Saturday, April 27, 2019

Spring 2019 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Plus Project: Pink Umbrella Week 1
(Monday Class's post will follow this post so scroll down.)

This week we started our version of the Pink Umbrella going step by step, one wash at a time.

Once we had the drawing on we added light washes of Yellow and Orange for the flowers and where there is going to be rocks or paths, a light wash of burnt sienna. Look at the photo for suggestions of the paths and rocks. I did move some rocks on the right of the photo into my design because they were outside the cropped area. I was "dabbing" with my brush rather than making long strokes and I was trying to follow the curves of the hills with my strokes to give texture and contours to my hills.

Second verse same as the first except on the rocks and paths. More orange and yellow to the flower ares to make them brighter and same kind of strokes. I need to get the value (darkness) of the hill behind the woman dark enough to make her stand out. This can take several layers to accomplish so don't try to rush the process because you can rush right past where you wanted to be.

I did a separate demo on creating rocks out of just a swath of color because the rocks on the hillside are rather small and would be hard for you to see.

Creating a pile of rocks so they don't look like a wall takes a bit of practice and studying rocks will help but the biggest thing is to vary your sizes and shapes.
It is very human to line everything up and make it all the same size and shape, Nature isn't like that. Things in Nature are chaotic/random, a pile of rocks can be an assortment of building sized boulders down to tiny pebbles, you as an artist need to be able to see this in Nature then picture it in your minds eye when painting. Fro this example I added some blue and crimson to the burnt sienna to create a cool, shadow rock color then decided the sun was coming from the left and shadows were on the right then tried to create a pile of rocks of various sizes, shapes and direction. This is also how I added the rocks into the painting (next photo) but with even less detail. Remember, suggestions are better in paintings rather than spelling it all out for your viewer.

All these rocks are is a suggestion. They are too far away for much detail and the shadows don't need to be any darker.

I added one more layer of color to the MIDDLE GROUND ONLY. The same orange, the same yellow and at about the same strength (mix or water to pigment). I didn't add any more to the far background to help give a sense of distance to my painting. I think that this is the last wash of color I will do on the middle ground flowers at this time, I will see how it looks when I"m a bit further on but at this point that is about where I want the value around the woman.

I also started added some of the green areas once I was done with the flower colors. The green is a mix of sap or Hooker's green and orange with water to thin the color to get an army green color. You can see the color where I painted over the white paper, those darker greens happen because I painted over orange areas with the green and the green became darker and browner, this is how watercolor works because it is a transparent medium, this is also what I wanted.

This is where we left off in class, we got a lot done, if you are still trying to get here don't worry we have time, just don't rush, take your time, speed comes with experience and with watercolor speed is a relative term.

Keep painting and I will see you in class
Monday Watercolor Class Project:
Pink Umbrella Week 3 Final

This week turned out to be the final week for this project, no one more surprised than I was, thought it would be at least 4 or 5 weeks to complete but that gives you time to finish or start your own project.

To finish up this painting I focused on the detail in the foreground with the plants and flowers and then the woman.

Where I had big patches of just color (yellow orange or lavender) I mixed a dark green with the Hooker's and blue with a touch or sienna to make a dark, cool drab green, then I negative painted in shadow areas in those solid colors to suggest clumps or individual flowers. You need to get dark in and around these clumps so they will stand out.

On the lavender color I mixed a deeper blue color with ultramarine and crimson to suggest the deeper colors of the blue flowers as well as the above dark green to suggest the clumps of flowers.

The woman isn't as hard as you would think, the hardest part was finding the right color for the umbrella and none of the colors I normally use would work, so I looked in my bag of paints and found Thalo Crimson and it was just about perfect, if you have Opera, that is also a good color for her umbrella. If you need some thalo, ask me in class, it only takes a tiny amount.

The umbrella and purse were only mixed with water to lighten. On the umbrella I added an almost straight out of the tube color right along the outside edge of the back edge of the umbrella, then I rinsed my brush and with just the water on my brush (damp not dripping) I moved the color up towards the to of the umbrella. I rinsed my brush several times so I could get a graded color. The top of the umbrella I left white.

The shadows on her dress was the same color I used on the lavender flowers but with more water so it was very dilute. I was looking at the photo so see where the shadows were and left the white of the paper as the white of her dress. 

For her face I used the shadow color and added a touch of burnt sienna to it, it was still very dilute. For her hair and the dark ribbon on her hat it was a more concentrated mix of the sienna and blue to create a dark color.

Do not get too picky with painting her, she is too far away for much detail, you just need to suggest things and she will be there when you are done.

This is the finished painting. If you need more time to finish yours we still have a couple of weeks left, otherwise, you and I can work on something we want to paint for the rest of the semester. If you have questions or need me to demo something you are having problems with, let me know and I will do a demo for the class because I am sure you are not the only one with similar problems.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Spring 2019 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Pink Umbrella Week 2
(Watercolor Plus students we just went over brush strokes last class and if you look in the side bar, I have a page just for brush strokes so I won't have a post use the page for reference.)

Starting on the distant mountain, I added the SUGGESTION of rocks and patches of green in the fields of flowers. Look at the photo. While there are rocks, it is because you assume they are rocks because of your experience and from rocks closer to you, yet they really are just shapes of light and dark.

Because this is in the distance I am keeping my colors lighter even the shadows. This is important to remember when you are trying to create distance in a painting: Things in the distance are softer and grayer in tone (color) and values (light and dark) and less detail. If you look at the "rocks" you will see all I did was use my shadow color (ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and a touch of alizarin crimson and water) and where I had white paper showing from the dry brush I did with the green last week, I made a few little strokes to suggest outcroppings of rocks. While I was aware of the slope I was painting on I didn't spend a lot of time worrying about rocks, just a variety of shapes going down a slope. Same with the green I added into the flowers to suggest patches of bushes (Hooker's green and orange and water). I wasn't trying to paint a "bush" I was painting the "suggestion" of bushes growing up and down slopes.

On the middle ridge behind the lady I added another wash of orange and yellows as well as adding the first suggestions of bushes, again being very aware of the contours of the ridge.

Even though orange and yellow seem light in value  and never get to a dark dark, they do get up into the mid rage on the value scale, and become more intense in color, the orange more than the yellow. I need all of the darker valued I can get behind the woman so when I take the masking off her white dress will show up against the intensity of the color behind her. If it is too light, she and her umbrella will not show up the way I need them to.

In the foreground I under painted with a light tan made with sienna, blue and lots of water. Because I have masked out areas that I want to keep white for now (the blue gray) I don't have to worry about painting right over the masking, same will go when you paint the bushes, just paint right over the masking.

Every plant has a unique growth pattern, learning how to create those patterns will improve your landscape paintings. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, again, all you are doing is suggesting how a plant grows. 

Many of the low growing shrubs in these desert and woodlands grow from a central area and send branches out from that area near the ground so they make little mounds with a fan-like shape (see image above). Other plants will grow more like a tree and create branches up the stem creating a more varied outline. I use my angle brush but you can use a flat or round brush and I suggest you practice first. 

The strokes of the fan shaped bush come back down to a central point on the ground. I used a series of over lapping strokes with the edge of my angle brush. The taller, more random shaped bush I created with the same brush but I was tapping the corner and working from the center line of the bush to the outside edge trying to create an interesting edge.

I left paths through the foreground bushes but I did try to connect patches of the bushes so I didn't have a series of brown stripes going across my paper.

This is where I left off in class. I have a bit more to do in the middle ground and maybe a few more rocks in the background but then I think I will be removing the masking so I can start finishing up this painting.

So keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Spring 2019 Watercolor Class

(I will be posting the beginning watercolor class blog first followed by the project we are doing in the intermediate class. Use is as a review of basics.)

Watercolor Plus: Creating Depths and Values with Washes

I for got to take photos of what we ere doing in class but since I have done this before with a similar pattern, I will be using those images for this post and will include the image from what we did in our last class.

When I did these photos I also numbered the leaves so you would know which order I left unpainted as I applied washes.

As you can see, after I did a wet into wet under painting, I left the top leaf unpainted EVERYTHING ELSE will get a wash of color. Just paint over  EVERYTHING with a light wash and let it dry before going to the next layer.

This is what it looked like after the first wash of a neutral gray (ultramarine blue and burnt sienna and lots of water). I painted EVERYTHING except the top leaf. When dry I added another wash of the SAME EXACT COLOR.
This is after the second wash or the same exact color. You can see that I left the 2 leaves to the side of the top leaf but EVERYTHING ELSE got  wash of color. The reason it looks darker is because watercolor is transparent and what is underneath a wash of color with influence the new layer of wash. You do need to work dry paper or you run the risk of stirring up the previous colors and creating mud. Let this dry.

This is the third wash of EXACTLY THE SAME COLOR. There is just one more leaf that I added to the ones I didn't paint to the left side of the top leaf, EVERYTHING ELSE GOT PAINTED.
This was the final wash of color and I added the remaining leaf to the ones I didn't paint.

Notice how dark the wash color had become just by adding layers but it is still transparent. If you look closely you will be able to see the original wet into wet under painting.
 From that last wash of color you can now finish the leaves any way you want adding more color (remember to keep the color transparent) or and bug holes or torn parts. The first part of this exercise was to get to here, this is how you build a watercolor working from light to dark and keeping the transparency of your watercolor. 
This is the study we did in class. I ran out of time to do more.

Practice this because when you are new,it doesn't make sense until you actually see it work but it will make all the difference in the world to your own paintings.

Keep painting.

Monday Watercolor Class: Project Pink Umbrella Week 1

You need a road map when you are doing watercolor even if it is just a simple one like we have this time, because it lets your know where things change.

After I got my sketch on, I used masking fluid to protect areas I wanted to keep either white because they are white or I wanted them to be unpainted so when I do add color the color will be cleaner and more vivid. You will see a blue/gray in the next image and that is the masking fluid.

This is just the under painting for the distant and middle ground of this painting, there is still more work to do with detail and color, I was looking for value and establishing the different color areas.

For the poppies I used cad orange as my base but to that I added a little burnt sienna and a touch of napthol red for shadowed areas, this is one of the exceptions to the rules: If I had put in blue or purple into the orange it would have muddied the color and I wanted to keep the color clean. This is also true for yellow keep that in mind when using those colors and you don't want muddy colors.

The sunnier areas of the poppies I added cad yellow light to the orange to keep the color bright but to also make it look more sun lit. There are some areas of mustard which are just the yellow. Do these in layers and build up the value and the intensity of the color using the layers (See the above post).

The green was a mix of Hooker's green and a touch of sienna. You want a light army green. I painted it on using the dry brush technique (little water or paint on the brush, then skim the paper's surface with the edge of your brush to leave white paper showing) so I have areas of dirt and rocks I will work on later.

There are also some lavender flowers usually where there is a slide area on the hill. That color is either a little purple with a touch or blue and sienna or if you don't have purple, the ultramarine blue, crimson and a little sienna to gray the color.

As always, paint in the direction of the shape of what you are painting. If is it rounded your strokes should be rounded. If it is angled your strokes should follow that angle. This isn't a wall don't paint it like one.

I will continue from here in our next class so keep painting.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Spring 2019 Watercolor Class

Value Paints the Picture

This is the quick little value study we did in the Wednesday beginning watercolor class but it is good review for all beginning and intermediate students because it might seem simple at first glance but is one of the areas were all students struggle when they start to paint or draw.

Value - or the lightness or darkness of an object or a painting - is the most important aspect of your painting because it gives your painting a third dimensional and/or dramatic look even if you are a more impressionistic painter. Learning to use a full range of values from light to dark will make your painting more exciting and interesting.

Keep the saying in mind: Value paints the picture, color gets all the credit.

To create the shape of an object you must have a light side, a dark side and the middle tones. Start paying more attention to these things in our surroundings you will see what I am talking about.

I start with an apple because it is more interesting than just a plain sphere but you can use any simple object to do this exercise. It is best to find a place to work with one light source like a window or a table lamp (not an overhead light because it will give you "flat" light on your subject). Look at your subject and study it before you paint it. Where is the highlight? where is the darkest shadow? How does the light transition from the light to the dark. Learning to "see" is an important skill to have as an artist.

Since I can do this in my sleep, I don't need to have something in front of me to know if light strikes on one side the shadows are on the lower, opposite side and an apple is pretty simple to draw.

To start my value under painting I used a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna to make a gray using a bit more of the blue to keep the color on the cool side. Starting in the darkest area with my gray, I established my shadow Please note where the shadow is on the apple. It is on the lower right side away from the highlight and it does not go all the way up to the top of the apple because that part is in the light. It also goes op a little bit on the left side because the apple is round and the wide part of the apple is blocking the light from the very bottom of the apple. This is why you study the subject first before you start painting.

Once I established the shadow, I quickly rinsed my brush and with a series of tapping and dragging type strokes right along the inside edge of the shadow, I started moving paint put the apple to "grade" the color and soften the edge of the shadow. Each time I had moved a bit up the apple, I would rinse the brush and with a damp brush, go back into the area I just painted, again along the edge, and move paint up the apple until there was very little paint to move. I let this dry then repeated this process several times until I got the apple and its values where I wanted them. The example above is 4 or 5 washes of color and it is better to do several washes (layers) then try to get there in one shot because you will put the paint on too thick and will loose the transparency of the watercolor.

With my values established and my painting completely dry, I add my first wash of color which was a mix of cad yellow with a touch of orange and a lot of water. I went over the entire apple including the shadow areas. 

Try not to go over your apple more than once if you can help it because each time you run your brush over an already painted area you run the risk of stirring up the paint underneath and creating mud on your paper. I will be putting a wash of a similar color on later when the apple is dry, keep reading.

I like gala apples especially to paint. I used reds and oranges to create the stripes on the apple - reds more in the shadows and orange or orange with yellow in the sunnier, warmer areas and the apple was still a little damp from the yellow overall wash I had just put on.

I waited for the apple to dry before giving it a final wash of color. 

Watercolor always dries lighter so it is important to let it dry completely before assessing where you are in a painting. I thought my apple was a bit pale so I used a mix or the yellow and orange and went over the entire apple again to intensify the color of the apple.

This works with everything you do in watercolor. You must work through layers or washes to create values and intense colors but even if it may seem tedious doing layer after layer, by working in layers of washes you keep the transparency of the watercolor which is what most people are looking for when they view a watercolor and you will be happier with your own work as well.

Watercolor is a challenging medium but I think it is also the most rewarding once you understand how it works, so keep painting and I will see you in class.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Winter 2019 Watercolor Class

Creating a Composite Painting - Week 1
(I have edited this post to include the sketch I worked from and this weeks stage of the painting. - LP

As I have said before, there are times when you have a great photo of something but it is in a terrible setting, this is when you need to get out our artistic license and create a fitting background for your subject. This starts with having good reference photos to look through to give you ideas.

When I am out taking photos, I purposely look for things that I might need someday for something I am painting whether it is clouds or rocks or trees or water or fill in the blank, I take photos just to have for reference when ever the need arises and it does quite often.

For this demo, I looked through images I have taken over the years to find a subject and came across these 3 woven grass baskets. As you can see I took the photo on my counter in front of some appliance probably because I had good lighting coming in from a window. I knew that the background was irrelevant because I could put in anything I wanted. Next I needed to find a background so I went back into my computer files.

 I found some interesting rocks that I had taken photos of when I was in Arizona, this was all I needed to create a sketch and then a drawing that merges the baskets and the rocks into my soon to be composite painting.

The first thing I did was to make some small sketches to decide how I wanted my painting to look. Did I want it vertical or horizontal? Close up or at a distance? Doing sketches lets you compose your painting to see how the different elements work together, what composition works best and where your light source is coming from. In this instance, I lucked out and the light was coming from the same direction in both photos.

Once I had my idea down I sketched it directly onto my paper. Usually, I will do a more exact drawing on good drawing paper or tracing paper, this way, if I want a larger final image I will scan it into my computer and print out a pattern the size I want using the Poster 8 software (the link is in the sidebar under Lerri's Links). The reason I usually go this route is because I want to make all my corrections on paper that is better suited for being erased so I don't damage my watercolor paper which usually has a softer surface and doesn't take erasing very well. It also allows me to save the pattern for future use if I want to paint it again.

Once I had my drawing on my paper I started doing washes of color over my paper. This is about 3 layers of wash on the background rocks and I am starting to sort out the different rocks and cracks. I have a long way to go.

Here you can see my drawing a bit better but I could have used this closer composition as well, I will save that for next time.

Don't be afraid to merge 2 or more photos together to get the painting you see in your head, that is the beauty of at and as I have said, artists are the original photo shop, we are only limited by our imagination. Keep painting and I will see you in class.

This last week I added more layers to build up the values (darkness) and the intensity of the color as well as drop come color into the rocks. I added a bit of detail into the rocks I think one more session and I will call it done.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Winter 2019 Watercolor Class

Using the Backgrounds

(There is no update for the Watercolor Plus class because everyone is working on their own projects.)

In our last class we took the background studies we did in previous weeks and added a foreground. It was supposed to be an exercise in using your imagination to look at the background and see what you could come up with but apparently it was just too easy for most to do what I did, don't worry, I won't make that mistake twice 😀

Below are my "before and afters":


You can practice these backgrounds on watercolor cards then add something to it like practicing trees or waves or mountains or fruit or.... Then send them off to your friends who will love them. the more you practice the easier watercolor will become. So keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Winter 2019 Watercolor Classes

Backgrounds and Skies Watercolor Demo

(Edited 2/2/19. I added the studies I did in the Monday class to this post because the techniques are the same even if the colors may be different. the Wednesday class seemed to want to do their own thing so there wasn't anything to post this week.)

A painting is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle you are making yourself and each of those parts are just as important as any of the others, backgrounds are just as important as your subject. Think of the background as part of the supporting cast working with the main character to enhance the main character's performance, if the background isn't working it will detract from your subject and your finished painting may not be as successful as it could be.

Many times you need a background that is just a simple background of color. It can be any color or colors but it is just a soft blend, for instance if you are doing a portrait, or a still life.

 In this example I wet the area first with just water, the paper wasn't dripping but damp. I started in the center with my lightest color (yellow), painted a circular shape, rinsed and dried my brush, picked up some orange and just touching the edge of the yellow, put a circle of color around the yellow. I did the same with the red on the outside of the orange. You want the colors to blend naturally so there are no hard lines. If there are hard lines, with a damp brush go over the line between the colors and gently soften the hard edges. You need to work quickly because the paper dries and that is how hard lines happen. This is called wet into wet where you are adding wet paint onto a wet paper.
From the Monday class.

Sometimes your painting calls for a soft focus background like distant trees for instance. Here instead of doing a wet into wet as above, I did a wet on dry (wet paint onto dry paper), but I made sure that the paint touched so they could bleed and soften into each other. First I added the green then came back with the blue and finally when the paper was drying I added some sienna to suggest branches. This is really all you need to tell your viewers that there are trees in the background.
Monday class

Even when you are doing a close up of something like and animal hiding in the grasses or a basket of fruit that has fallen over, it is important that you leave the detail to the foreground. To create a soft focus suggestion of grasses or reeds, I did this wet on dry (see above) using several different colors - yellow, sienna, orange and green - streaking the brush in the direction of the growth of the weeds so you can see the direction of growth. It is important when you are painting to follow the direction or shape of the thing you are painting because the eye picks up on subtle movements in the paint. We aren't painting walls.

Monday class

A couple of people were starting some projects of their own and it was easier for me to show them and the rest of the class how I would go about creating the skies they had chosen.

This late afternoon sky was first wet with water (wet into wet), they I under painted the whole sky with yellows and oranges. Always start with the lightest colors or you could lose the brightness of the color. I let it dry for a minute so it wasn't drippy wet, then added the blue/purple or blue/red mix to the sky. I wanted a lavender color for the clouds. Because the paper was on an incline, gravity helped me paint the clouds. To the damp clouds I added some red and just water to lighten or add color. Each time you will get a different result but it is fun to experiment. the key is the dampness of the paper: Too wet and it all blends together; too dry and you have hard edges.
Monday class

The next one was for a simple blue sky.

First I wet the paper (wet into wet), then, starting at the top of the paper, I added blue  and worked it down the paper so it was lighter at the bottom than at the top. If you need to add more color because it got to light, start at the top again. Rinse your brush and use the damp brush with no color to move the color from the top to the bottom of your sky. While it is still wet, take a paper towel or tissue, wad it up then press it onto the paper and lift up. This is called lifting and it makes great clouds. You can also lift thinner clouds by using a clean damp brush.
Monday class

This was something I did only in the Monday class because a student wanted to know how to do storm clouds.

First I wet the paper and did a graded wash of blue then turned the paper upside down and did the same with some red.

While the paper was still wet, I used a mix of blue and sienna to make a dark gray (more blue than sienna to keep it cool) and with my 3/4" angle brush I made cloud shapes into the wet background.  In these dark clouds I lifted out lighter tops with either a brush or paper towel or I added color by dropping a color with a lot of water in it and touching the area of the cloud and letting the paint do it's own thing. The down pour was caused by adding more water to an area where the water was already accumulating until "the dam broke" and it flowed down the paper. The mountains at the bottom were a happy accident of drying paper.

Save these studies because we are going to do something else with them.

Practice and experiment with these techniques because I make them look easy but learning how much water to have on your paper and in your brush to do these successfully takes practice.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.