Well I am still fighting frustration and my low skill level as I struggle to produce a decent bamboo painting. So I decided to critique my most recent attempt. I always learn from my mistakes so I hope you will also find this helpful. To start here is the painting:
Idea: I wanted to paint a simple composition with a large, old stalk of bamboo and young shots growing up around it. I like the way the new leaves point upwards.
Issue 1 – When I paint I am working on a double size practice paper but I practice on a single size practice paper so I may use larger brushes when I start to paint. I had not practiced with the larger brush that I used for the largest stalk of bamboo. The larger brush holds more fluid so it diluted my ink and I didn’t get the deep color to the side of the stalk. So no depth or modeling.
Issue 2: The composition was too simple for such a large sheet of paper so I let the painting dry over night and added two more small stalks of bamboo – they are not well painted because I had trouble seeing as I did overpainting.
Issue 3: Still having real trouble with ink color and brush loading. Never get it dark enough so go back and overpaint – real no-no.
Issue 4: I forget that if ink has not dried it will bleed into the lower layer producing blurry, smudgy looking areas. I always think its dry but its not.
Issue 5: Haven’t found the right brush or technique yet to paint the tiny twigs – get thick and thin spots and blurring.
Someone asked about the chop I used on the last painting. For Christmas 2010 I asked for a chop as my gift. My husband found that you can get custom, personalized chops through the National Geographic catalog. They work with a Chinese expert to match your name as closely as possible. The chop itself is beautiful, made from jade and is about 1″ square and 3″ long. I love it and have thought about also using it as part of my signature on my watercolors!