Playing with Mirrors and Crystals, Seashells and Sea Salt

art by Irina, crystal, old masters, Painting, realism in watercolor, salt, sea salt, sea shell, seashell, step by step, Still Life, technique, Watercolor
Realistic Still Life
When painting this rather classic style still life I used some very old and some modern techniques. 
A buzz about Camera Obscura   or Camera Lucida on how the Old Masters used all available and imaginable tools to achieve realism in their art, including the use of mirrors; all that and a bit curiosity inspired me to make one experiment. 

Usually, I use mirror when I estimate an almost complete artworks of mine. The reflection helps to “abstract” from the subject of countless hours of work and see it with the new eye.

But, yet, I have never painted the way I painted this still life.

It is known that painting crystals is not an easy task, especially looking closely at each sparkling edge that can mislead the artist’s hand.
So, instead of painting from live still life, I used the mirror. From the very beginning, I’ve looked not at an object of my painting but into the mirror. And, I’ve painted the reflection: 

For the background I’ve used a modern technique by applying sea salt into wen-on-wet paint. After the salt dried, it created a beautiful texture that no brush can do:

At the very end I checked the accuracy of values by, again, using mirror’s help: I’ve placed the painting upside-down and looked at the reflection, made a few additions until I was satisfied with the result:  


The Old Masters technique was quite fun to use and really helpful! 

Seashell Collection – A Great Beginning

beach house, bestseller, coral, decor, design, Home Decor, interior, Irina, ocean, pearl, realism in watercolor, sand, sea, sea shell, seashell, Sztukowski, water drops
watercolor art
This decorative collage with seashells, pearls, seaweed, and sea stars was a follow-up on my new collection painted on handmade paper. 
One of my students wanted to learn how to paint realistic water drops. I had a cool idea to teach while painting myself; but, not only plain water drops. As I like to challenge myself, I’ve set up a whole scene with my seashells collection, surrounded with pearls and water drops:

It was fun to paint not from photograph, but live, creating a composition on this lovely handmade paper. 
Here are the four first examples of the outcome. The paper has uneven edges, which makes it look authentically handmade. When scanning the artworks on my computer I placed a rough canvas behind to emphasize the edges of the paper:

realism in watercolor
(click on image or HERE to see the details)
I created the sand-like background using a toothbrush technique, when you load the watercolor on a toothbrush and then brush your finger (carefully!!) across the bristles creating uneven yet very cool texture:
water drops in watercolor
(click on image or HERE to see the details)
I had the sea stars, pearls and shells in my collection. But I had to find the seaweed online to see how to paint it:
Watercolor Realism
(click on image or HERE to see the details)
In this painting (below) it was a real challenge. When I pulled the masking liquid from the paper (where the shell is), the glue of the liquid pulled the first tiny layer of the paper for me… Thanks to handmade product! At first, I thought I’ve ruined my artwork. But when I started painting the seashell itself, the roughness of the paper actually helped to create the cool natural seashell body texture:
(click on image or HERE to see the details)
And that how my Seashell collection started. Huge thanks to my friend who gave me those cute seashells more than 5 years ago.

I’ve also looked at my previous watercolors with seashells (last post is here). And created one more collage with those shells:

painting sea shells
Somebody might say, oh she is crazy about those seashells! And I’d say YES. More than that: I didn’t stop on painting those shells and creating collages. I’ve even got myself more gorgeous shells online: some seashells from Philippines, Mexico and India. So, there are more seashells paintings to come!

I guess I still have that Little Girl inside me that loves the ocean, fresh breeze, while walking on the beach and searching for the shells:
watercolor painting
(click on image or HERE to see the details)
My seashell collection is growing so much now, that I had to create a special gallery on FineArtAmerica, which I called 
 (click HERE to see it)

In Every Piece Of My Art There Is A Piece Of My Heart And A Sparkle Of My Soul