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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring 2017 Watercolor

Watercolor Class Project: Farmers Market Week 4

The next couple of weeks will be rather repetitive because you will be working around your painting bringing up the intensity (color) and value (darkness) in select areas, as well as adding detail in the foreground.

This is an important thing to understand as an artist: By creating things that have more detail in the foreground, you only need to suggest things in the background. The viewer will see oranges and apples then shapes and color and will assume that you have a whole market full of fruit, when all it really is is shapes and color.

I took a bit more time with the oranges using, napthol red with cad orange for the shadow parts of the orange, then adding yellow to the orange for the light areas leaving some of the very light first wash as the highlights. You can work the oranges without stopping by choosing oranges that aren't next to each other so they won't bleed into each other, though it wouldn't be wrong if it did.

I did the apples the same way using the napthol and crimson and made just general shapes or apples.

The plastic wrap is just light and shadow in don't make it any more complicated than it is, just look at the values and shapes before you start to paint.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring 2017 Watercolor Class

Class Project: Farmer's Market Week 3

One thing I don't mention often enough is composition, and it is one of the most important things to a pleasing painting.  This painting has very simple composition with strong perspective lines leading you into the painting. Also, things are placed in critical areas such as the worker and the purple flowers, they are on or near the "thirds" of the painting and with the pineapple in the corner for a triangle keeping you in the painting. Yes, I was thinking this as I was taking the photo, good composition is just as important in photography as it is in painting and many cameras have a thirds grid that you can use when you are composing a photo, use it rather then the center focus circle when you are taking photos and you will see an improvement in your photos and your art.

One of the things about a painting like this is because there are so many elements involved, you can move around the painting so that one area can dry while you work on another area in that way you bring it all up to the same level as you paint. Don't get stuck in one place not only will it look over worked but you will also create mud.

When I did the lettering I did break out my 1/4" angle brush but the letters are not hard to do. Using the sharp edge of the brush, I just touched the paper, gave a tiny side pull then moved on to the next letter and let them dry before adding the outline done the same way without the pull. The art work that looks like oranges on the end are just round orange circles I let dry then added some green leafy marks. Don't sweat the small stuff, just suggest the letters and shapes your viewer will do the rest.

The floor was painted with water first then starting with the light color (yellow and a touch of orange), I covered the floor area. While it was still wet, I picked up sienna and orange, starting about his foot, applied that color on the lower part of the floor and finally, I added blue to the sienna for the very foreground to suggest sunlight and shadows. Because watercolor dries lighter, I may have to do this again.

If you have under painted the flowers with light colors as you should have, creating the impression of a bunch or mums is simple. Again I used my  1/4" angle brush (you can use a small round or flat brush) mixing first a slightly darker purple (purple with a tiny touch of blue and water) and once again using the edge of the brush, I just touched the paper to give the suggestion of petals, leaving some of the lighter color for the centers. Look at the photo before you start this, even practice on a separate piece of paper if you have to it is very easy once you figure it out but it will take practice. The dark purple is the same colors less water. The leaves are done the same way, same brush just use green.

We have at least another week or two on this painting, do what you can and I will see you in class.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: Farmer's Market Week 2

When I started class I continued to add value to areas I needed darker and where I wanted it a bit more finished before I took off the masking. When I was satisfied that I had my values dark enough, I let my painting dry and then removed the masking (arrows). Notice how each layer of values looks compared to the white paper that was under the masking, this is how you create light in a painting using the contrast rule.

Detail of the areas that were covered in masking.

Area where the lights will be. In after thought, I probably should have made this area even a bit darker before taking off the masking but it will be okay.

Now with the masking off my painting I can see how areas look and where I need to add more shadow and contrast, for now, however, I started adding some suggested detail. I want you to note that there are no defined shapes in these background subjects, they are just color that suggests something there. don't make a bunch of circles, make overlapping circular shapes leaving some of the under color for highlights and contrast. Save detail for the foreground, only suggestions in the back ground.

I darkened the hair of the worker and did a bit of work on the apron. The dark color is a mix of ultramarine blue and either burnt umber or burnt sienna, the apron was a mix of crimson, napthol red and some blue to darken, I also used this color on the apples and plums in the background.

I also wanted it to look like some light is coming in from the door in the back ground so I added a mix or yellow and burnt sienna to make a golden color that I put on the floor.

This is where I left off in class. While I am now getting into the detail of the painting I am not fussing with it, save the one haired brushes for the final accents but at this point I am still at the suggestion stage. Take your time but don't sit in one place in your painting. Work around and through your painting bringing all of it up at the same time to the same point, otherwise you can run the risk of overworking your painting.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Farmer's Market Week 1

The first thing I did after I had my drawing on my paper was to protect the areas I wanted to leave white with masking fluid (blue arrows). This will allow me to do washes and work with a bigger brush and not worry about painting around areas I want left white. I will remove it after I am mostly done working in that area and not worried about accidentally going over my white areas.

Only the protected part of the paper will be left white, everything else and be brought down in value.

Next I applied several washes of a neutral gray to tint the rest of the paper. I used what I call "palette gray" made by mixing all the leftover paint in the cool area of my palette, but if you need to mix the color, my standard gray is ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, remember to use lots of water so it is only a tint.

Look at the arrows in this second image and you will see 3 layers of this gray I added (arrows) The top of his head is the value of the first wash, I let it dry. I then went over all of the next darkest areas (see the wall arrow) with another layer of gray leaving lighter areas unpainted, I let it dry before adding yet another layer of value to even darker areas of my painting leaving lighter areas unpainted.

Please note: You do not need to make darker and darker mixtures of gray, you use the same value you started with when you did the first light wash. Because watercolor is transparent, if you let it dry first before adding the next layer, the layer(s) underneath will make the new layer look darker because of the previous layer(s) will show through.

You should have your reference photo in front of you so you can refer to it as you paint these layers of value. See where the light hits the worker's shoulders then moves into shadows on his chest and face? Paint around these areas with the next layer of tint, this will work to your advantage as you progress.

After I did several layers of the gray tint, I started adding color into areas where the fruit will be. Note that it is just a mass of color, not individual pieces of fruit and also not that the tint is light, remember that in watercolor you work from light to dark so this first color represents the lightest colors you will see.

The 2 toned patch in the foreground is done wet into wet. Either add a second color into the first while it is wet by just touching areas with the new color or if you have let it dry, re-wet the area then touch the area with the new color. Let the paint do most of the work, just drop and touch in the wet and the paint will do the rest.

Also, I had protected the mini-lights with masking at the start of the painting as well (see arrows). They should be dots close together in the background and more like dashes as they come forward and spaced further apart.

This is as far as I got in our first class. Do not be intimidated by the complexity of a subject, you can only paint it one brush stroke at a time, so relax and take your time, think about what you are painting and why breaking it down to one brush stroke at a time then even the most complicated of paintings will come together in the end. Be patient with yourself and the process.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Winter 2017 Watercolor Final

Watercolor Study: Desert Values

The first day we worked on this desert scene we established our distant mountains, desert valley and the under painting for the foreground.

The distant mountains were made with a series of light washes on damp paper. This is the tricky part because you want the paper damp enough that you have soft edges but not so wet they blur out completely or so dry that you had a hard edge to deal with it is best to practice this first.

The "rule" about creating distance in a painting is: "As things go into the distance they become softer and grayer in color, less intense in color, less detail and closer together" keep this in mind as you create this background and keep your reference photo in front of you.

I first wet my paper from the top down to about half way then I did the sky in a wash of yellow. Your sky can be any color you want, with or without clouds just remember to keep everything light at this point, then let it dry enough so the shine has gone off the paper but the paper still feels damp, the with a light wash of blue and sienna with water to thin it - you want a color that is just a bit darker than the sky - you form the top edge of the distant mountain. Hint: If you start on the edge and the paint spreads to quickly, wait a minute and let the paper dry a bit more before trying again. Remember how the paper feels so you will know for your next layer how long to wait.

Paint this wash down to the bottom of the mountains, then wait until the paper has dried to the damp state you want before you add the next layer of mountains. Each layer is just a bit darker that the previous layer, just add a bit more blue and sienna to darken.

The desert valley between the distant mountains and the foreground still needs to have a grayed color because it is still in the distance but because it is closer than the mountains, you can add a bit of color to the blue/gray such as Hooker's or sap green and a touch more sienna.

If you painted the original yellow color all the way down to where the foreground starts, this is good, you may need to re-wet this area so that it is damp, this way you can just touch and drag your brush with the gray/green on your brush and leave the lighter sand wash as the yellow. If you didn't paint this area with yellow, you may need to add the sand color which is a thin was of sienna and any "mud" you have on your brush to gray the color. When the valley is done, let your painting dry completely before starting on the foreground.

Remember as a watercolorist, you work from light to dark which means that you will start out with what will end up being your highlights.

Also, the same rule as above applies when things are closer to you even in something like a still life, while things may have more color, the things in the background need to be just a bit grayer in color and softer or out of focus.

I used a similar color for the back part of the foreground bushes to what I used for the valley behind, but just a shade darker. I created an interesting shape to the top of these bushes by making somethings taller, others shorter; somethings wider others thinner. keep in mind that this is not a hedge that the gardeners prune every week, it is a wild landscape.

The distant cactus need to be a similar value as the surrounding bushes but you can under paint the closer cactus with what is on your brush because you will need to go over them again.

If you are doing the shadows and the twigs in the background, do not make them as dark as you will when you get to the foreground.

You may want to wait between layers of bushes before you add the next and with each layer while you are keeping it light, the color can become more intense, less gray.

Desert greens tend to be a bit on the blue gray side to begin with but to that you can add a bit of yellow or orange to brighten the color.

I added in the occatillo because someone who was not going to be able to get to the last class asked me how I was going to put it in,which I did with my liner brush. If I were painting this on my own and not in class, I would have waited until I had the cactus behind it done but if I am careful and I don't keep going over the cactus when it is wet, this shouldn't be a problem.

I also had a chance before class ended to start adding shadows and using the negative painting technique, I used the shadow color to create details such as the top edges of the layers of the bushes, some of the grasses and weeds, branches and twigs by painting AROUND these things with my shadow color, which, by-the-way, is a light wash of blue and green, I will make it darker in layers and will leave some of this color as an intermediate color. This is where I left off in class, I did do some work at home that follows.

I added a couple of layers of a darker wash over my closer cactus and let it dry in between each wash. As you can see, the lines of the occatillo can still be seen and I did not go over them again.

I added more shadow color to the shadows in the foreground but not in the back. Remember that the background color needs to be less intense because it is in the background. I did leave some of the previous color which now becomes detail in the shadows.

I added the cholla in the corner and deepened shadows. I am not going to put all the branches that are coming in from the side otherwise I would have used masking fluid to protect that area.

This is where I started when we had our last class. Notice that the furthest bushes and cactus are softer, grayer and less detailed than the foreground.

In class I kept working on adding shadows and creating details. There is a lot of negative painting going on here.

The darkest shadows are at the bottoms of the bushes. Look at the reference photo and you will see what I am talking about.

I added some red to the ends of the occatillo branches to suggest flowers even though they were not in the photo, I have seen them bloom and wanted to add a touch of color. This is just pure red to the edge of my 1/4" angle brush and ti just touched it to the paper or I used the point to make little dots. Nothing fancy.

I added another occatillo on the other side rather than the branches in the photo and I am calling this one done.

Remember that all of the things we did this semester were studies and studies are there so you can learn different techniques, try something you haven't done before, explore your subject before you include it in a "masterpiece", this give you confidence so you know what you are doing when you do get to your painting because now it isn't something foreign, it is something you know.

Keep painting and I will see you in class! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Winter 2017 Acrylic Class Final

Acrylic Study: Desert Values

I started in the sky area covering almost 2/3s of the area first spritzing it with a little water then with a thin coat of gesso to help the colors blend. Since this was wet into wet you need to work quickly while the gesso is still wet to add your other colors and to blend. I was using my #12 flat bristle but you could also use your 2" blending brush.

I double loaded my brush with yellow and orange and started at the bottom of the gessoed area and with long flat "X" strokes blended these colors up about half way adding color as needed. Then I picked up some napthol red and blended this starting about an into the top of the previous color and blended this up  about half of what was left of the area. Then I rinsed my brush. The reason I added red in this area is because I am going to use blue and purple next and depending on how strong your yellow or orange is you can mix green or brown in the transition area, if the blue or purple mix with red, you get a more violet color which looks more natural in the sky.

Still working quickly, I double loaded my brush with blue and a touch of purple and streaked these colors across the top of the canvas blending them in to the gesso and almost down to the warmer colors to where they are just touching, then rinse your brush again.

With a clean brush and VERY LIGHT long "X" strokes, start in the warmer area and blend up into the blue colors first then lightly blend down until that division line disappears.

A side note here: In theory, my distant mountains should be just a shade darker than the sky but when I got home I realized my sky was too dark to start, how I solved this problem is coming up. A problem can always be fixed in acrylic, first you have to figure out what it is.

I am still working wet into wet as I start making the distant mountains. Using some of that grey I made at the start of the semester (blue, senna and gesso), I added a bit more blue and a touch of sienna to slightly darken the color, it should be a light blue/gray. Still using the #12 bristle brush, I used the flat edge to shape the top edges of the mountain by pulling down, the interior of the mountain can be scumbled in, just don't paint a solid hard line for the top edge of the mountains.

Each mountain range was done the same way except each range was just a bit darker than the previous one - more blue and sienna. Be sure to give the tops of the mountains an interesting profile so it doesn't look like a bunch of "m's" marching across your canvas.

The desert valley was just a bit darker but this time I added a bit more sienna and a touch of Hooker's or sap green, also note that there is a dry wash which is sienna and a touch of that light gray and whatever mud is in your brush, it just needs to be a bit lighter.

I let the painting dry at this point before adding haze but I am skipping over the haze part until later since I had to do it again after my corrections.

The line of bushes starting at the back need to follow the same "rules" and the mountains which is: As things go into the distance they be come softer and grayer in color, lighter in value, closer together and less detail. Keeping that in mind and switching to a #10 bristle brush, I mixed a medium gray/green using the gray I have been using with green (sap or Hooker's) with a touch of sienna and/or purple in it, this is for the under painting of the bushes in the back. This isn't your darkest dark but it should be a bit darker than the desert valley. I used the corner of my brush to shape the top edges or the bushes and made sure to have a lot of ups and downs, sizes and shapes as I created each layer of brush. This isn't a bunch or manicured hedge rows so don't make them flat across the top.

Each layer of brush becomes more intense in color (less gray) and darker in value. This is just the under painting for the foreground so anything can and will be changed. This is where we stopped in class.

When I got home, I wasn't happy with what I saw, I thought it was the mountains and tried to correct them, but the more I fiddled with the mountains, the worse it got so I stopped and analyzed what was wrong.

Since this was supposed to be a lesson on value, I started there and right off the bat I realized that my sky had been too dark to start making the mountains look strange so I was trying to correct the wrong thing and had to rework starting with the sky. Since the sky is the furthest thing away from the viewer it is going to be lighter than any of the mountains so the following was what I did at home to fix what I didn't like.

I did not paint out the sky with gesso and start over, I just used gesso, yellow, orange and red and went over what was there and if I went over the mountains, so what? I had to fix them anyway. I worked my way down from the sky to the mountains (I shaped them better I think), even to the valley between. I liked it a lot better when I got done.

When that was dry I added the haze in the air which also helps to push the mountains back. This was a mix of gesso, blue and a touch of purple to make a light blue/violet color and I added enough water to it to make a thin glaze of color. Still using my #10 bristle brush and wiping out most of the moisture and paint, I use small circles and very light pressure on the brush and covered all of the desert valley and mountains with this haze. You can actually see it in the reference photo, it is just all the dust and stuff in the air that we see thought when we can look out over these kinds of distances.

You can see the haze a bit better in this image.

I sketched in the placement of my cactus with my vine charcoal so I could play with their placement if necessary, to erase something i don't like I use a wet paper towel and it is gone.

The cactus in the back area of the bushes need to be the same value as the rest of the bushes that are around them, I used blue, Hooker's green and that gray I still have to get the color and value I needed, I switched to a #4 flat SABLE brush to paint in the cactus because it gives me more control. Be sure not to get these distant cactus too fat.

As I came into the foreground, the cactus got darker and more intense in color so I could create distance in this closer area.

Note that even these closer cactus have different values so that one looks like it is closer than the other.

I made each arm of the cactus with a series of small "U" shapes using the #4 sable brush and pulling in from the side to create one side of the arm, then turned the canvas so it would be easier to add the other side to create the outside edges of the cactus and their width.

In class, I added the last cactus and the occatillo to  the foreground, nestling it into the brush in front of the cactus.

Even though they were in the photo, I added some red flowers to the tops of the branches of the occatillo, these were simple to make using red on my brush and just touching the canvas, nothing fancy.

I highlighted the bushes and added sticks and twigs.

The highlight colors are similar to the darker colors but I added either/or or both yellow and gesso to lighten and brighten and used my #6 bristle brush to create the layers of brush,leaving and sometimes adding more dark for the shadows and mid tones.

PLEASE, if you are working in a shadow area, you need to use blues and purple to make the shadow look like a shadow.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time in class for me to finish my painting but since it was a study and I think I have given you enough information, you can finish yours however you want. If I get time, I will try to finish mine and I will post it here.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.