the figure, both raw and essential quick sketches and longer, more layered studies like the portrait below.  In painting, as in drawing, I try to let the strokes follow the three-dimensional form of the subject.

Claudia, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I’m using transparent watercolors, but I’ve also sometimes introduced white gouache (opaque watercolor).  In drawing, I usually preferred to use gray or black paper because I could draw highlights.  Watercolor needs a white paper base, but the white gouache lets me paint highlights.

Crouch, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The simplest figures convey emotion very directly.

Mendicant, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When I have more time, I give more attention to the subtleties of color and form and light, and the relation of the subject to its setting.

Knee Clasp, 2011, by Fred Hatt

That kind of development gives solidity to the image.  Maintaining transparency preserves the potential of movement.

Expand, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In the developed drawings, I’m working on a painting technique that is similar to my scribbly, optical color mixing style of drawing.  I use fan brushes and comb brushes to sketch with cross-contour lines.

Male, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Does developing the color and solidity actually obscure some of the emotional expressiveness?  Or are the quick sketches more expressive just because the shorter time allows the model to hold a more extreme position?

Anguish, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In a medium-length pose, like the two 20-minute drawings below, I combine a contour-based linear sketch with a relatively simple development of color and solidity.

Angle of Repose, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Chin on Palm, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Some artists don’t like quick poses because the limited time isn’t enough to go through the multi-stage process of creating an illusion of reality.  I like quick poses because models can explore everything the human body can do.  The range of poses that can be held for a minute or two is vastly larger than the range of poses that can be held for hours.  That fact was enough to motivate me to learn to draw fast!

Headstand, 2011, by Fred Hatt

There’s something inherently contradictory about painting or drawing.  I’m trying to be as loose and expressive as possible, and at the same time, as accurate as possible.

Angled Torso, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The lines need to carry the rhythm.  Color is more expressive the more approximate it is!  More layers make it more realistic, but sometimes fewer layers is more interesting.

Knees and Elbows, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here’s one way of starting:  blobs (yellow), followed by hard contours (blue).

Stepping, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Everything is built out of gestures.

Omega, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In a more developed portrait, layers of color tendencies approximate perceptual colors.  Every stroke is made as though the brush is touching the body.

Traveler Returned, 2011, by Fred Hatt

When the brush touches the paper, it must be fully charged with the energy of life.

Black Hair, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The original watercolor paintings pictured in this post range in size from 11″ x 14″ (28 x 35.5 cm) to 18″ x 24″ (45.75 x 61 cm).


Liquid and Linear

Seated Contrapposto, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Several weeks ago I posted about beginning to experiment with watercolor painting in the life drawing sessions I attend as a regular practice.  Now I have a batch of new watercolor paintings to share.  I’ll write about my experiences with the new (to me) medium, interspersing illustrations more or less randomly.

Yisroel Quick Poses 2, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The classic watercolor approach to the figure is to focus on clear areas of light and dark, infusing color into the shadows using wet-on-wet techniques to achieve luminous softness.  I don’t know of anyone that does that style better than my friend Jacqui Morgan.  I love the way she achieves the look of light reflecting into the shadow areas – click the link on Jacqui’s name to see several examples of what I’m talking about.  But I’m more interested in finding my own style than in imitating something someone else has already mastered.

Think Back, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Over the seventeen years I’ve been attending life drawing sessions, I’ve drawn with pencils, pens, pastels, conté crayons, graphite blocks, markers, and ink and brush.  The medium I really developed was aquarelle crayons.  (Aquarelle is the French word for watercolor, so these crayons contain watercolor pigments and are water-blendable.)  I generally worked on gray or black paper, so I focused primarily on drawing the highlights, letting the ground of the paper represent the shadows.  Watercolor painting essentially demands an opposite approach!

Chin on Knee, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Through the use of dry media I discovered the expressive power of the linear stroke.  These gestural marks are the traces of movement, the movement of my hands as well as the movement of my perception.  I’ve found that the scribbly thicket of lines communicates my way of seeing my subjects as patterns of energy.  The strokes also capture a particular quality of the moment, a mood that may be tranquil, dynamic, sensual, or whatever.  The lines also follow the three-dimensionality of the form, and convey its roundness even in the absence of chiaroscuro lighting.  The expressive line technique should work well with the brush.

Squat, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Dry media such as the aquarelle crayons cannot be mixed on a palette, but must be combined directly on the paper.  Essentially, the pigments remain separate but are close enough together that they blend in the eye.  It should be possible to do that in paint, too, though so far I haven’t yet figured out how to get the highly saturated watercolor hues to blend into really convincing realistic colors.

James, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Over the years I have done a lot of drawing with ink and a brush, and I had certainly noticed that brushstrokes are more expressive than the strokes of a pencil or crayon.  Crayons are simple – relatively easy to control, dumb, but direct.  I barely think about them when I’m using them.  The relationship of brush to paper and brush to liquid is complex, with small variations in pressure, angle, and wetness making a huge difference in the quality of the marks.  I find I must place more of my mental awareness in the brush itself, because the subtleties of its caress are so magnified on the paper.

Seize, 2011, by Fred Hatt

As you can see, I’ve been trying to adapt my scribbly linear style to watercolor painting.  I still consider these paintings a beginner’s attempts in this direction.  It’s exciting for me to challenge myself with an unfamiliar medium, and interesting to see how techniques with which I’d achieved a certain facility become crude or experimental when transposed to watercolors.

Lumbar Hands, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In sketching quick two-minute poses with watercolor, the technique of focusing on the light/dark divisions works well, and actually seems to capture the quality of the pose more efficiently than the contour-based approach I tend to use when drawing with pencils or pens.

James Qucik Poses 1, 2011, by Fred Hatt

James Quick Poses 2, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Watercolor paints are transparent.  Highlights are achieved by leaving the paper unpainted, and light values of colors by using very thin washes of color, or, in my linear style, thin meshes of colored lines with a lot of white in between.  For me, this has been the most challenging aspect of the medium.  Occasionally I’ve cheated by using white aquarelle crayons to open up highlights or to “erase” errors or washes that become too dark.

Gathered, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I’ve also sometimes used light-colored crayons to make a rough sketch on the paper before beginning to apply paint.  This allows me to use my accustomed loose-handed way of establishing overall proportions and spatial relationships before laying down paint that may be difficult or impossible to correct.

Upward Recline, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Sometimes a very simple approach is most effective.  I think I have a tendency to overwork things.  Watercolor seems to shine with a minimalist style.

Bow & Kneel, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The portrait below may be the closest I’ve gotten to duplicating my crayon style in paint.

Donna, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The colors of the watercolor paintings look a bit more intense in these photos than they do in the originals.  Even photographing these requires a different approach than photographing the crayon drawings!  But since I switched from cheap watercolors to higher-end paints, the colors are highly saturated.  I think I need to figure out how to neutralize them.

Torso on Folded Legs, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Sometimes I’ve tried a more expressionistic approach to both the colors and the strokes.  That seems to work to give a feeling for emotion and character.

Puppet Maker, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Melancholy, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The model for the drawing above is Claudia, the Museworthy blogger.  She’s got a post coming soon that features artwork by the many talented artists that know her through her blog or through her work as a model.  I’ll have a piece in it, and I’ll add a link here as soon as it’s up.  I’ll close this post with another watercolor of Claudia.

Claudia, 2011, by Fred Hatt

All the paintings in this post are watercolor on paper, either 15″ x 20″ (38 x 51 cm) or 11″ x 14″ (28 x 36 cm).


A Toe in the Water

Sketch with watercolors and brush, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I’ve been doing art sessions with a good friend’s seven year old daughter.  She wanted to learn about painting and I thought pan watercolors would be a good medium to start with – vivid colors, cheap, and not too messy.  Sharing her beginner’s joy with watercolors inspired me to try working with pan watercolors in the life drawing sessions I attend regularly, and in this post I’ll share some of the results from my first two weeks of struggling with this medium, which I have never before attempted to master.

Many of my readers are art students, so this blog is my platform to be a teacher.  I supervise an uninstructed weekly life drawing session at Spring Studio in New York.  A lot of older, experienced artists attend the session regularly.  Many of them have done life drawing or painting practice for decades.  I’ve noticed that while nearly all of them have a pretty good style and technique, most long ago settled into a comfortable rut.  They stopped when they got good, kept doing what worked for them, and haven’t learned anything new in a long time.  There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but the magic of art as a practice is that it is possible to keep it growing and expanding for a lifetime, and they’re missing out on that.

In this blog I always urge pushing the envelope, going out of your comfort zone, being willing to fail.  I often try different drawing materials and techniques for quick drawings, work on varying scale, and experiment in various ways.  But in my developed drawings I too could be accused of working the comfortable rut.  I developed my technique of drawing with aquarelle crayons on gray or black paper a long time ago.  It’s a great way of working, perfectly suited to my strengths and tendencies, and difficult for other people to copy.  I can easily vary the technique to make it more impressionistic or expressionistic or stylized or classical.  I’ve made the medium my own.

But once you’ve mastered something it may be time to move on to something that remains a challenge, to get back to the Zen ideal of “beginner’s mind”.  Watercolor struck me as an ideal challenge, because it goes against almost everything I love about the crayon technique.

With the crayons, I start with a dark ground and build from the highlights first.  With watercolors, the paper is white and paint can only make it darker.  With crayons, my focus is bold, linear, gestural.  Watercolors are soft by nature, and intensity is only achieved by incremental washing.  With crayons, I use additive, optical mixing of colors.  With watercolors, colors blend subtractively.  My style of drawing is to dive in spontaneously and then to work towards correcting mistakes in subsequent layers.  Watercolors are transparent, making it nearly impossible to correct things by going over them.

Companheiros, 2011, by Fred Hatt

In quick drawings, one minute to five minutes, I’m still drawing with my flowy linear style.  The watercolor brush is far more responsive to touch than a pencil or pen.  Speed and pressure affect line thickness, but density also varies according to the ratio of water and pigment in the brush, and whether the brush dashes quickly or lingers as it moves.

Stepping Forward, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here are two beautifully expressive quick poses from my great friend Claudia, the Museworthy blogger.

Onde, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Compared to a pen, pencil, or crayon, the brush is hard to control.  There’s almost no friction – it’s like walking on wet ice.

Réveil, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Here are some ten and twenty minute watercolor sketches from the sessions at Brooklyn’s Figureworks Gallery, with the wonderfully idiosyncratic models Taylor and Jillian.

Lying on Side, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I’m still more or less drawing with the brush.  Some watercolor painters use watercolor-specific techniques like letting the paint infuse into pre-wetted paper.  So far, I’m using regular inexpensive sketch paper and painting “wet on dry”.

Supplicant, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Maybe with tube watercolors you can get deep colors right out of the tube.  With these pan watercolors every color goes on pretty thin, and then gets even lighter as it dries.  You have to paint multiple layers to get any density.  This may be a good thing, since there’s no erasing.

Rayon Vert, 2011, by Fred Hatt

The dryer I can keep the brush, the more controllable the line is.  By combining wet and dry application I can use some of my pencil drawing techniques but also blended shading.

Tea Drinker, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Little touches of color can suggest area color without filling it in.

Vanquished, 2011, by Fred Hatt

On the one below, I lightly sketched in the figure with crayons, then used watercolor for the shading and colors.  The foreshortening of the right leg at the bottom of the page is a bit awkward here, but the torso is wonderfully present.

Rêverie, 2011, by Fred Hatt

Just this week I tried for the first time using watercolors for a long pose at the three-hour session I supervise at Spring Studio on Monday mornings.  I allowed myself to use crayons for the initial rough sketch, and to sharpen highlights and shadows at the end of the session, but besides those small touches, this is all watercolor.

Športnik, 2011, by Fred Hatt

I was getting a little too adept at crayon drawing.  Working with watercolors, I’m struggling again, and it feels good.  I think I’ll keep working with this medium for a while, so expect to see more here, perhaps mixed in with crayon drawings.

All the pieces in this post are 18″ x 24″, pan watercolors (sometimes with aquarelle crayon) on paper.

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