Sunday, August 13, 2017

Summer 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class: Textures in Watercolor

A couple weeks ago we had a fun time in class creating our own watercolor samples of different ways to make textures in our watercolors. I am posting a few of the things we explored but it is better if you do this for yourself so you can see what the real texture looks like, sometimes a photo only says a few words and leave you guessing.


The plastic wrap needs to first be wrinkled up the placed on wet paint. Don't try to smooth it you want all the wrinkles and creases. This will take at least 45 minutes to an hour to dry depending on the weather, setting it near a heat source or outside in the sun will help a bit but it has to dry through the paper and that takes a while so be patient.

Masking Fluid into wet paper, this one is tricky but very useful when doing something like sea foam or clouds. Wet the paper first with clear water then paint the masking into the areas you want to protect and let it dry before painting over it or it could get into your good brush.

Masking fluid on dry paper is the traditional way of using masking fluid. Paint out the areas you want to keep white and let it dry before starting to paint. In both cases let your painting dry completely before removing the masking or you run the risk of tearing your paper.


I had 4 different kinds of salt: table salt, rock salt in a grinder, rock salt and popcorn salt. Each of the different sizes has its own look, table salt works the best but knowing how the other work may come in handy in the future. For best results I found if you wait until the shine has gone of the painted area before you add the salt you will get better results. Too wet and you don't see much, too dry and it doesn't do much. This take practice to fine tune.


The baking soda didn't do much but this was the first time I had used it. May have to try again.

I used regular coffee (decafe, but the doesn't make a difference) and sprinkled the grounds on very wet paper and let it dry. You can get the look of old stained paper.


The wax resist and the scraping are permanent so only do them if you are sure it is what you want to do.

Wax resist acts a lot like masking but it never comes off. Some artists will sign their name with the wax then let the name develop with each glaze or color. this can be good for breaking waves, highlights and can be put over painted areas if you want to keep that color. Use a white candle or paraffin.

The scraping can be done with a knife or Exacto blade or you can use an old credit card and cut angles and points into. Scraping damages the paper surface so it is permanent.

Alcohol can be put in a spray bottle or just use a toothbrush  and flick it on. Like the salt, wait until the shine leave the paint before hitting it with the alcohol for best results.


The green one is water spritzed on with a toothbrush. A bit different than the alcohol because it has more time to work to create blooms. Wait for the paper to lose its shine for best results.

I just used some India ink and brush to make lines, you can use paint then spritzed it with my squirt bottle in places. Ink needs to be wet/

Lifting with a paper towel can make great soft clouds. Find a towel like Viva or a tissue without a pattern to use for this technique or it make leave that pattern in the paint.


Sponges can also be used to create texture. Natural sea sponges have a lot of different textures all on one sponge if you look for the right one at the store. Just dip it into your paint
and tap it on the paper. The harder you tap the more paint comes off so start gently.

You can do a similar thing with a scrunched up paper towel.

Wetting the paper first then dropping or lightly adding color can create some soft diffused patterns that are great for out of focus backgrounds.


Here are 2 examples of how to use scraping and lifting to create veins in a leaf.

This is just a small sample of what kinds of things you can do with watercolor and a bit of experimenting, look through your cupboards and see what else you can find.

Until next time keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Summer 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Summer Fun Week 4

I was finishing up my painting this week and put in the tire tracks with just a light shadow color (blue, purple and water) and made a series of little comma strokes. Making a series of comma strokes is better than just painting a line for several reasons: First a line looks way to straight and it doesn't look flat. Second the comma strokes can be varied in size to make the peaks look taller of flatter depending on the height of the "up" part of the comma. This is sand, so it is going to have a lot of variation depending on new tracks or people walking across the tracks. Finally, the bottom of the comma should flatten out so that visually the sand levels off between the ridges ___/  making you sand look flat. This takes practice and understanding, for now just trust me on this.

At the ends of some of the tracks I took some of the splash colors and used them at the very ends of the tracks, held my paper at an angle then added enough paint and water to make it drip, this ties it in to the drippy part of the painting and is optional if you want to try it. Remember we are experimenting with this painting and it is just a piece of paper.

The other thing I like to do when I am doing this splashing technique is to go over edges or and small detail with a permanent ink, fine point marker. If you have an India ink pen that works also. 

The lines help define the edges of things that might get lost in the splatters, try to keep the more solid lines in the foreground and broken ones in the background. The "AVE C" I did with a small paint brush and some gray I had on my palette.

As far as I am concerned, I am finished with my lifeguard tower, you can always find more to do but at some point you need to stop and live with it for a few days. Se it aside and don't look at it, after a few days set it up and step back 6 - 10 feet and look at it. If nothing jumps out at you, you are done. It is wise to not assess your work when you are sitting right on top of it, you need to stand back and see it in total and/or you can look at it in a mirror or upside down even upside down in a mirror, if nothing stands out like a sore thumb, it is done.

Next week we are going to be doing some more experimenting but this time we will be making samples of textures using various techniques like salt and Saran Wrap, you can use the backs of old painting you don't like or scraps of watercolor paper. This is a fun thing to do and will give you a catalog of textures as reference for future painting. 

keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Summer 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Summer Fun Week 3

When you are working in watercolor, you work in layers or washes to build up value (darks) and color intensity (strength of the color), this is what I was doing in class this last time.

I added another layer of color over all of my lifeguard tower to intensify the color and to help it stand out from the back ground. I also added more dark colors in the shadows to make them stronger which give more intensity to the light in way of contrast.

I also added the shadow under the tower with a mixture of ultramarine blue and a tiny amount of purple to make a lavender blue color. Please look at the shape of the shadow on the ground because it will help set your tower down, it has a unique shape under the ramp and at the front of the tower. Most of you just painted  a solid stripe the same width and shape from the ramp to the back of the tower totally missing the fact that the ramp is offset to the other side of the platform and that here is some light that goes under the tower because the sun is low in the sky. ALWAYS LOOK BEFORE YOU PAINT. Shadows are important and they have their own shape, be aware of that fact.

The poster on the back of the tower doesn't require a microscope to put in what looks like writing and pictures. This is where negative painting comes in. Leave the areas you want as writing or the little squares you see in the photo, the under painting that is there PAINT AROUND those areas with a darker color so you leave the lighter under painting which now becomes a suggestion of words and pictures.

I also started to add shadows to the railings and posts.





I think I will be finishing up my project next week but if you still need to work on it longer take you time finishing you own project, we have about 3 weeks left in the semester. If you are done with your project bring something of your own in to work on and I can help you get started on your project.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Summer Fun Week 2

In our last class I started the under painting for the lifeguard tower and the sand.

Remember that in watercolor we work from light to dark so if we need something to be light we need to save it.







The first thing I did was to paint the entire tower, except for the windows, with a light wash of color. I didn't paint around any of the posts or railings, I painted EVERYTHING in this first color. This will be come highlights if I need them. (I used my Cheap Joe's color of Andrew's Turquoise you can use any blue or add a touch of green to the blue if you want.)

When this wash was dry, I added some purple to my color and this time I painted around the railings and other light areas and put a wash of color over everything that is darker or in shadow. I may do this several more times to bring up not only the value (light vs dark) but also to increase the intensity of the color or its vividness.  Watercolor dries lighter so getting the right amount of intensity can take several layers and it is better to sneak up on the color rather than trying to get it in one shot because you end up putting the color on too thick and lose the watercolor look in your painting.

The windows are done in a couple of steps. the first step are the window frames. Because they are in shadow they are not white or we could leave the white of the paper. I mixed a gray of ultramarine blue and a touch of burnt sienna with a lot of water to make a tint of gray and covered the whole area and let it dry. I re-wet just the window pane areas with water and wend over with a light wash of blue, let it dry for just a second or two, then took a stronger mix of blue with a touch of purple (very little purple or you can use a touch of alizarin) then just made some shapes in the window. Look at the photo and all you will see inside the tower are dark shapes, that is all you are creating.

The flag is pretty simple, the thing you need to remember is the top and bottom stripes are red and the stripe under the blue is white. With my small angled shader, I used my ultramarine blue and just dabbed it in where the blue should be leaving a few white spots showing. You do not need to do all 50 stars, just suggest them. Same with the stripes. Because the flag is waving the stripes are not straight and may disappear or you only see parts of them. Don't over think it, keep it simple.

I will be continuing from this point in class, I hope you can get your paintings to this point for class.

Keep painting and I will see you in class,

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Watercolor Class Summer 2017

Watercolor Project: Summer Fun Week 1

There are times as artists we need to get out of our comfort zone and try new things just to expand our skills, our knowledge and to face our fears - yes fears. We are so afraid of making "mistakes" we forget that art is suppose to be fun, and I often fall into that category my self. I will see the rut I am in from the bottom looking up and realize I am just going through the motions and I need to find something that really challenges me and that is how I got into splattering.

I was in a rut reading one of my watercolor magazines when I came across an article on a woman artist and she started all her watercolors by splattering. It looked interesting and really wasn't in my comfort zone but if I didn't like it all I was out was a bit of time and a piece of paper. I had so much fun I started looking for more subjects where I could use splattering.

I find it works best if you have a simple subject but I have used it very effectively with more complicated subjects, I just think it brings a sparkle and a bit of fun when used in a simple setting.

I took the photo of the life guard tower and thought what fun this would be to add a bit of summer fun with splattering. I used my warmer colors (red, orange and yellow) in the sky but didn't sweat it if they went everywhere, same with the cooler colors (blue, purple and green) I used in the land area. It just doesn't matter. What does matter is to know when to stop. It can feel really good to just throw paint then next thing you know you have a pool of mud on your paper. You can always add more.


I also used plain water when I splattered and where paint and water touched, it created a bloom or back run a fun thing when doing this kind of thing. Then I let it dry completely when it was where I liked it.

I had already put my drawing on the paper so I now needed to start working on the back ground.

Notice how the negative painting makes the tower stand out.

The color you choose is up to you for your sky, I wanted it to say "California Sun" so I started with my yellow around the tower moving it out from the tower and the top of PV. While it was still wet, I went right into my orange and started the orange just inside the yellow and let the watercolor blend itself (the yellow needs to be wet for this to happen). I repeated this with my red but as I moved the red out towards the edges of the paper, I rinsed my brush often and used just water to move the red until it faded out. Rinsing your brush often is key to this technique.

The PV cliff were done using burnt sienna, a touch of blue and water to thin the color, the green trees I added Hooker's green to the sienna color to gray the green.


The water was my ultramarine blue with water and touches of thin purple.


Don't forget to paint the water and the cliffs behind the railings of the tower. This is called negative painting when you paint around an area and in watercolor it is important to remember this technique.

Try to have your paintings to this point when we meet again in class. I will be continuing from this point.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Spring 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: Farmers' Market

This is the final on the Farmers' Market project. I hope that you learned that but taking it one step at a time even the most complicated subject can be fun and challenging. You can only paint it one stroke at a time regardless of whether it is simple or intricate so don't let the subject scare you away.

Here are some of the final things I did to complete this project:

The grating on the front of the fruit stands does not need to be  detailed out board for board. I suggested the cross hatched panels by using a light grey (ultramarine blue a touch of sienna and lots of water) and using the dry brush technique (very little water or paint on the brush) with my 1/4" angle brush, I did a series of //////// strokes, then I did the reverse the same way only \\\\\\\\\, so it looks like vague "Xs" . Then I added some darker gray in a few spots to suggest you could see behind the grate to the darkness under the stand. All that matters is that is suggests the grate, it doesn't need to hit you over the head with it.

The fruit in the stand needs to look like it is going into the distance to create depth in the painting, so remember that as things go into the distance they become less intense in color, closer together, and less detailed. The fruit that is closer can have more detail and that tells the viewer what they are looking at in you painting. Even the little lady is just a suggestion as are the figures in the door way but it is enough of a suggestion to suggest people.



This was a happy accident. I hadn't planned to make the oranges as big as they turned out but because I did they look like they are on a stand closer to the viewer than the apples behind them, I am good with that, gives a bit more depth. Notice the difference between the detail in the pineapple and oranges and the apples and peaches behind. The peaches are just basically shapes of color yet it says peaches.





The signs and price tags do not need to be detailed either. All you need are a couple of them that show some believable word then the rest of them are just marks that suggest words. Let your viewer do some of the work.









The lights and the string lights were pretty simple. for the big ceiling lights after I removed the masking I did a bit of lifting right around the area that was masked. If some of the color remains, that is okay, it just needs to be a bit lighter not paper white. While it was still wet, I flooded the area with a mix of yellow and orange to create a golden color, when it was dry I suggested the fixtures. Don't get nit picky with this or it will look over worked. The string lights I just took a dark color on my 1/4" angle brush and just touched the chiseled end to - once again - suggest the wire holding the lights.

While this was a complicated scene once we broke it down into manageable pieces it came together quite well. 

Finish this to whatever degree of detail you want for your needs but all in all everyone did a great job and I hope to see you all next class. 

Keep painting.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Watercolor Spring 2017

Class Project: Farmer's Market Week 5

Because this project has so many little areas to paint, it takes time. It also teaches you to work in, around and through your painting because it can cause problems painting next to a wet area without worrying about getting back runs or blooms. It is also rewarding because you can continue to paint skipping around the painting while waiting for things to dry before you go back in to increase value and/or color intensity.

The first thing I did in the last class was I put masking fluid back on the string lights behind the counter. I really needed it to be darker so not only would the lights show up better but also so that the plastic bags in the front would also show. Remember that you heed to use contrast - light against dark - to create a sense of depth. After the masking dried, I went back over the area - the entire area - with a thin mix of blue and a touch of crimson. Now you can see how the plastic bags stand out against the darker background.

I started the pineapple and finished the oranges.

The pineapple is interesting because the two sides of it's leaves are different. the under side has a stripy variegated look to it almost like chevrons in a pale blue/green color and the top of the leaves is more a solid green. 

While I hadn't intended it to happen, once I got my oranges painted in I realized that because I had made them bigger than the apples by quite a lot, the oranges appear to be on a closer table than the apples, not wrong just a happy accident because it gives more depth to the painting.

Everyone was curious about what I was going to do with those blank tags in the fruit in the front and the tags in the back, well, write on them of course!

Here's the trick when putting written words in a painting especially if they are very small: Find one of the closer tags and write all or part of an actual word or number (see the peaches tag in the front?) then the rest of the smaller tags in the back only need to suggest letters and numbers, the viewer will fill in the rest.


I still have work to do on my painting so I will continue bring my painting up in color and value, adding detail...I probably have a week or two before I am finished.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.