THE WEDNESDAY STUDIO

Watercolor and Pastel Artists at CHAW

Linda Norton uses watercolor and paper strips to create the mystery of a mangrove swamp

Editor’s note: In this blog post, Linda describes her approach in creating her multimedia collage In the Mangrove, currently part of the show “Summer Work” at the CHAW Gallery, 545 7th Street, SE, Washington, DC. 

Linda Norton: In the Mangrove

The southeastern United States is filled with wetlands to explore. I’m particularly fond of the mangrove swamps in Florida. The DeSoto preserve on the west coast is a gem. Wooden walkways allow you to wander through the dense tropical growth without disturbing the ecosystem.

Linda N 3

This was the original photo I took of the mangrove swamp. Because I was interpreting it rather than copying it, I could work randomly at the beginning.

The process for creating In the Mangrove was a somewhat trial-and-error one. I knew what I wanted the result to be—the question was how to get there. First, I painted a watercolor background of blue and green that would represent the sky seen through the mangrove growth.

Linda Norton supplies

These are the supplies I collected for my intended process.

Mi-tients ready to cut

I made random vertical lines with colored pencils on heavy paper used in pastel art. I sprayed the back of the heavy paper as well as the blue and green watercolor with glue.

Linda Norton Glued Reeds

Next, I used my papercutter to cut the heavy pastel paper into thin strips. I positioned the strips across the painted sky background, pressing down on them so the glue would adhere. I waited until the next day to see if the strips were going to stick. Because of high humidity some of them had buckled a bit, so I resecured them with tiny dots of Elmer’s clear glue.

Once the strips of paper were in place to represent the mangrove reeds, I began to work with my watercolor markers. For the water, I drew swirly lines with black and did some detailing at the base of the reeds. I used the ochre marker to make the bottoms of the reeds look wet where they went into the water. I began to darken the water and sky around the reeds to give depth. I then painted the water with standard watercolors and worked back and forth to achieve the darks and lights that I wanted.

The next step was an experiment that didn’t really work. I cut clear polyester film in the contours of several of the swirls, thinking that this shiny film would glisten under the lights, but when I put glass on the painting to be framed, the shininess didn’t show up under the glass. So I took the glass off and painted some white gouache lines on the swirls, to suggest light playing on the water. In the finished piece, below, the pieces of polyester film are still there, you just have to look very closely to see them.

Linda Norton In the Mangrove

In this final version, titled In the Mangrove, I strove to capture the rich, damp mystery of a mangrove swamp. All in all I’m very pleased with the overall result.

 

Linda’s profile is available here: Linda Norton
To see some more of her work, click here: Linda Norton’s Gallery

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2018 by in Artist process, Mixed media and tagged .
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