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About Traditional Art / Hobbyist Member William AxtellMale/United Kingdom Group :iconmarvel-fans: marvel-fans
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Born to be a Winner by Riberry
by Riberry

Well, I don't know much about Pokemon but I do like this a lot :D ! In terms of composition, the piece demonstrates some skill, with the...

The Saga Begins by Balakov
by Balakov

Just. Wow. This is astonishing. O.K. then, let's start with the idea. It's a brilliant conceit, I just love the idea of a Stormtrooper ...

DAO commis: Ferelden's hero is celebrating victory by PiraWTH
by PiraWTH

Wow, there is a lot of life going on here - I love this picture! Well, first off the drawing and colouring standard is pretty good. The...

Oh, my stars and garters, it's the Beast! by MiguelAlt

This is terrific! The pose is traditional, being a "Determined Superhero Squat of Power" but is kept fresh with subtle variation expert...

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Just a quick announcement to say that my Etsy store is now closed :) !
Hi guys, just a quick message to say that my new Journalism course is wonderful but incredibly intense! This sadly means I have had no time to even thing of blogging so I'm sorry to say there is no blog this week :( .
Hello there :wave: ! Well, I'm going to start this week with an announcement - I'm now officially in Brighton for a course in journalism! This is incredibly exciting for me but does, unfortunately, mean that I'm not going to be able to upload any good work to DA as I am shorn of a scanner :iconnoeswooplz: ! Nevertheless, I'm keeping up with the blog and will, of course, be working on stuff (in between my busy work schedule) which I will get up as soon as I can.

So, this week I want to talk paper stretching. I've just had a massive battle with it and I want to share with you my hard-won lessons.

First, why stretch the paper? Well, watercolour paper comes in three basic types; rough, cold pressed (smooth) and hot pressed (super-smooth). It also comes in a variety of thicknesses. It's great stuff as it is designed to take really wet washes without huge bleed and, as long as it's acid-free, will last a long, long time. HOWEVER, like all paper it WILL BUCKLE when wet. This is why it must be stretched before painting, especially if you like using wet, sloppy washes. Now, many sites will tell you to soak it in a tub for a set period of time depending upon the thickness of the paper - maybe 2-3 minutes for 90lbs, 5 for 140lbs/300gsm or 15 for 300lbs. This is great advice and is probably the best method. However, I have a problem with this - I have nowhere to do it!!! Of course, I could use the sink but then I hit another problem - it is imperative to keep detergents off the paper. Therefore, soaking it in a sink full of soap residue is a bad idea. So I used a wet sponge. Laying the paper on my board, I wet it both sides with a clean sponge. I really soaked it, trying to the paper to absorb as much water as possible before wiping away any puddles. I left it to get properly soggy, judiciously adding more water from time to time, until the paper was better stiff and floppy. Apparently, the perfect state is when you can bend a corner of the paper and it slowly lifts back to its original position. It neither stays bent nor springs back. Basically, if it springs back it means that the paper is still too dry while if it is completely floppy then you've probably washed all the size out of it, rendering it useless for controlled watercolours.

Once you've achieved this perfect state, the next thing you need to do is stretch it on the board. Remember, the point of stretching is to avoid your paper buckling and this is achieved by getting the paper to absorb far more water than you will apply during the painting. The more water you add, the more the paper expands and, now its wet, you want to hold it at this expanded point. This is so that any water you add with the paint will fit easily within the paper without forcing to expand still further. So, you need to attach it to a board. There are several ways of doing this. You can buy special stretching boards to pull the paper tight or you can take a regular board (more on this in a future article!) and hold the paper down with tacks, staples, clamps or tape. Personally, I favour tape as the other methods risk the paper tearing as it dries and  tries to contract. The tape you need for this is gum tape, also knows as butchers tape. I tried to used masking tape and, trust me, its useless. Gum tape works by having a water-activated glue on the back. You need to cut strips of this tape, four strips to hold the paper down on all sides. Put the paper on the board and wipe away the excess moisture with your sponge. Then, wet the tape with a different sponge or piece of towel - you do not want to get glue on the sponge you wipe all over your lovely paper as this will ruin the surface! Now, tape the paper down tightly to the board as smoothly as possible. Leave to dry, face up, for a good long while, ideally overnight. Do not place the board on a slant as all the water will run to the bottom and cause an uneven stretch. In the morning, the paper should be nice and stretched - completely smooth and yielding a nice, husky rattle if you rap your fingers lightly on the surface! So there it is, paper stretching!

However, I must add a caveat. As I stretched my paper, the water warped my board! The paper's still good, great even, but my board clearly will not take another wetting. I am currently researching the most appropriate material for a board and will let you know as soon as I've found one - see you next week Art Elves :la: !

DEVIATION OF THE WEEK #39!


There could only be one winner this week in my mind - check out this truly exceptional Captain America fanart by :icondleoblack: !Captain America by dleoblack
Well hello there art-elves :wave: ! This week I have very exciting news - I rebooted my watercolour palette to maximus awesome level!!! Basically, I feel that I've reached a stage where I don't want to be held back by my tools so I've invested in new paints. I've put a lot of thought into which pigments to get, partly for the sake of cost but mostly because I really like the limited palette effect. I did my last painting, for instance, with just four paints - Cad Yellow Hue, Cad Red Hue, Ultramarine and Permanent Rose and I really loved how everything in the painting seemed to gel so well together. Of course, this was partly through the elimination of certain colour groups and I don't intend to use the whole of my palette each painting. However, neither do I want to get stuck because I don't have the right paint to cover the colour group I want in a sufficiently high chroma. Therefore, I came up with a basic, six-paint palette with a few extras and, this week, I thought that I would discuss my choices with you. Here's the palette.
Untitled by TheStrategos

My main paints are the wheel to the right. As you can see, I have broadly created an evenly spaced colour wheel based on a yellow, magenta, blue subtractive colour wheel. I had initially planned to use a split primary colour wheel, with two reds, two blues and two yellow, one cool and one warm of each. However, upon researching the subject I realised that the notion of primaries is a little bogus. It was better to space my paints evenly across the area of the wheel. The reason for this is thus. Imagine the colour wheel, a circle of six colours gradating into one another. Imagine that the outer rim is bright and highly saturated, image the centre is a very dark hue, pitch black. Now image that each pigment you buy sits somewhere upon this wheel, it's place determined not only by hue, it's "colour" but also where it sits between the brightest colours on the rim and the black of the centre. For instance, Burnt Umber is an orangey hue, sat very close to the centre - it has a very dark value. Now imagine mixing two colours. Although it doesn't work out quite as simply as this in reality, if you place two colours on the wheel and draw a line between them, this shows the scale of colours that can be achieved through mixing varying proportions of them. Now, if you mix a greeny yellow and a greeny blue, of course you will get a brighter (the line between the two points will sit closer to the rim of the wheel) green than if you mix a redy yellow and a purlplish blue. HOWEVER, the effect is still not a bright as if you had just taken a top-whack, high chroma green in the first place and gently altered it with either yellow or blue. So, that is why I built this fairly even colour wheel. Of course, pigments being pigments, and not ideal wonder-colours, each has varying properties which bend the ideal, theoretical six-colour palette out of shape. Some pigments are fugitive, others are either transparent or opaque, some tint better, some are toxic and, often, no perfect colour exists. Even today, printers don't have perfect primaries in their yellow, cyan, magenta cartridges. So, let's have a look at my choices (I add the colour code to each paint as names can vary between manufacturers - always check before buying is possible!):

Permanent Rose (PV19). Just a stunning colour, mixing wonderful purples and is an amazingly pure pink on its own!
French Ultramarine (PB29). Wouldn't be without this, a classic pigments well deserving of its place on the palette.
Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) (PB15:3). Lovelly, greeny, high staining blue. Also known as Monastral Blue or Winsor Blue.
Phthalo Green (PG7). Much the same as Pthalo Blue, a great, high chroma colour with a blue bent. Also known as Winsor Green.
Pyrrole Red (PR254). A jolly good, strong, permantent red I chose instead of Cadmium Red as the latter is slightly toxic, expensive, opaque (which did not suit my style) and likely to become illegal in the EU quite soon due to the environmental impact of Cadmium). Also known as Winsor Red.
Benzimidazolone Yellow (PY154) This just won out over Hansa Yellow for me due to the high praise it received on the Handprint website. A good yellow I chose over Cadmium Yellow for the same reasons as I chose Pyrrole Red over Cadmium Red. Also known as Winsor Yellow.

Now, you may noticed I have some other paints on my palette so let me briefly explain. The Paynes Gray is a bit of an accident but, as I had previously bought it, I thought it might prove useful in the future for achieving EXTREMELY dark values. I also have White Gouche, which is better than Chinese White watercolour for adding highlights if the leave the paper black method hasn't worked out so great. And I have some earth colours. The Raw Sienne, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Yellow Ochre are student grade hangovers from my old palette. As I have not replaced the earth colours with artist grade I thought it foolish to get rid of them - although I'm keen on my six-colour palette at the moment, who knows where the muse will lead me? Also, if you can cheap out anywhere, it is with the earth colours as the coursers texture and lower chroma of the pigments means that artist grade is not quite so crucial for best results. However, there was one earth I did upgrade to artist quality - Burnt Umber. Put simply, I love it. Not only do I adore the juxtaposition of Burnt Umber and Phthalo Blue but mix the two together, or mix Burnt Umber with Ultramarine, and you have a great chromatic black - delicious! I got pure PBr7 but some brands offer mixes. However, I wanted to keep my pigments as pure as possible so I went for this beautiful tube from Daler-Rowney!

Well, that's my palette. I hope you found these ramblings useful :D !

DEVIATION OF THE WEEK #38!


Which this week comes from :icontessa4244: :D !
I don't think I have enough tuna.... by Tessa4244
Yo, I've just created a facebook page for my art :D ! Please check me out and give me a like if you have the time, I like back ;) ! www.facebook.com/pages/Strateg…
Hi guys, just a quick message to say that my new Journalism course is wonderful but incredibly intense! This sadly means I have had no time to even thing of blogging so I'm sorry to say there is no blog this week :( .

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TheStrategos's Profile Picture
TheStrategos
William Axtell
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
United Kingdom
Hi! My name's William and I'm a passionate but friendly kinda guy - welcome to my homepage :) !

I am a mad keen history buff and I've tried to channel this love, especially my love of historical design, into crafts and paintings.

For those interested is my day to day, WIPs and the cool stuff I find on the web, here are my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Wanelo accounts - I always follow back!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Strateg…

Twitter: twitter.com/williamaxtell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/StrategosArt…

Wanelo: wanelo.com/strategosart

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:iconaekirk:
aekirk Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Thank you very much for the faves! Kawaii Grin Face Emoji 
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:iconthestrategos:
TheStrategos Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're most welcome :D !
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:iconalwaysdaydream:
alwaysdaydream Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2015   General Artist
Will, you inspired my most recent deviations! I couldn't figure out how to tag you because I'm using the app
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:iconthestrategos:
TheStrategos Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ooh, it's really cool, I DIG :D !!!
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:iconalwaysdaydream:
alwaysdaydream Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015   General Artist
Yaaay! :la:
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:iconmich974:
Mich974 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015   Digital Artist
:icondsfav1plz::icondsfav2plz::icondsfav3plz:  :iconsmile--plz:
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:iconthestrategos:
TheStrategos Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome!
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:iconiamabananaoo:
IAmABananaOo Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015
Thanks for the faves on a bunch of my X-Men Tarot! :w00t:
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:iconthestrategos:
TheStrategos Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome, it was a very cool idea!!!
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:iconflash-of-lingt:
Flash-of-Lingt Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2015
Thank you for the favorite and comment ^^
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