Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer 2018 Watercolor Project

Watercolor Project: Marsh Madness Week 4

This turned out to be the final week of this project. yes, I could do more If I want, as could you, but for all intents and purposes we did what we set out to do.

These trees on the left we gave them texture by making a darker color with burnt sienna, blue and a touch of purple (remember, if it is in shadow, it needs blue and purple to make it look like a shadow), then using the edge of my 1/4" flat, angle brush I made a series of marks on the tree trunks to create the texture of the bark. You MUST remember to leave some of the previous color as you do this, that previous color becomes the highlights to the shadows you are putting in. Watercolor is light to dark so you must remember to save your highlights.

As I walked around I saw that most people do not believe me when I say that the liner brush needs to be practiced with BEFORE you get to your painting. Some were even blaming the brush because it was too fat rather than practice. Most of you have a #3 or smaller, mine is also a #3 and it can make so hair-fine lines, but it takes practice. (See image)

First you want to fill the bristles to the metal ferrule by wiggling it around in the ink-like paint. As you lift off your palette, roll the brush in your fingers so it comes to a point. Hold the brush at the very end and slightly down so the paint will flow from the bristles. If you press the bristles to the paper it will leave a fatter mark, as you drag your brush across your paper gradually lift it up to the tip of the brush until it lifts off. You should have created a line that starts thick and tapers to nothing, that is your first branch. To create branches, and if you loaded your brush correctly you should still have paint for several branches, start back in the fatter part of the branch you just painted and as you pull and lift, go off in a different direction. Yes, I make it look easy because I have been doing this for decades but I also did a lot of practice when I was learning how to use this brush and I watched others use this brush, it will come IF you take the time to practice.

I had some of my branches go all the way into the light area at the top to break up the negative space, then I added some leave shapes off of some of the branches and twigs but I didn't cover the entire light area so you can see the sky through the leaves.

On the right hand side, I had masked out the two branches coming in from the side so I could add more reflections from the bushes in the water (wet the area and added a sap green and blue and letting the paint run on the paper) and when it was dry, I added reeds sticking out of the water. I used several shades of green for the reeds from light (yellow and sap green) to a dark green (sap green, blue and a tiny touch of purple) and used my liner brush.

Once that area was dry, I finished the branches and added another in the corner and the suggestion of dead leaves as well.

I also took some of the dark green from the leaves to suggest reflections from the branches.

As I was finishing up the painting, someone said "All it needs are some ducks swimming through." good suggestion, so I added a family of ducks with just a few quick simple strokes: a ball for the head, a flat "U" for the body and a tiny touch of orange for the bill, the babies were just the round head and a tiny egg- shape for the body. These critters are way too small for much if any detail so don't try to paint feathers on these things. I also added some wake lines using the dark blue/green.

This is the finished project, if you need more time to finish yours we have 4 weeks left in the semester so there is time to get it done. If you have finished or tied of the project please be sure to have something you want to paint with you next class. I will be doing demos as needed because if one person is struggling with a technique, they probably are not alone. I do take requests as well. 

P.S. I did a wash over the entire painting with a color called Quinacridone Gold, several manufactures have their version of this color, it looks like burnt umber when you put it out but add a bit of water and it is a beautiful golden color. I will sometimes do a wash over a painting to warm it up, you don't have to but just wanted to show you some options.

So until next time, keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Summer 2018 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Marsh Madness Week 3

This week I got into more of the detail adding the darker trees on the left using a mix of burnt sienna and blue, just don't go for the final dark, remember we work from light to dark so this color will become highlights and texture.  I also added more dark colors into the lower parts of the trees and the water. It gets very dark in these areas but you need to sneak up on the dark rather than going straight for it, if you do your colors will become muddy and lose the transparency of watercolor. Have the actual reference photo of the scene in front of you and refer to it often.

Notice how I keep most of the darker areas near the base of the trees? That is because there are a lot of leaves and branches blocking out the light so it is always a bit darker at the bottoms or under trees.

I also added some middle tone greens to suggest the leaves that get some light but aren't in the direct sunlight. Keep your greens purer by adding yellow to brighten them and blue to cool them, stay away from anything with red in it or it will gray your greens.

This clump of leaves falls into the mid tone range because they are not in direct sunlight, these are growing from the closer trees. Add yellow to the sap green and dab on irregular shaped clumps of leaves going over some of the twigs and branches you did last week.

I wanted to intensify the lighter green that is in the reflection of the background big tree, so I carefully wet the ENTIRE AREA with water, then touched the paper with my brush with a mix of yellow  and sap green and let the paint do it's thing in the wet paper. Be sure to work on a bit of an angle so that gravity will work with you, not against you.

When that area was still a bit damp, I added yet more dark into the darker reflection.

I was also increasing the dark under the trees but remember to leave some of what was there before because that color becomes ripples in the water. You can wet the area if you want but it should only be damp so the paint doesn't travel too far from where you put is down. And always remember if you are painting water keep your strokes parallel to the top and bottom of your paper so you water will look flat.

On the right side under the bushes, I wet the paper all the way down then added some of the yellow/green for reflections of the leaves, just touch the paper and let the paint do it's magic and when I was a damp, I added the start of the reflections of the larger bases of the bushes. I did skip over the 2 horizontal branches come in from the right, I might add masking fluid to them because I do have more to do in that area before getting to those branches.

This is where I left off last class, I hope that you can get your own project close to this point so we can continue next class. We should be winding this up in the next week or two so keep painting and I will see you in class.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Summer 2018 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Marsh Madness Week 2

This week we slowed down a bit as we got into more detail, that is a normal evolution once you have your under painting done and you start to develop the painting.

We worked on both the larger and the smaller tree trunks and branches. The lighter tree trunk color on the larger trees to the left and the 2 branches on the right was a mix of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and water to make it thin or you can use burnt umber instead of the sienna. Under paint them and let it dry.

One thing I did because that area is a bit confused was to lift out some of the leaves I put in last week so I could see where my tree trunks connected. This painting which is the class project is a bit different from the one I did to get last week's steps for the blog, and I had lost parts of the trunks. In the end, I may end up going over it with leaves but for now it is trunk.

Closer view of the tree trunks' under painting.

I also started working on the reflections in the water. I use my flat angle brushes for most of the painting but either a regular flat or a round brush will work.

I didn't want to lose the some of the back runs or some of the color from last time so I was careful to work around them.

When you are working in water and reflections, it is important to keep your brush strokes parallel to the top and bottom of your paper. I made a series of over lapping parallel strokes around some of the light green on the left and the light green back run near the center with a mix or Hooker's green and blue with the occasional touch of purple to create a dark color but thinned it with water so it wasn't too dark yet. Remember we work from light to dark and the layers we are putting on now become the highlights and texture of the finished painting, so don't get too dark too soon or cover up all that went before.

We also got started on the smaller branches using the liner brush. The liner is a round brush with very long bristles to hold a lot of paint and water. It can be a fun brush to use but it does take practice. Some of you did practice others didn't, and I could see the difference.

Use the back of an old painting or even just some drawing paper, the point is to get the feel of the brush. Hold it and the very back end of the brush, roll it around in the paint all the way up to the metal ferrule and roll it between your fingers as you lift from your palette. The paint should be the consistency of India ink.

To get a wider line press down and as you pull the brush, lift up until you are on the tip. Don'e worry about shakes, this is actually a good thing when doing branches. When you want to make a branch or twig, follow the branch you want to branch off from for a little ways, the take the new branch off in a new direction, it will create a more natural transition from one to another.

Don't stop your branches too soon, let them flow. Look at how trees grow and how the branches and twigs will kinda flow to an end rather than come to an abrupt stop. Also don't be afraid to over lap or change direction. Look at trees for your inspiration.

In the above image and below notice how I used the ends of the branches to break up the light sky (a negative space) into a more interesting shape.

I will come back and add some leaves to parts of these branches so they won't look like dead sticks, though you will find dead trees in all parts of a natural landscape.
The little clump of trees on the right have branches and twigs that come out of the water and also out of mounds of dirt or debris and those stems and twigs go up into the existing leaves we already painted in so when you add the branches, stems and twigs be sure to skip over some of the existing green so it appears that the stems and twigs are coming in and out of the leaves. We will reflect  this area next time, until then keep painting and I will see you in class.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Summer 2018 Watercolor Class

Summer Watercolor Project: Marsh Madness Week 1

(Note: Apparently Google has added some kind of notice regarding the collecting of information, cookies and things of that nature, I only add links to the picture pages, if any other info is collected it is Google, not me, because I wouldn't know how to do it in the first place, let alone use it. Just an FYI.)

We started our watercolor project of the marsh this week and we got a lot done, I was surprised and pleased with what you were all doing, however, when I sat down to write the blog, I realized that I forgot to take photo of each step and without those steps you would be lost, so I did it again at home and photographed each step. It is a little different from the one I did in class but very similar and you will see how the painting developed.

The first thing we did was paint in the sky and start the water. 

First I wet the sky area all the way down to the bottom of the treeline, then I mixed a very thin mix of ultramarine blue and a tiny touch of burnt sienna to get a soft blue/gray then added this color to the wet paper. I was using my 2" wash brush to get it on quickly so use the largest brush you have for this first part.

When the sky was done, I wet the water area and used a slightly stronger mix of the blue and sienna applying that color in the areas of the water where I see the sky reflecting. (You will need to work fast because you don't want the paper to dry before you have your water completely in, spritz with your spray bottle if you need to but blend the spray in with your brush.) I then mixed a darker gray/green with the Hooker's green, blue and sienna to under paint some of the darker areas, I did this by just touching the brush to the wet paper and letting the color spread and do it's thing, you should also be working with a slight elevation to the back of your paper so gravity can help you otherwise you will have to stand your paper up so the colors will run together. The light green was sap green and yellow I just touched to the paper and let it run.

When the sky and water areas were dry I then under painted the the background trees. In watercolor we work from light to dark so I used thin washes of color for the first wash and I was using my 3/4" brush.

The lighter color was sap green, yellow and a touch of orange, the orange is to gray the color slightly because it is in the background, as things go into the distance they get lighter in value (dark to light), grayer in color and less detail. Plus water to thin it down. then let it dry for a couple minutes before painting in the tall tree. This time I used Hooker's green, yellow and orange, a little less water so it wasn't quite as thin and where the lighter trees and the big tree meet, I used the darker color to create the top of the lighter trees in front of it.

Another note: I was working on dry paper and was taping the color on rather than using a single direction to my strokes, this will create texture and you won't get strange streaks in your trees.

These next few images were done the same way as the above, with the same colors and techniques using just a little more color and a little less water but these layers should still be transparent and yo leave some of the previous lighter color as  the highlights in the trees.

In the darker shadows of the big tree, I did add blue to make the color a bit darker. I also let them dry completely in between washes of color.

This is a closer look at the detail of the big tree an the lighter trees in front. See how I use the dark to create the top of the front trees? That is negative painting, I am painting around the areas I want to keep light.

Next layer, same as the last layer, this time I am using the dark color from the big tree to create the over hanging branches near the water, again, that is negative painting.

I added just a little water to the dark color and started to create some of the closer over hanging leaves. Because they are close I can make them look more like leaves but these are just  quick marks to suggest leaves and clumps of leaves, you do not have to get out a one haired brush to create the perfect leaf.

Look closely, the marks go in all directions, sometimes I mad a blob of color and pulled leaf shapes out from it, then look at the photo and you will see practically the same things: just shapes.

The background, for all intents and purposes, is done, I may go back when I am close to finish to fine tune it but not my focus is on the foreground trees.

The trees on the left were filled in with the Hooker's green, blue and water but NO orange. These trees are closer so their colors will be truer. I used this color also in the water in the back ground being sure that the edges were soft by slightly going along the edge of the light streaks with a damp brush.

The trees on the right are a lighter color so I used sap green and yellow and while it was still wet, I just touched pure yellow along the top edge and let the color blend themselves. I also used this color to add to the water on the left to suggest some of the moss and duck weed in the water.

Close up of the tops of the near trees. Note the sky holes near the top of the trees.
 Notice how as the green gets closer to the ground it becomes denser and darker. I also negative painted around some of the  sticks.
Close up of the lighter trees on the right. I want you to note the shape of these trees, sort of a wedge, not good, I went back in and lifted out some of the background tree color and re-shaped the foreground tree.

Along with re-shaping the top edge of the tree I added some darker leaf shapes into the tree leaving the lighter areas as highlights. 
This is where we left off in the one I was doing in class (see below) so I have stopped here so I don't get ahead of you.

This is the one I started in class, you can see they are similar but different.

I hope this helps you get caught up, keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spring 2018 Watercolor Class

Spring Watercolor Project: Magnolia Week 5

In both the classes last week I finished the project as much as I wanted to in class. As an artist you can always find "just one more thing" to do to a painting but it is better to live with it for a while to be sure it really needs to be done because if you fiddle too much you are bound to ruin what you already have, that is the point I am with these 2 paintings. I may or may not work on one or both at some point, I just need to look at them with fresh eyes and that is in the future - for now.

This is the finished version from the Monday class.

I did go back into my background with a more intense wash of color around the flower and branches. This more intense color really makes the flower pop.

This is the finished version from Wednesday.

Between the two, if I were to go back in and work on one it would be the Wednesday version because I do think - for my own tastes - I would like the background to be more intense in color like the Monday version but that is just my opinion. If you like how your's turned out, leave it alone.

The center from the Monday flower.

The center from the Wednesday's flower. 

One note on the dying edge on the shadowed petal, I used burnt sienna with a little orange for the "just dying" area and burnt umber for the dead edge because it is in the shadow and will be a bit darker.

From Wednesday's class. I did some detail work on the branches but at the top part of the branch to push it back a bit, with just water I lightly went over everything with a wide brush. This will soften the edges and fuzz them out making that areas look out of focus.

That is it for this project, we will be  doing some fun but practical things for the rest of the semester or you may work on your own projects, just keep painting and I will see you in class. 

I decided I needed to do something with the Wednesday version because to me it needed more color and more value in the background. I like it better now.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Spring 2018 Watercolor Class

Spring 2018 Watercolor Project: Magnolia Week 4


 The above images are from the Wednesday class to show what we worked on in class last time, basically it is just more of what we have been doing the past couple of weeks:  Adding more washes of color to intensify the color and darken the value.  Remember to leave lighter areas where you want it to look sunlit or to use lighter colors (more water than paint) in those areas and darker cooler (blue mostly, or a little purple) colors in the shadow areas. Have your reference photo in front of you to guide you.

This is from the Monday class, we are a little bit ahead of the Wednesday class so these are dome of the finishing touches.  I like to add what I call "bug bites" when I am painting plants. Plants in nature aren't usually perfect and I think those imperfections add character.  I start with a mix of yellow and orange and paint it along the edge of the petal, then rinse my brush and with a damp, clean brush and my whole brush edge touching the paper and the petal side to the color, I soften the edge of the yellow. WHILE THE COLOR IS STILL WET, I pick up burnt sienna on the tip of my brush and just touch the edge of the petal with the color and let it bleed on its own,  the key here is to work wet into wet.

This is also Monday's project.  The green center of the flower I used sap green with a touch of yellow and was using my small 1/4" angle brush. I left the little yellow scales on the green center by painting around the scales, this is negative painting.  The stamens I added a yellow/orange mix as well as an alizarin.  Remember that the stamens are curves as they come up and around the green center and they are longer than you think. When it was dry, I came back in with a dark mix of blue, sienna and a ting touch of purple to make the darkest shadows.

I also darkened the stem under the flower and around some of the closer branches and buds with the shadow mix from above.  This is the time to create contrast and detail to finish up your painting.

This is where I left off in the Wednesday class, we will be adding some finishing touches next class and possible finish up completely as well.
This is the Monday version and at this point I think I want to call mine done.  I will look at it for a few days though I am already seeing a few things I might want to improve on.  Finish your's up as you see fit.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Spring 2018 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: Magnolia Week 3

I think I have gotten both the Monday and Wednesday classes up to equal with each other, there are still things in both projects that we need to finish but really, not that much, it may only take a week or two - for me - to finish but I don't want anyone in either class to feel rushed. Take your time because if you try to make watercolor do something it doesn't want to do, you will not be happy with the results.

I am going to post the paintings from each class with a brief description in the post, if you need more detail scroll back to the previous post. I am very happy with what everyone is doing, when you are new to something it is always a challenge and watercolor has it's own challenges, keep up the good work, it will eventually make sense.

This is from the Monday class where we started adding shadows to the flower with a light lavender (ultramarine blue with tiny touches of purple and burnt sienna with lots of water). Be sure that the color is light, use layers of the light wash to darken shadows.
This is from the Wednesday class where we worked on basing the shadows in on the stems and branches along with adding the reddish color for the new growth.

Close-up of Monday's petals. I also went into the background with a blue-grey wash to darken the background and sharpen up the edges of my flower. I did this to both the Monday and Wednesday projects where I thought I needed it. I first wet a large area where I wanted the wash then just dropped the color in and let the watercolor do the work. By not trying to paint the area but just drop in the paint by touching the brush to the paper, I don't run the risk of disturbing the colors already there and create mud, a problem many of you had.

Again the Monday version with an area I added some more dark. By adding a darker color, it makes the light colors stand out, light and dark are values, all colors have various values from light to dark it is using the contrast between the light and the dark that creates depth and form, not the color or hue.

This is two layers of light lavender I used for the shadows on the Wednesday branches and twigs. I also used that color to suggest some of the scar marks (roundish circles on the branches) to suggest detail. We have more work to do but it is coming right along.

Both classes do the best you canto get your paintings to this stage as we will continue on. I will see you in class.