Saturday, December 27, 2008

Torrance has problems

I want to appologize for the problems that Torrance has been having with their web site, they say it should be back on-line on the 31st. I'm not holding my breath, when I e-mailed my boss she said it was only going to be a couple of days and that was 3 weeks ago.

Anyway, I hope that it hasn't stopped you from signing up for any classes you want to take, you can still sign up by mail if you have a catalog, in person by going to the office or by phone or FAX (phone: 310-618-2720 FAX: 310-781-7598). If you send it in by FAX please be sure to include all you credit card info so they can process your request.

If you haven't already, you can check out the projects I will be using as demos this semester. Read the previous entry for specifics, I think this should be a fun class.

Again, I'm sorry for this inconvienence I do hope to see you in a couple weeks. Hope you had a good Holiday and have a very happy New Year!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Projects

Both classes please note: I will be painting from my own photos of my own critters, however, if you have critters of your own that you would rather paint, please feel free to "do your own thing", everything I will do with my paintings can be applied to yours though you will have to do a bit of adjustment of color and shape.

If you are planning to paint an animal different from mine, take this time to research and draw your design. I can't tell you how important this is to your painting, it is like a road map for you to follow.

If you do not have or can not find an animal to paint and want to learn how to paint furry critters please feel free to use the drawings and reference photos I have uploaded to the Winter 08 picture page.

If you are just starting my class, please click on the archives to find a list of supplies.

Acrylic Project - Winter 08

For those of you who want to learn to paint animals, this semester I have slected my dog, Dusty, as our model, though as I stated above, you are free to paint a critter of your choosing, just watch the demos and apply what you see to your own painting. I do the projects so you can learn through example so if you are more comfortable following my design and reference, that is fine with me but don't feel you need to paint what I'm painting, my feelings won't be hurt.

Watercolor Project - Winter 08

My watercolor project this semester will be of my kitty, Tiger, when he was a kitten. You will find a drawing and a reference photo at the above link. You may follow along, paint from your own reference or if you have a kitten in mind, you can use the drawing I worked up and just change the color and/or markings of the kitty to make it your own.

Everyone please be sure to get signed up for classes ASAP so the classes don't close and also talk to family and friends to see if they would like to take classes. I know times are a bit tough, but I would hate to see anything happen to the art program here in Torrance. See you in the New Year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Class Update

I checked with my supervisor to varify the dates for the class and she said that the class will run thru March 16th to get our 8 weeks in. The Monday classes are in a bit different situation because we have 2 holidays during the schedule so we make that time up at the end.

If I hear anything different, I will let you know here. Thanks to all and see ya soon...

Oh! BTW talk to neighbors and friends and see if they want to take classes we can use all the bodies we can get. Later.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Winter Classes 09

I just got my Seasons catalog and I checked on something that another student brought to my attention that the 8 week class seems to only be 6 weeks according to what is printed in the catalog. I do not know but sent an e-mail my boss to check into this situation and will post here when I find out.

I hope that we will have the full 8 weeks, it is hard to plan for shorter classes and I know that my students are looking at the economic aspects of taking classes that keep getting shortened and more expensive as well.

I will let you know so watch this space.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Last Class

This week will be the last class of the Fall '08 semester. The Winter Semester starts the Week of Jan 11th.

You should be getting your Seasons catalogs after Nov. 10th however, if you are out of the area registration for Torrance residences start on Nov 18th, non-residences can register starting on Dec.2nd.

Please be sure to get registered as soon as you can for the classes you want because if they don't see enough students registered they may close the class the week before classes start, then it will be too late. Register early.

Both classes remember to bring something for critique on Monday. It can be your best work or something you need some help on. Don't be shy, this is were you can learn some valuable lessons.

I hope that everyone had a good semester, I know I did. I do want to wish Kathleen well in her move to Colo, she will be missed.

Check back here occasionally between now and the next semester I will post the projects for the next classes we will be doing animals in both. Have a great holiday and happy New Year.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall 08 Projects

Demo: Wood Grain in Acrylic

Creating the look of old wood in acrylic is easy if you remember one simple rule: Follow the grain! If you are painting vertical boards then your strokes should be vertical; horizontal boards horizontal strokes. Using the proper stroke will save you a lot of work trying to get the look of your subject and wood grain is a prime example.

Old wood is the most fun because you can add almost any color and it will still be right though the technique works for all types of wood you just need to be a bit more precise.

As with most of our first layer of paint, you want to start with a medium dark color and use the biggest brush you can for the area you are working on, this needs to be done quickly so it doesn’t get over worked. Like I said, you can use almost any color I used sienna, blue and purple as my base with a touch of white upon occasion and did most of my mixing on the canvas. To those colors I would add touches of everything I had on my palette. Overlap your strokes but try not to mix the colors together so much that they become one muddy color, you want to be able to see the individual colors. These colors represent old layers of paint, rust, dirt, grease, mold and anything else that might have happened to the old wood so you end up with something that doesn’t look freshly milled. Let the paint dry between layers.

The next layer is much the same but this time mix your sienna, blue, white and touch of purple to create a grey color on your palette, this will be your base for the lighter layers and it needs to be a shade or two lighter that what you have already. To this you will do just like you did before by adding other colors as you paint, this time however you will be using a dry brush which means when you rinse your brush dry it well and when you pick up your paint don’t pick up a lot or wipe some off before going to your canvas.

When you apply the paint you want to barely touch the canvas with your brush – it should still be the same brush btw – and you can wiggle it a little so it looks like saw cuts on the wood, just remember to follow the grain. You may add as may layers to your wood as you want, each time adding a bit more white to your base color and trying not to cover up all of your under painting, that is very important. It may take 4 or more layers to get the look of old wood that you want so don’t rush the process or you will be unhappy with the results.

After you have reached the point where you think your wood looks they way you want, now is the time to add the cracks and separations between the boards. If you have a liner, this is the time to get it out or you can use a small round brush but a liner will be faster.

On your palette mix a dark color by using sienna, blue and a touch of purple, this should make a very dark color. If you are using a liner you will need to add enough water so the paint is like ink, use this color to create the cracks, holes, and separate boards. This will take a bit of practice so you might want to have a separate canvas to test it out on.

When you have your cracks etc done, you can use the same brush to put a highlight around some of the cracks. Mix white with a touch of yellow, orange and/or sienna to get a warm sunshine color. Apply this to SOME of the lines and cracks to give it dimension.

You might have to play around with it a bit but once you get the hang of it you will want to put old wood in everything!

Our last class is Nov. 3rd so think about what you want to bring to class for critique.

Demo: Watercolor – Negative Painting

Last week we splashed paint to start this demo, I had an idea of where I wanted to go with it so I knew where I needed what colors but this can be done random and “find” the picture after you have done your splattering.

This week I had my drawing on so the first thing I did was to “negative paint” around my leaves. When you “negative paint” you are painting everything BUT the thing you are trying to bring out. Because in watercolor we want to leave our white or light areas, we use negative painting a lot, the more washes you put on an area around a lighter object the more that object will stand out. On the picture page you can see where I painted with a wash of purple and blue to started creating shadows behind my leaves. I can add leaves to the background by using negative painting to pull the out.

I also “positive painted” some of the leaves. That means I added color to the leaves to make their colors more intense.

In the water I use light washes of blue using the edge of my brush in long, horizontal, U-shaped strokes, working back into the shadows and painting around my rock.

Remember Nov 3rd will be our last class so have so have something to bring in for critique. This is a great time to get feedback and suggestions on how to improve your painting also to find out what you are doing right.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 4: “Rays” – Acrylic

I really don’t have a lot to add to last weeks write up. Finishing a painting becomes a personal thing, if you like the way it looks and you haven’t “finished” it with all the detail, it is perfectly okay to stop and call it good. I don’t want you to end up a clone of me, I want you to find your own style and do what feel right to you. This is art and it is very subjective and since you are doing this for yourself, you need to finish your paintings to suit your own needs as an artist, not mine.

That said, I finished up the regular canvas by doing more of the same from the previous week: Looking for places where I could highlight or shadow to get some depth and dimension into the rays. I saved the brightest highlights for the tips of the wings of the ray whose wings are coming out of the water, water distorts shape and color so to suggest that the tips are out of the water on a two dimensional surface, I need to visually convey that to the view by using more intense colors.

I also suggested eyes on the side of the head. Key word here is “suggested”. Most of the eyes are just loose backwards “C’s” with a dot quick and loose. I used a small detail brush with a dark color I had on my palette probably what I was using as shadows. I also used this same dark color to paint in the long whip-like tails on the rays.

On the water above the ray that is breaking the surface, I used white on a small brush to suggest some ripples trailing from his wing tips along with some darker blue next to the water highlights. When I thought I had finished what I needed to finish. I let it dry completely.

Once it was totally dry, I took my #12 bristle brush and some white with a little touch of blue in it and a lot of water to make a very thin wash. I wiped my brush before touching my canvas the with long, slightly wiggle-ly, horizontal strokes, I streaked this color across the entire canvas except over the wing tips sticking out of the water. This puts a slight shimmer on the water and again creates some depth.

I stepped back and assessed my painting and one thing struck me was the background did nothing to keep my eye in my painting. Since there are no rocks or weed or some other way to keep the eye from leaving the painting, I needed to do something so I choose to darken the corners a bit. I did this by using a wash again but this time I used blue with a touch of purple and a lot of water, wiped my brush out and with a circular motion, dry brushed this color into the corner areas of my background. This is a very light, dry brush stroke you just want to barely hit the surface of the canvas and work your way out from the corners until it blends in with the lighter center. Let it dry before adding more because it looks different when it dries than when it is wet.

After it had dried and I was satisfied that it was dark enough, I lightly went over the areas I just darkened with some of the white wash to put the shimmer back on the water. This is a very light, dry wash, it should not changed the value of the dark color underneath it just adds a bit of “wet” to the water.

Next week I will show how to finish our painting with a varnish. Last class is Nov.3rd and we will have a critique. Bring in anything you want whether it is your “masterpiece” or something you need help with and we will talk about it in class.

Watercolor Demo

Many beginning watercolor artists do not know about or know how to handle full sheets of watercolor paper so they buy their paper in tablets or blocks. While there is nothing wrong with tablets or blocks, buying paper in full sheets can save you money plus give you the option of painting bigger pictures without having to buy several different sizes of tablets or blocks which can be expensive especially if you don’t want to do larger paintings all the time, you can cut them down as well but that defeats the purpose of buying them in the first place.

Anyway, I brought in a half sheet of 300lb W/C paper to show how easy it is to make the size you want using full sheets of paper.

First off, I will explain weight of paper for those who don’t know. The weight of the paper is what a ream of paper weighs. A ream of paper is 500 sheets of 22” x 30” paper. If 500 sheets weights 300 lbs then it is 300 lb paper; 140 lbs equals 140 lb paper. In theory, the heavier paper is suppose to be more resistant to buckling than lighter weight papers and better to work on but each manufacturer makes their paper a bit different so if you can get sample pieces or one sheet at a time to test them to find the one you like best, it would be better than buying several sheet and find you don’t like the paper (been there done that).

Most full sheets of W/C paper have what are called “deckled edges”. Those are the rough, uncut edges that are usually found on most full sheets. Many w/c artists like these edges and work to preserve them along with using them when framing their w/c by “floating” their paintings on a mat rather than hiding the edges behind a mat. It is an option you might want to keep in mind.

Saving or creating these edges becomes a challenge when you want to cut down a full sheet of paper. You can buy yard sticks that have specially created “deckled” edges or you can use one of the methods I will explain here. First you fold the sheet to the size you want. I usually just start by folding it in half but if you wanted to make a 16 x 20 for instance, you will need to measure it first and fold your paper along the measure marks.

Once you have folded it, fold it back the other way. Do this several times to break down the fibers in the paper, then using a paper towel or a clean brush with clean water, wet the break in the fold on both sides of the paper. I showed how you can tear the paper apart carefully to create an edge similar to the deckle. You can also use a serrated knife to tear the edge if that is easier. This works well on both 300 lb and 140 lb paper.

The second demo I used a piece of the paper I just divided to show how to start a painting using splatter. I first lightly sprayed my paper with my water spray bottle. What I may not have made clear was the fact that I did not spray the whole surface. I want some dry areas on the paper so I only sprayed a few times and did not go over the paper with a brush to spread it out.

Next I picked up some very runny color on my 1” brush. This part is messy so you need to be where you can create a mess, maybe out doors or in the bath tub. I splattered and dripped color onto my paper. Color doesn’t really matter here, I do have an idea in mind so I was choosing colors that I thought I wanted in certain areas but if they got into areas I hadn’t planned, well that is a good thing for this project.

I left a lot of white showing and I also added salt and crumpled plastic wrap then let it dry. I will have a drawing on it next week that will incorporate leaves is some fashion, but this technique is not exclusive to leaves, it can be used to start all kinds of subject matter, I will bring examples next week.

Next week: Using negative painting to your advantage.

Our classes will be over on Nov. 3rd so start thinking of what you want to bring to our last class for critique. I will try to make it as painless as possible. :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 3: “Rays” – Acrylic

I went on Google and found out that the rays we are painting are called crown nose rays in case anyone is interested, they are found in Florida.

Anyway, we are getting down to the nitty gritty this week and we should finish “Rays” on Monday. We had started the highlighting process the previous week and we just continued that process this week.

It is hard to give step by step at this point because it is more a matter of “fine tuning” your painting and if you are doing it right, you go back and forth between adding more highlights and adding more shadows, all I can do here is to tell you what you need to be looking for as you bring this painting to a finish. This will apply to both the textured and the regular canvas just remember that if you are working on texture to make sure that you get all the pits and dips filled in so you don’t have any white showing.

As painters we try to create the illusion of 3 dimensions on two dimensional surfaces so we really need to use all the tools we have at our disposal, they are few but some times hard to master. The most important of these tools is “contrast”. Light against dark, dark against light. If you haven’t done so to this point, you need to set your painting up and stand back at least 6’ – 10’. Normal viewing distance is 6’ and trust me, you really can’t see what is going on with your painting when you are right on top of it so it is very important to get into the habit of standing back throughout the entire process to assess where your painting is and where it needs to go, this is especially true the closer you get to the finish of your painting, stand back an look at it.

Now that you are looking at your painting (I have mine about 6 feet away as I write this), here is what I want you to look for: Can you see separation between over-lapped rays? If not, look to see if the bottom ray is darker and bluer than the top ray, if not, that is one place to start. Squint at it to see where you are with your contrast, if it all tends to blend together, you need to punch up your contrast. Also look for differences in color, the deeper fish can be slightly darker and bluer or greener than those near the surface.

The color I used for my highlights was a mix of white, sienna with touches of blue and/or green and I scrubbed it on using a very dry brush technique. Acrylics dry darker so you might have to go over your highlights several times to get the look you want just don’t go over all of the area only the areas that will be the brightest.

The rays have a light underbelly that comes up around their leading edges and though it is much lighter than the highlight do not use pure white. Mix a bit of the highlight color in with your white to get a cream color for the deeper rays add a touch of blue or green. This color goes around the mouth and front of the wings and any turned up tips of their wings, avoid outlining the animals.

Shadow colors are a mix of sienna, purple, with touches of blue and or green though be careful with the green because mixed with the red of the sienna and purple it will turn very grey. If that happens add a bit more sienna and blue to add a bit of color back into it..

There are shadows along the sides of the body that can be created by leaving the under painting or only lightly dry brushing highlight over the area. If you do too much you can dry brush some of the shadow color back in. You can also darken the back part of the wings and any of the tips that are turned down just remember to dry brush and blend into your highlights.

We will finish the rays on Monday so if you want to start another painting remember to bring your material with you.

Next week: Varnishing a finished painting.

Week 3: “The Bull Fighter” – Watercolor

We only had a few tings to do to finish up our bull fighter so this coming week you will need to have something you want to paint as we are done with the project for this semester though I will do demos.

If you haven’t darkened up the hat, his hair and his legs, now is the time. Like I said before, this is an exception to my usual no tube black preference, if you have black or Payne’s grey feel free to use it here just don’t use it in your shadows or it will kill your color. I mixed my sienna with blue and purple to get my dark color.

After I finished darkening the black areas, I rinsed my brush (I was using my ½ angled shader) then mixed a shadow color for the red cape by mixing the red (what ever red you used for the cape) and a touch of blue and purple. It should be a deep burgundy color, don’t mix too much water in it at this time so it will remain dark and paint some of the darkest shadows on the cape which are up by his hand where he is holding the cape, under the yellow fold of the cape and a bit under his arm. Once you put this down, rinse your brush, dry it off and with just the damp brush, lightly blend the color down into the red of the cape so you don’t have a hard line, remember, this is material so highlights and shadows are soft not hard.

Now mix a bit of water into that color to slightly dilute the color to create the folds that are around his “backside” and a few coming down the front. Just like the darker folds, rinse your brush and blend these lighter folds out as well.

Highlights on the cape are easy because they are lifted out with a clean dry brush. Don’t get carried away with the lifting or it will looked like a striped cape maybe a light lift back where it flares out to separate the front from the back and maybe a bit off of one or two folds along his rear. You can also use this technique to lift a bit of highlight in the yellow areas just be sure to clean your brush well before you go into the light areas so you don’t put down a dark color instead of lifting a light color.

There is a shadow on the ground that is subtle but necessary to show that he is on the ground and not suspended in air. Use a touch of purple and blue with a lot of water to get a lavender color then starting at his feet where it will be the darkest apply this color and pull it our horizontally from his feet. Rinse your brush and with clean water, blend that color out to suggest a bit of shadow from him and the cape. Keep in mind that it needs to be darkest near him and fades out as it moves away from him.

Using this same color with maybe a bit more water to lighten it even more, create shadows on his shirt and cuffs. On his collar it will be mostly at the back because his head is casting a shadow and right next to the sleeve of his jacket and the under part of the cuff. Again – and get into the habit of this – rinse your brush when you put a color down and with a damp, clean brush blend it out.

The features on his face, I used a liner brush because it went to a fine point and I had a bit more control of it. Be sure that you have all the shadows on his face done and that they are dry before you start this or this step will bleed and blur. You can use that dark color you used on the hat and hair to suggest eyes and eye brows, a hit of a shadow under his nose as well as a suggestion of a mouth center line. Please! These are very subtle, keep a paper towel handy so if it seems too dark you can quickly pat it and take up some of the color. His face is too small for a lot of detail all we need to do is suggest the parts of his face the viewer will do the rest.

At this point put him up where you can stand back and look at him to see if there is anything glaringly missing from him but if you don’t see something don’t go making things up and fiddle with the picture until you have over worked it. If you are looking for things to do, you are finished!

I will do a demo on Monday but we are done with the project for this semester. If you need help with starting a painting on your own, bring in examples of what you want to do either from publications or your own photos and I will help you get started.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall 08 Week 2 Projects

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 2: “Rays” Acrylic

We started both the textured version and the regular canvas in much the same way, about the only difference is a bit of technique because of the texture so I will give general directions here for both but if I feel that there is something different between the two, I will make note of it.

After assessing my dry background I felt it needed a bit more sand “feel” before I moved on to the rays. Using a #10 bristle brush, I mixed burnt sienna and white with just a touch of blue to grey it but keep it on the warm side, using a very light dry brush stroke tried to create the feel of rippled sand under the water. This is a highlight don’t get carried away with this it is just a suggestion but it will give a bit more depth and dimension to you sand. Think ripples that move back and forth as the water washes over them. They are gentle shapes that move back and forth. If you want, you can also add some darker blue/greens in places to make it look like there are deeper pits in the sand. Do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with however, you need to get enough movement in the sand before you move on.

If you are working on the texture you want to just skim the very tops of the resin sand with this color, remember to keep your brush dry, too much paint or too much water in your paint will cause the application to be too solid especially if you tend to be a bit heavy handed the key here is “light and dry” and in a sense the same can be said if you are on a regular canvas, you’ve got to have a very light touch and a very dry brush so keep your paper towel handy, if you rinse your brush, make sure it is well dried before picking up more paint, when you’ve loaded it with color, wipe off the excess before you start to apply it to your painting.

Let your painting dry. If you are working on a regular canvas, find your drawing and/or reference material, you next step is to sketch the rays onto your canvas using the soft vine charcoal or a charcoal pencil. You don’t need to draw all the rays on if you are using a smaller canvas but you do want to fill up the space on your canvas with the rays so they don’t look like minnows in a pond just be careful to leave them some room for them to “swim” into at the front, in other words, don’t get them too close to the left edge. Remember if you put this in a frame, you will loose at least a ¼” all the way around, if your rays are too close their noses could be either “bumping” into the frame or cut off by it, this is good to remember regardless of what you are painting if even if you are painting on a wrapped canvas, you don’t want things swimming out of your picture.

Once you have your sketch on, blow the excess charcoal dust off your painting. It won’t hurt your paint but too much of it can change the color a bit though since this is an under painting it isn’t critical but it is a good habit to get into. I used the same colors on both the textured and regular canvas so again, what I write here goes for both.

I mixed sienna with a touch of blue and purple and a little touch of white. This color should be fairly dark however, if your background is dark – and I noticed that many had backgrounds darker than mine which is okay just means they are in deeper water – you want to make the rays just a shade or two lighter than your back ground, if your background is lighter like mine the reverse is true the rays should be a shad or two darker. Remember we work light against dark and dark against light. Just don’t get it too light or you will have no place to go with your shading.

This color is under painting for the rays so when I was putting it on my canvases I wasn’t really worried about the individual rays, I just wanted to get my canvas covered. If you are working on the texture be sure to get all sides of the rays covered because you are working on a 3D surface and be sure to get all the white covered so you don’t have halos around your rays, I don’t think they are that saintly J.

I stitched to a # 6 bristle brush and was scrubbing the color on but was a bit more careful to follow the shape of my rays especially along the body, I tried to form my brush strokes to the shape of the ray and was less exacting in the wings. On the edges of the rays you might want to start by placing the flat edge along the outline of the ray and pull in, this will keep your edges soft. The important part of this step is to get the rays covered.

I let the under painting dry on the rays before I started the next step. If your paint hasn’t completely dried you can end up picking up more paint than you put down and ruin the density of the paint so let it dry.

Once it is dry we can now start defining the shapes of the individual rays. Using the same mixture of paint, add more white and a touch of sienna. You may still need little touches of blue or purple but you want this color to be a warm grey brown color it should be a shade or two lighter than what you just put on you will be using the dry brush technique so remember to dry your brush after rinsing it and wipe it out after you pick up paint.

Dry brush this color along the body and front parts of their wings. You may have to look at the picture page to see what I’m talking about. Don’t cover up all of your under painting this becomes some of the shadows in the bodies of the rays. If you have layers of rays or if you want to show that some are deeper than others you can add more blue and/or green to this color so it is just a bit darker than the one above it and/or you can add more white – just a touch, this isn’t the final highlight – and more sienna to make the top rays look like they are closer to the surface. This is just the start of the highlighting process so don’t try to do it all at once, you need the layers.

If you are working on the texture it is almost the same just be sure to fill in any holes with color and get the edges. Next week we do more highlighting and maybe finish the Rays.

As a side note, I received an e-mail from Golden’s paints announcing that they have come up with an acrylic paint they call “Open”. It is a new type of acrylic paint that is very slow drying – up to an hour they say – and if you are more of an oil painter, you might want to check out this new paint the link to the article is:

Week 2: The Bull Fighter – Watercolor

I started out working on the details of my bull fighter
before I got into the cape because once we work on the cape most of the paper will be wet for quite a while and I don’t want to accidentally get hand prints in the red or drag red into my light areas, this way I can get a lot of work done before I have to let it dry.

I need to put shadows into the body and sleeves of the jacket. Since I’m am doing my jacket in a green color I don’t want to use purple to make the shadow color, remember that purple has red in it and red and green are complimentary colors and they tend to cancel each other out making a kind of muddy color, I want the color to still look green so instead of the purple I will use the blue to darken the green and less water so I don’t dilute it too much. The light is coming from the front of the bull fighter so his left side will be the lightest.

I used my angled shader but if you don’t have one you can start by using a small round brush. There is fringe along the edge of the capelet so you will need something you can do detail with so either the tip of the angle brush or a small round will do the job. You create the fringe by negative painting the fringe. What that means is you will be painting the dark shadows “under” the fringe that shows up “in-between” the strands of the fringe. I have posted an example on the picture page so you can see in detail what I am talking about (see link above).

When I have painted the fringe shadow area on the body of the jacket I picked up more of my dark green/blue mixture and painted the shadows on the side of the body next to the arm. It should be pretty dark as the material goes behind the arm and as it comes to the front of the jacket, add a little more water to make it lighter though you want to increase the intensity of the color to give it a richness so not too much water. If you want to make it look like it might be velvet pat the color on instead of brushing it on, this will give it some texture. Add little bits of this dark color around the edges of the brocade trim of the jacket just remember to blend out the color as it moves away from the brocade.

The shadows of the sleeve were done in much the same way starting under the fringe but instead of the green I added a touch of purple to the skin color to give me a shadow color for the yellow. The skin color is a mix of crimson, (if you have it) pthalo yellow green, if you don’t, use sap green and a touch of yellow. Again, you will need to use a small point to negatively paint the fringe. Once away from the fringe use either the whole brush (angled brush) or switch to a larger brush and paint this color down the back side of the sleeve, rinse your brush and with just water, blend it around to the front of the sleeve.

I also used this color to do the inside of his jacket and the shadow on the underside of the capelet. You can also use this color to make some creases in the yellow part of the big cape just remember to blend them out with plain water to soften them.

Since you have that skin color mixed, use some of it to darken the shadows on the face and hands. This will go on the right side of his head, along the forehead next to the cap, where his eyes are, the right side of the nose and remember, we are just suggesting facial features (see example on picture page) he is way too small for detail. Also ad a bit of this to the back of his hand then bleed it out with clear water.

The detail on the sleeves and brocade look complicated but really they are not, all they are, are shapes suggesting patterns in the material. You will use that dark green shadow color for some of the shapes and a watered down version for the rest of the shapes. These are just lines, curves and dots of different degrees of value that when viewed as a whole (this is key) will look like an intricate pattern in the material. Look at the example. It may appear that I did a lot of work but really, I didn’t, I just wanted to suggest detail not actually do it.

Now we are into the red cape, be sure that your jacket and face are dry before you start this process or you could run into problems, also the yellow part of the cape if you worked on it.

If you want, you can wet the red part of the cape with water first, if you do, take the water out beyond the end of the cape but not all the way to the edge of the paper, you want that part dry. Use a big brush if you have it at least a half inch or bigger. You want to cover this area quickly so you can do everything you need to before it starts to dry.

Load your brush well with your napthol (Windsor or Grumbacher) red, starting on the cape that is around the bull fighter paint this areas and work your way to the end of the cape. This color should be very intense. Once you have covered all of the cape, you might want to turn the painting upside down before the next color is added.

Rinse your brush and pick up your cad orange. You need to load your brush with color again because it will be very hard to add color later. Apply this color just inside the back edge of the cape. Your brush should be literally dripping with water and color as you mix the orange into the red and the red needs to still be wet. You want these colors to run so if you are working flat, prop up the back of your painting with something at least 4” or more. Paint the orange around the end of the cape and up to the body of the bull fighter then out into the empty space about a brush width. Rinse your brush and do a similar thing with your brush dripping with yellow paint at just the margin between the orange and the dry white paper. Add enough water with color so the paint will drip. Lift and tilt the paper, add touches of water to get the drips going. If a drip runs across your bull fighter, keep a paper towel handy and quickly wipe it away. As long as he is dry, you should be able to get most of it off problems occur when the drip runs through a damp area.

In the front of the fighter, pick up some more of your orange with lots of water. You may want to turn your paper so the paint will run away from him and from about his head down, paint right along the edges of his body down just past the yellow part of the cape. Rinse your brush pick up yellow and add it to the outside edge of the orange and let it run, you want drips.

If you want and if your cape is still wet, you can add a little salt right where the orange and the red come together. Clean up any runs across your guy and let this dry.

Next week we will do a few more details but he should be done. Start looking for your own projects to finish the off semester.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Acrylic and Watercolor Fall 08

Fall ’08 Art Projects

Week 1 – Acrylic “Rays”

Optional Texture Version

I suppose that technically for this version it is week 2 however, since those of you who are doing this version just got started on it, I’m going to lump it in with week 1.

If you are doing the textured version you need to finish up putting on the texture because the texture takes several hours to dry, preferable leave it at least over night, because it needs to be completely dry before you start working on it or you run the risk of having it come off.

If you added color to the sand resin, you should have a very dark blue/green sand area. If you didn’t add color, your first step it to under paint the sand area with blue (I used ultra marine blue and unless specified, when I refer to blue I’m referring to the ultra marine), sap and/or Hooker’s green and throw in touches of burnt sienna, purple, orange, red, white, yellow…What ever you have on your palette to give some variety to your sand area, blend it in a bit so it doesn’t stand out but it is okay for there to be variations in your color, actually those variations create interest in your painting so learn to use them to your advantage. The end result should be a dark, mottled blue/green color to your sand and make sure it is covered well, no canvas showing through. Remember, this is only if you didn’t add color to the texture when you put it on your canvas.

If you did add color or once your background sand area is dry the next step it to start the highlighting process. We need to get the sand close to done before we start on the rays the reason being, we don’t need to worry about painting around them, we can just paint over them and not worry about ruining all our hard work.

Always use the largest brush you feel comfortable with that will work with the size canvas you are using, a #10 bristle is what I used and is a good size to use at this point even if you are on a smaller canvas. We need to get the canvas covered quickly and we don’t want to think too much about what we are doing, over-thinking at this point can do more harm than good, the sand isn’t our subject we just need to suggest it. Be quick, to fiddle and it will be okay.

The main color I used for this step was blue mixed with white, I used mostly titanium white but gesso will work as well. I wanted a much lighter color. As I went along, I picked up different colors just like I did in the under painting to add variety. The stroke I used is called “Dry Brush”, it is a very useful stroke to know when working with acrylics, it lets you blend into areas that have dried, add texture and highlights, add dust or mist, it is the only way we have to blend or soften when out paint has dried. Dry brush isn’t hard to do but it does take a little practice and a very light touch.

The first step is to load your brush with color, scrape off the excess on your palette so there are no big lumps and before you go to your canvas, wipe your brush out in a paper towel, you want very little paint on your brush. Using the side of your brush in a scrubbing or scumbling motion, very lightly apply the paint to your canvas. Scumbling is just a mix of strokes going every which way, this is a painting not a wall so we don’t have to be neat about what we are doing. If you have done the stroke correctly, mostly the tops of the resin sand should be getting color, you should be able to see your under painting, if not you either have too much paint on your brush or are pressing too hard or both, it’s okay in spots to have a bit more solid color, it won’t hurt anything just try to lighten your pressure so you can see the under painting. Remember to vary your colors and to add white. Keep the corners darker to help focus the viewer to the center of your painting and don’t worry if you go over all or part of your rays, it is why we are leaving them along at this point.

Acrylics dry darker so we may need to do a bit more highlighting on the sand before moving on to the rays but for this week, this is where I stopped. Be sure that your highlight color is enough to show that it is highlight, this is shallow sand not deep ocean so it will be getting some light.

Next week we will finish any highlighting of the sand and start on the rays.

The non textured version starts out with the under painting of the sand. You don’t need to draw in your rays just yet because we need to get our sand area established first. It is a good idea to start out with the thing furthest away and work your way forward to you don’t have to paint around your subjects, that can leave lines and make your painting look like it has been cut and pasted. For this painting the thing furthest away is the sand that the rays are swimming over so that is where we start.

To prepare my canvas I first sprayed it with a light mist from my water spray bottle, this helps to spread the gesso which is the next step. Still using my #10 bristle brush I put on a light coat of gesso over the whole canvas. It doesn’t take much but it does allow the paint to go on easier and keeps it workable longer because gesso dries slower. Keep in mind that gesso is white so it will lighten the colors you mix it with so don’t put on a heavy layer of it for this painting.

You can rinse your brush if you want or just wipe out the excess gesso before you pick up the colors you will use for the background. While the gesso is still wet, using a scumbling stroke blend your blue and greens into the gesso adding other colors as you go. Just like in the textured version, you want a mostly blue/green mottled background. You also want to use enough color to give you a medium dark color, remember the gesso will lighten your color so add enough to make it darker. It doesn’t need to be as dark as the textured version but it does need to be dark enough so we have some where to go with our highlights or shadows. Keep the corners darker, don’t paint it like a wall and once your canvas is covered, let it dry completely. It may take 20 – 30 minutes to dry because of the gesso.

If your paint seems to be coming up more than going down, your painting may have dried too much so you will have to let it dry completely before finishing. If you have to stop, when you resume you can use the same colors with a touch of with to cover up any glaring canvas showing thru or you can just cover it up with the next step. Don’t panic, you can fix just about anything in acrylic.

After your background is completely dry, you are going to do a similar thing that was used in the textured version at this step, which is using dry brush. Again the key to doing good dry brush is very little paint on your brush – keep a paper towel handy – and a light touch. I used the same brush and the same technique, though I used a mostly circular motion lightly over the surface. I used white with my blue and greens and added almost all the other colors on my palette in small amounts, you just need to keep it lighter than the background and soften any hard strokes you have in your under painting. When you are done, you should have a soft, blended, mottled background with some of the under painting showing through.

Next week I may do some more highlighting in the sand area before starting the rays then will sketch in my design and start the under painting for the rays.

Week 1: “Bull Fighter” Watercolor

This first stage is just the under painting for this painting, we will be adding more color to intensify and deepen the colors, don’t worry about getting the color “right” the first time in watercolor we work from light to dark so we don’t want to get too dark too soon.

I used a ¾” angle brush to start off painting the cape. It is best to use the biggest brush you can use in a situation especially when you have large areas that need to be covered quickly. I painted this area using a wet on dry technique however, in retrospect, if you have problems painting such a large area and getting it covered quickly, you can pre-wet the area by using clean water and painting the area with water then add the color, that will allow you to cover the area with out worrying about parts of it drying before you can get the whole thing covered. It will give you a smoother blend and help the paint spread faster. When I was painting wet on to dry (my brush was very wet with paint and water the paper was dry), I used a lot of water to move the paint on the paper and didn’t waste much time in any one area. When I got near the end of the cape, I rinsed my brush and with just water bled the paint out until it virtually disappeared. Rinse your brush often and don’t go back into an area with a lot of color or you will find that you are just dragging the color along and not fading it out. This color will be a bit pale but remember, this is just under painting. Watercolor dries lighter.

One of the tricks to painting without stopping every time you put down a color in watercolor is to work in non-adjacent areas, so from the cape, I went to the body of the jacket. The color I leave up to you. In my original I went with a turquoise blue for the class project I’m going with green, the technique will be the same no matter what color you use so if you have a favorite use it or a color you like better than green.

I switched to a smaller angle brush (1/2”) and also for demonstration purposes used a round brush. There is fringe at the bottom of the caplet around his shoulders, to suggest the fringe I negatively painted the fringe. What that means is by using the pointed end of my angle brush I painted little hash marks that would be the green showing between the strands of fringe, I will paint the fringe after the green has dried. I then finished under painting the green part of the jacket with sap green. The tie was painted with the sap green but I added a bit of yellow to it to change the color just a bit. This stage will look a bit flat, dimension will come a bit later.

The hat, hair and pants can be painted next. You won’t hear me say this often but if you have black or Payne’s Grey you can use it here, if you don’t have either of those, to get a dark color that will look black use blue with burnt sienna and a touch of purple. Be careful when using the purple a little will go a long way, this color should be mostly the blue and sienna or if you have another dark brown you can mix that with blue for a dark color. The more water you add the lighter it will become so go easy on the water though you can and should be a bit on the grey side so you can darken it later.

Before you paint in the legs and shoes, feel the cape with the back of your hand to see if it is dry. If it is cool to the touch it is still wet and should be avoided until it is completely dry. Leave this color on you palette so you can use it later.

To under paint the face, you need to mix a couple of unlikely colors together: Alizarin crimson and – if you have it – pthalo yellow green. If you don’t have the pthalo YG use sap green with a touch of cad yellow light. I know it sounds strange, but this is a great base color for most skin types. If it looks too sallow, add a bit more crimson you want this wash pretty light so add water. Apply this color to the face and if the cape is dry, to the hand. While it is still damp (it shouldn’t be real wet), use a dilute solution of crimson and just touch the areas where the cheeks and mouth will be also where the fingers and palms would be on his hands. If you look at most people you will see that these areas have a bit of pink color to them, just go lightly we can add more later if we need it.

Finally we have the yellow of the jacket. Yellow is the only color that really can’t get darker in value, it can become more intense in color but straight out of the tube is as dark as it will ever be. We want this color to be fairly intense not pale so use more paint than water to paint the areas of yellow. It won’t hurt the green under the fringe if you paint over it with the yellow; we are going to make the green darker there anyway.

Double check to see if you have everything except his shirt under painted and that is where we stopped for the day.

Next week we will add more color and detail. Any questions between now and then my e-mail is

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall Art Projects '08

Acrylic Fall ’08 Project

“Rays” alternative beginning. To see project pictures use this link:

The project for this semester will have two variations: One with texture and one without. It is not necessary to go out and buy texture mediums if you don’t think you will ever use them again, I just want to show the class that there are a lot of alternatives out there that can be fun both literally and figuratively to give a different dimension to your painting, this is only an option, I will be doing a demo in a more “traditional” style for those who don’t want to venture into unknown territory.

There are a lot of ways to create texture in your painting from using the heavy bodied paints that are now available to all the different modeling pastes, and various things like sand and chunks of crushed rock or glass, if it can be suspended into a medium, it seems it is available. Artists have been making their own textures in much the same way, the pre-made versions are a time saver.

Because of the time it takes for the texture medium to dry, I wanted to start my painting on the first day. The two textures I used to start the painting were light modeling paste and resin sand. Both can be mixed with water and paint to get the desired consistency and can be applied to the canvas with palette knives, brushes or fingers, you may need to experiment to see what works best for you.

I started out by drawing my rays on my canvas with my soft vine charcoal. The charcoal lets me change or correct my drawing with just a wet paper towel and it will not interfere with the paint or the texture mediums.

Once I had my drawing the way I wanted, using my palette knife to scoop out about a heaping tablespoon of the texture, I mixed the resin sand texture with ultra marine blue and Hooker’s green as my base color, it will be very dark, I also added white and yellow to my palette to have available to change the color in places if I wanted.

Using the palette knife and picking up big gobs (technical term) of my base mixture I began to apply it to my canvas avoiding the area where my rays will be. I wanted to get the canvas well covered with this dark color and texture, I also wanted to change the color in places so occasionally I would pick up small amounts of white or yellow, more blue or green to give the background sand some variation which will give it more interest. This is not the final application of paint this is just the under painting. Under painting is like the foundation of your painting and it needs to be strong so you can build on it.

In some of the areas around the rays where I needed more control, I switched to a flat bristle brush. The whole background can be done with a brush, just be sure you are using a bristle brush because the resin sand is very hard on your brushes.

When I was done with the sand area, I used the light modeling paste to build up my rays. The resin sand created a feeling of depth, if I didn’t put something on the rays to give them some dimension, they would look like they were swimming in the sand not the water, so the modeling paste lifts them out of the sand. If I were doing this at home, I would have let the resin sand dry completely before applying the modeling paste to the rays to avoid mixing the two together, it doesn’t hurt to mix them I just don’t want my rays to have warts. Don’t worry if you mix the modeling paste with some of the color of the sand, it is not going to hurt the final painting, we are going to paint over all of this a few times as we build our painting. I let this dry for a couple of days – it was still wet in a few places 3 hours after class depending on how thick it was – and I applied more modeling paste to give my rays even more dimension. I tried to show which rays were closer to the surface by making the paste thicker and those that were deeper I left the original paste I did in class. This is where I will leave it until we resume class on Monday.

Remember, this is just an option; I will start the other traditional one in class.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fall Projects 08

I hope that everyone has had a nice break and that you have signed up for the classes you want. Remember that you need to sing up before Wednesday so any classes you want to take don't get closed.

If you are new to my classes, check the archives and you will find a list of materials needed for the classes, many things are basic to both classes but I have noted the differences between watercolor and acrylic equipment. I will go over supplies the first day so if you have any questions or if you have some equipment already and want to know if it is okay we can discuss it at that time.

I have posted the drawing for the class projects on the picture page. (click on the Fall Projects 08 above or click here to go to the picture page:

Because I have used reference photos I took from newspapers and magazines I cannot post the reference photos on the picture page. The drawing should be all that you need and I will have the photos I used available in class, but we are going to be "doing our own thing" for the most part not a rendering of the photos. Trust me :-)

If you have any questions you can e-mail me at I look forward to seeing all of you in about a week.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Classes Starting

I just want to remind everyone that Fall classes will start on the 15th of September, if you want to sign up for a class, be sure to do it ASAP so that your class doesn't close because they will close under-filled classes usually the Wednesday before the semester starts, so don't wait or it could be too late!

I will post the new projects in a couple of days so check the picture page. If you want to see the photos of past projects be sure to check the albums. Any questions you can e-mail me at:

See ya soon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 6 Final Touches

Acrylic and Watercolor classes:
This is for both classes we only have two weeks left for this semester and I would like to have a critique on our last day. If you have any paintings you have you want to bring in for critique whether they are ones you have done in class or home or from years ago and just want some help or suggestions, a critique is a good place to find out what you have done right and where you need to make some improvements. It is a place where someone else might be able to see what is bugging you but you can’t see it. You learn more from paintings with problems than the ones you like so please bring in things to share, these classes are very supportive and good for the ego.

Acrylic Project Final Touches

Sorry I didn’t get a chance to update the class blog while on my trip, best laid plans and all. Haven’t been on a road trip for some time and didn’t remember the drive being so tiring ;-) Anyway, this week’s demo was just a continuation of what I was doing before I left on my trip so what I will mention here will apply to the previous lesson.

Basically, we are down to nit-picky things as we finish up and a lot of this process is going to be up to your personal tastes: You can go with simple or detailed I tend to be in the middle someplace but that’s me, you have to decide what works best for you. Learning to stop is sometimes the hardest lesson, but it is a critical one.

First, stand back and look at your painting. Do you have all the elements in that you want? Things like the lighthouse, trees on the bluff, rocks in the water or on the shore? If you have everything you want in your painting, you need to decide where to put your highlights, for this it helps to look at your painting through squinted eyes. What this does is equalize the values of your painting so you can see if the important elements stand out from the rest of your painting. For instance, when you are squinting at your painting do the cliffs stand out from the background water? If not, this is a good place to start your highlighting.

In my painting I wanted the viewer to get a sense of early evening light that is rich and warm when I put on my highlights. I used orange with touches of yellow and white even a bit of red now and then to give it that warm glow. I applied the color to the right, outside parts of the flutes created by the erosion because that is where the sun is most likely to hit the cliffs. I did work the color over a little bit more in some spots and less in others to give form to the rocks and dirt that make up the cliffs but I didn’t go back into my shadows I need those darks to show the lights. Notice how bright the edges of the flutes look when they are next to a dark shadow, even those which aren’t as bright as the very end of the cliffs, this is how you can create depth in your painting by playing light against dark. Acrylics dry darker so you may need to touch up the highlights again in spots just remember to leave a bit of your previous application showing.

I painted the trees on the top of the cliff before I left as well as highlighted the grass on the cliffs, the general trees are easy because the are created by just lightly stippling (tapping straight on with a bristle brush) a tree shape with a dark color (I used green, blue and purple), the palms take a bit more time, but they are easy if you don’t panic. All these things are so far in the distance you only need to show a basic shape and your viewer will know what you are trying to say so don’t worry about the palms being perfect because it really doesn’t matter, you just need to be close.

I used a #4 flat sable brush, the sable will give you a bit more control. First I mixed a dark color, it doesn’t matter what dark color because these trees are in shadow, I used the mix above with maybe a touch of sienna. Drag your brush through your paint to not only load it, but the bring the end to a flat edge, this is important for your first step of your palm. Using this flat edge in a vertical position, lightly touch your canvas with the whole edge to create the trunk of the palm starting at the base. You may need to lightly touch it again to make it tall enough just remember that this is a delicate procedure, don’t get too heavy handed.

After you have your trunk in, reload you brush and re-sharpen the edge. Place the whole edge of the brush at the top of the trunk and with a quick, light “flick”, move your brush down. You might want to try this on a separate canvas or piece of paper before you try it on your picture just remember that these are quick short moves. Palm fronds radiate out from the trunk so start the rest of your fronds in the same place don’t waste time fiddling with this or it will look over worked. Also, look at the reference pict and notice that some of the palms overlap, this is a good element for your picture.

To highlight the grass on the top of the cliffs use a small bristle brush with a mix of yellow with a touch of sap green tapping the end of the brush to mix the color and to spread the bristles just a bit. Again, you need to use a light touch so only little dabs of this colors comes off your brush and you will use it straight on just barely touching the canvas to highlight the top edges of the grass.

I highlighted the lighthouse with white with a tiny touch of yellow along the right side and dry brushing back into the shadows to create a round look. You may need to do this a couple times to get it bright enough. I also added some windows with some dark color and highlighted the top with yellow and orange. Don’t forget to highlight the thing at the end of the cliffs with a bit of your white mixture.

The rocks along the shore should be done quickly as well. I say this so you don’t over think this process which translates into over working your painting; the rocks are too far away to have much detail it just needs to look like a pile of rocks. I used my #4 flat sable brush and my toothbrush to make my rocks and their highlights.

You might want to practice with the toothbrush before you use it on your canvas because it can get messy, also, you might want to have a paper towel in your hand to protect areas you don’t want splattered or to wipe away stray spots.

You can use any and all of your colors in this area with your toothbrush if you want. I used several different colors like orange, red and yellow as well as a couple shades of grey (blue, sienna, white and a touch of purple) and splattered the rocky area. Because you have to use a lot of water to make the paint come off the toothbrush even the bright colors dull down but they do add some color into a dull area.

Mix the color you are going to use with your toothbrush with a lot of water then turn the bristles down and next to your area you want to splatter, and with your thumb, rack across the bristles to splatter. It is messy but effective. Try it on your scrap canvas first.

For the closer rocks and to make some of the rocks bigger used the sable brush. A sable gives you a smoother look and a bit more control over your paint. One thing to avoid is making these rocks too bright, which is what I did prior to my trip, when I worked on it again, I toned down the highlights, did some more splattering and I liked it a lot better.

Distant rocks are just dashes, dibs and dabs to represent the different sizes and shapes of the rocks, learn to do this quickly whether it is the under painting or the highlights and shadows and your rocks will look more natural. Best advice here is to keep the highlight colors to the top right and shadows to the left and ground areas. You don’t need to go all the way around to the end of the cliffs because of the distance, just some of the rocks nearest the foreground.

The foreground bushes and grasses where done with a #10 bristle brush and brush mixing the colors on the canvas using my greens, orange, yellow, sienna, blue purple…. You get the idea, I just used the brush end into the canvas using it fairly hard at times except when I got to the top edges I lightened the pressure to create broken dots that represent leaves or groups of leaves, I will do more of that when I highlight, and I also at times just flicked the brush up to suggest grasses. I will add more detail when I highlight. I took these weeds almost all the way across my canvas to suggest the area where the viewer is standing.

To highlight the plants on the distant cliff I used yellow with touches of green and orange mixing slightly on the palette by smashing the bristle brush straight up and down to spread the bristles, then just tapping the splayed end in the areas I wanted some highlight. You don’t need to go over all of the bushes and don’t loose your dark areas, the light is coming in from the right and is hitting the tops of the plants, that is all you need to suggest.

When your foreground is dry, using the same technique you just used on the distant plants, highlight your foreground. Think about what you are painting, these are weeds, they grow in uneven clumps there may be some grass growing in between them, there may be new growth or there may be dead plants so don’t be afraid to throw some oranges, yellows, sienna or reds in there in their pure form. Remember to flick your brush as well as tapping it and keep these brighter colors to the top right, remember this is highlight.

The rest of this is just some fine tuning you may want to do to finish your painting though, if you want, you can stop once you have highlighted your foreground, this is how I finished mine.

In the foreground I took my small round sable with yellow and a very small amount of green and suggested leaves on some of the top most plants. These are just quick little dots not labored leaves, they are only suggestions. Notice on the left how I used the dark in the background and the light color on in the foreground – light against dark. With my #3 liner I used several colors such as a grey to make the suggestion of some twigs scattered in the bushes also to create grasses using yellows and oranges.

Even though the P.V. lighthouse doesn’t use its light any more, I did suggest a light with a bit of yellow and white and quick straight dry brush strokes starting at the light house and fading out. You don’t need to do this if you don’t want to. I also took my small brush and using straight red, white and blue, suggested the flag that flies there and a bit of sienna and purple for the pole that holds it and I think I’m done! I will live with this for a while before finishing it with varnish, just in case I see something else I need to do, but I need to say enough and just quit. You can nit pick a painting to death and ruin what you had so stop before you think you are done, leave it for a couple days and look at it again, it will probably be fine. Sign it, varnish it and put it in a frame.

You are on your own next week though I might show how to apply the varnish to this painting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer '08 Week 4

Week 4: Acrylic Project – P.V Lighthouse on Cliffs

I started the demo by adding a suggestion of a light source behind the right hand side of the island. Using a flat bristle brush with white and little touches of yellow and orange I first loaded my brush then wiped out most of the paint. This has to be very dry brush to get the effect correct so be sure to wipe your brush before going to the canvas also, start out with a very light touch as the paint comes off the brush you can press harder to find more paint but start out using very little pressure on your brush.

Since light beams are straight, I picked a central point where I wanted to suggest the light was coming from and pulled “rays” from that point. This helped to show where the sun might be but it also softened the end of the island and the horizon line of the water. I also took some of that color and danced it down the water from the light source. I may do more of that later.

Looking at my reference picture, I took my dark mix – blue, sienna and purple - and created the rocks in the water. I varied the size and shape of the rocks and tried to make them as random as possible I didn’t want to create what Jerry Yarnell calls a “herd of turtles” which is extremely easy to do if you aren’t careful. Most of my strokes were not much more than dashes or dots, some were longer or taller; there were groups and singles a lot of over lapping rocks especially on or near the shore. Look at the picture and see how the rocks near the water and in the water are scattered, the more the merrier by the shore then fewer as the go into the water until all you see are the tops of big ones. Be sure to make rocks up on the shore as well. These are the wet rocks that might be getting spray from breaking waves so they will be dark.

Once the rocks are in you can start adding some spray and foam, this will be dry brush again and if you want you can use a smaller – 4 or 6 – bristle brush starting with white (I used gesso) with either some of the mud on your palette or a touch of blue and sienna to grey the color, you want a dirty white color for the under painting. Wipe out most of the paint and with small circular strokes base in some spray hitting some of the rocks especially the larger ones but don’t do what I did and get carried away (I will have to fix it next time). Keep in mind the direction the waves are coming from, the splashes and sprays will be at the back or the rocks where the waves first hit, not the front of the rocks.

With that same dirty white color, dry brush some foam in around some to the shore rocks. Look at your reference photo for suggestions where to place the foam.

Add some touches of blue and/or green to your dirty white so you get a light color, again with a dry brush along the bottom edge of all the rocks in the water using the long “U” type stroke, straighten out the bottom edge of your rocks, you can even pull this color up along some of the sides of the rocks – don’t get carried away – so it looks like the water is piling up against the rocks. This is very effective around the rocks that are near the shore.

I needed to put a highlight on my rocks before I did any more work on the spray. This color needs to be dark because the rocks are wet but just a bit lighter to help show the form of the rocks. I used mostly sienna with just touches of blue and purple and even a little white or occasional touch of orange. Just like I did with the underlying rocks, the highlights are just quick little smudges and dots, keeping in mind the light is coming from the right. These are quick strokes, not labored ones, don’t get out your one haired brushes and try to paint every grain of sand, it isn’t necessary and will do more harm than good.

To suggest some waves in the foreground I used a darker water color in the “trough” and added white to make a lighter color at the “crest” of the waves. A series of waves from the side look a bit like a tilde (~) the crest is going to be in the light and the trough is going to be in shadow. Remember that the waves are following the shape of the land under the water so will curve depending on the shape of the bay. Curves are also better visually so don’t have your wave line come straight down or your water will look like it is standing on end. Remember as well to keep your brush strokes parallel to the bottom of the canvas using the “U” stroke so you water still looks like water: Regular “U” shapes for the trough and inverted “U” shapes for the crest. The more pronounced these shapes the rougher your ocean will look, I kept mine fairly flat to suggest a calmer sea.

If you want to create an “eye” to a wave where it might be breaking, use a little bit of yellow and white, maybe a touch of green and right next to the foam of your breaking wave, dry brush in this color using little circles and working your way out just a little. Use your finger to blend the edges into the surrounding water. Repeat if necessary.

You can highlight the foam a bit now, or you can wait until the end, it doesn’t really matter, if you do highlight use a smaller bristle brush with white and a very tiny amount of yellow to warm it up a little. This color should still look white but it will have a warmer glow. Load your brush by tapping it straight down on your palette, this accomplishes a couple things: It loads your brush and it separates the bristles into a more random pattern, a good thing.

The stroke you will use is called “stippling”, you might want to test out this technique on your palette or piece of paper because it you do it too hard – like crushing a bug – you will not get the desired effect. This is a very light, gentle touching of the canvas, you only want the very ends of the bristles to touch so you see the individual dots left by the bristles, it you do this with too much force, you will defeat you purpose which is highlighting the foam. Again, look where your light source is and think about where the light will hit your foam. It will hit the top and backs of the foam but not the front or the underside. Apply accordingly.

Finish up your rocks near the water and your water. Check your values in your water, the distance should be softer and greyer near the foreground it should be more intense in color, deeper water is bluer and darker water near the shore is lighter in color. See that your rocks appear to be in the water and not floating on top.

Next week: Highlights on the cliffs, palms around the lighthouse, maybe finish up.

Week 4: Watercolor Project – Merging Piers

This week I finished the “Merging Piers” project. There really wasn’t a lot left to do except the water and looking for places I could intensify shadows or colors or places that I missed putting some detail. The purpose of this lesson was to show you that even if you have a complicated scene, you can paint large areas with a series of neutral washes to increase the density of your subject creating highlights and shadows long before you get into detail. It is the contrast that between light and dark that gives shape and form to your subject matter the detail and color are like the frosting the highlights and shadows are the cake, without the cake, your details will look flat and cartoon-ish and that is only good if you are actually doing cartoons.

In the water I used several different colors working them interchangeably so it doesn’t matter what color you use or what color is dominant it is the stroke here that matters most. I used any of the blues I had on my palette and I have several plus a “cool” palette with blues I don’t normally use, I also used most of the greens I had on my palette, like I said, it really doesn’t matter choose colors you like and those are the right ones to use.

I always use the largest brush I can use in this case I was using my ½” brush, loading it with paint with some water but not dripping and using long overlapping “U” strokes and using mostly the end of my brush, added color to my water. I kept it darker under the piers and lighter as it got to the middle. When I noticed that the paper had become wet enough that my strokes were blending together rather then holding their form, I let the water dry then repeated this step until the water was the intensity I wanted. You want to have movement in your water so don’t paint it solid, let there be brush stokes and different colors playing against each other and keep some light in the center between the piers.

Some finishing details on the building included adding suggestions of shingles to Tony’s and some shadows to the ridges of the roof. Using a slightly darker color that is already there and my small – ¼” brush – and just touching it to the roof, I suggested some roofing shingles but I didn’t paint in everyone I saw. Mixing a shadow color – blue, purple and sienna - and water, I lined the ribs on Tony’s roof, then rinsed my brush and with a clean damp brush ran it along the outside edge of the shadow to soften it.

Using this same shadow color I also deepened shadows under roof eves, added windows by negative painting the frames (you are painting the window panes), deepening the darks in some of the windows and using the very end of the brush with the shadow color touched the edges of the posts that hold the rails on both sides of the pier. Adding a bit of water, I looked for a few places where there may be a shadow cast from a building or object next to it such as the sky lights on the roof on the right, there is a bit of a shadow cast on that same roof from the building next to it and there is a cast shadow on the other side where that one part sticks out from the rest.

I also lifted some light back into the windows on the shadowed building on the right, not on all but a few to suggest that there may be windows on the other side of the building and I went over the very light roof on the right with a very light mix of mud from my palette using a lot of water to tint the roof slightly.

We also talked about cast shadows vs form shadows. If you can place an object like a round vase on a table with a strong light source such as a sunlit window or a lamp, look at the object carefully. Where the light is hitting it, it is very light/bright, as you move away from the light source the object becomes cooler and darker as it goes into shadow, this is your “form” shadow. Now look on the table at the shadow created by the object blocking the light source and notice the difference, it should appear darker than the shadows on the object especially near where the object sits on the table, this is a “cast: shadow. Both of these types of shadows are important one show the shape of the object and the other shows direction of light. Understand them and don’t forget them.

You can finish this project to your own satisfaction and start looking for a project of your own. I will be out of town on the 4th but there will be a teacher taking my place so there will be class. If there are any subjects you would like to have a demo on or technique, let me know as my demos until the end of the session will deal with individual subjects and not a full project.

Next time: Brush strokes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summer '08 Projects Week 3

Week 3: Acrylic – “P.V. Lighthouse “

This week we started the highlight process. While these are not final highlights, these midrange values are very important to give texture and form to your cliffs. I used sienna and orange as a base for my highlights but added touches of all my other colors to give variety to my cliffs. When I got to where I knew there would be a lot of foliage, I used a mix of green with orange just don’t go over everything with these highlights or you will have to put your shadows back in. All of this was done using the dry brush technique and scrubbing these colors on, it keeps the edges soft and lets some of the under painting show through.

I also added some detail into my shadows by using a little touch of alizarin crimson also dry brushed.

At this point I need to start thinking about the finished painting, I kept my reference picture close by and referred to it often so I could see where my highlights were exactly and where there were some changes on the cliffs, for instance, there is a light part of the cliff just below where the light house sits, it has it’s own unique shape and color. The color I used – and I did have to play with it to get it close – was the sienna with a touch of yellow, white and a hint of purple to grey the color, I added some shadows back into that area using blue, purple and sienna and what was on my brush.

Along the shore nearest the cliffs the rocks are lighter than those closer to the water because they are dry, in the same pile of dark paint I used for shadows I added white to get a light grey/blue color and scrubbed this color at the base of the cliffs.

I added the grass to the top of the cliffs, they had to be under painted first with green, purple and blued. Be sure that you don’t just paint a strip of green, if you look closely at the reference picture you will notice that the grass does come out on some of the tops of those bluffs, this will help again with creating the shape of the cliffs. After I got the base for the grass painted I went back to my dark shadow color and with quick, short downward strokes I added shadows just under the grass to give the grass some dimension.

This next part is tricky: drawing the lighthouse. While it may not see like a major problem, in many paintings I see with a lighthouse, it is almost always too big in its relationship to everything else around it. As humans, our brains assign priority to the things they see, the lighthouse not only representing something we associate with safety it is also a man-made object in the middle of Nature so our brain thinks it has to be important, so unless we are aware that our brains are trying to sabotage our efforts, we will tend to draw/paint the lighthouse too big. While the actual lighthouse may be 100’ tall, the cliffs it is standing on may be 300’ – 500’ and would definitely dwarf the light house if you could do a side by side comparison.

Keeping this all in mind, measure the lighthouse in the reference picture using the end of your brush or a pencil or some other straight thing (I have a chopstick for this purpose) then measure it compared to the cliffs starting just below the lighthouse and measuring to the bottom of the cliffs. I think I measured about 3 ½ to 4 lighthouse lengths to the cliff’s base. Now measure your paintings cliffs with your brush and try to find about a third to a quarter of the distance from the top to the bottom of the cliffs that is how tall your light house should be. Mark it with your charcoal so you know the height of the lighthouse then sketch in the lighthouse, don’t get it too wide for all the same reasons. Proportions are vital if you want to keep some realistic perspective to your painting.

The lighthouse is based in with a dark blue/grey color (blue, sienna, white and a little purple). Stay within your charcoal lines to the LH doesn’t grow. There is also a little thing on the end of the cliffs that can be painted in with this color as well. I added a bit more sienna to the dark color to paint the copper roof of the LH.

Finally, I painted some intermediate highlights on the grass on the top of the cliffs using sap green and yellow. I applied the paint with short downward strokes to give a soft edge to the top of the cliffs.

Next week: Rocks in the water and more.

Week 3: “Merging Piers” – Watercolor

This week we got a bit more specific and also started adding some color. First I made a wash of turquoise with lots of water (pthalo blue will also work) with this wash I went over all of the front buildings in the front both on the sunny side and the shadowed side of the building in the front, then down into the water with this color. Be sure to rinse your brush before you go into the water because you may have picked up some dark color when you went across the shadowed building. This wash needs to be just a tint so it looks like sunlight is hitting it in the final painting.

When you get to the water remember that this is moving water so use the end of your brush and paint the color on with long, flat, overlapping “U” shaped strokes. You can also add touches of green into the water, just keep it light in value (lots of water, little paint), we will be adding more color next week.

Again, using the same turquoise color but just a bit stronger in intensity (less water) to suggest the window pains on the top of the windows on the left. What you are doing here is negative painting in the frames that hold the glass (see the photo on the picture page), just like with everything else, you can just suggest the frames and let the viewer do some work.

I put some color into the roofs: Some yellow with a touch of sap green on the right and dropped some orange into that color while it was still wet and on the left used sienna with a touch of orange to under paint the roofs on the front buildings and on the Tony’s building.

While things were drying I mixed a dark color with sienna and purple though I kept it on the brownish side using little water, I used the chiseled edge of my brush to just touch to make the lines of the wood ornamentation on the buildings in the back on the right side and using the same color and technique created some of the pilings under the pier where we have the light water.

When the roofs were dry, I also used that dark color and the edge of my brush to just touch under the eves to create some dark shadows to create some depth. Then using straight sienna on the end of the brush I touched the top of the little angular building where the tow piers meet to suggest it has tiles along the edge.

Going back to a shadow mix with some of the turquoise in it, I negatively painted the railings and the posts they are attached to. You are painting the building behind the railings you can also at this time with this color negative paint frames around some of the windows on that side as well.

On the left side where the sun is brightest, using the same color though maybe with a bit more of the turquoise color in it you will positively paint the railings towards the center (actually paint the railings and posts) of the painting and negatively paint the ones in the front of the building (see photo page) same as you did on the other side.

The roofs should be dry by now so we can add the suggestion of wood shingles or composite roofing shingles. Start with the wood shingles on the building on the left, using straight sienna or with just a touch of purple in it and a bit of water – we don’t want this real dark, just darker than what’s there – using a dry brush technique (keep a paper towel handy to take the excess water out of your brush) use the edge of the brush keeping it parallel to the top of the roof and make quick, little downward strokes. You don’t need to make the exact number of rows across and you can skip places, just try to keep them parallel to the top of the roof. If it looks a bit to detailed, wait until it is dry, then with a damp brush gently go over the area to soften the look of the shingles.

On the yellow roof it will be a similar situation but you will use a grey mix (actually, any mud you have on your palette will work fine) just keep it dilute and just a bit darker than the roof. Again, if it is too sharp, use a damp brush to soften the color.

Next week: More color in the water, some shadows and detail.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer 08 Projects Week 2

Week 2: Acrylic – P.V Lighthouse

This week we will finish our under painting for the cliffs and start some of the refinement process. Keep in mind that we are building our painting just like we would build a house: The foundation and the frame are just as important at the final picture, even if you are doing a more impressionistic type of painting, these first few steps are very important just as the foundation and framing are to a well built house.

We started out by working more on our water. Starting out at the horizon, using a bristle brush I mixed white with little touches of blue and/or green, I lightly mixed this on my palette but most of the mixing is done on the canvas. This color should be just slightly lighter than what you have in that area, this is part of the highlighting process but may not be the final highlight, we will determine that later as we are finishing up our painting. I was using a #10 flat bristle for more of the day’s painting.

Using long flat “U” shaped strokes (these should almost be flat lines with just the very ends slightly turned up) I worked my way down from the horizon overlapping my strokes but I do want to keep some of the color of the under painting showing through so it looks like movement in the distance, however, this is in the far distance so keep it subtle. Remember: Things in the distance are softer, greyer, less intense in color and have little or no detail.

As you work your way to the foreground, you use the same colors except you use less white. You want to keep the color a shade or two lighter than what is under it but not so light that the contrast is distracting. These are mid-tone highlights, again, not the final highlights. If you are near the shore, you can add touches of sienna or orange to your color, even some purple in the deeper water, just keep your strokes fairly flat, that is unless you want a very stormy sea. The more pronounced the “U” shape of your stroke the more turbulent your water will appear.

Don’t worry if you go into the area where your cliffs will be, you can paint right over them and it won’t hurt a thing. This will also accomplish something several of you found out the hard way, it lets you get the ocean behind your cliffs now so you don’t have to try and paint it back in later, which can be a challenging situation to keep the ocean looking like it is flat.

Once you have gotten this mid-range highlight on your ocean, you can sketch in the area where your cliffs and shore line will be using either your vine charcoal or chalk, just remember to blow off the dust. Again, this is not a detailed sketch but more of a guide to let you know where your cliffs are and how the shore line bends around. We are not worried about the lighthouse, trees grass or anything else, just getting the shape of the cliffs in at this point.

Still using the #10 flat bristle brush, I picked up my blue, sienna and a touch of purple to start the painting of the cliffs. I want to brush mix these colors on my canvas so I don’t get a flat even color, I want the variation that brush mixing will give me. The stroke I used was a sort of scumbling stroke but I did keep in mind the direction of the cliff faces. I’d pick up my paint and spread it around until it was almost a dry brush technique, it doesn’t need to be real thick at this point, also, there is a lot of vertical movement in the cliffs so I wanted my strokes to reflect that movement. Along with the fore-mentioned colors, I also picked up green, orange, red and touches of yellow trying not to blend everything so much that it becomes on solid ugly color. Near the bottom of the cliffs where all the piles of eroded rocks are, I just used the blue, purple and sienna with just a touch of white to grey the color to paint the rocks. Use a flatter stroke when painting the shore to give the illusion that there is a change of direction from the cliffs above.

In the bottom left hand corner there will be some closer green bushes and weeds, you can under paint that area using the blue, purple sienna with either the sap or hooker’s green or both, you just want it very dark in that corner.

After your cliffs are dry, you can start to base in the shadows in the cliffs, still using the same brush pick up the blue, purple and sienna though this time mix them on you palette so you know you have a very dark color, mostly the blue and purple. This time you will be using a dry brush so once you have loaded your brush wipe some of it off so you don’t have and globs of paint on your brush. Again, these strokes should follow the angles of the cliffs. If you need to you can sketch in where the shadows are and also take note that the shadows have really dark areas and not so dark areas, this is important to give your painting 3 dimensions. To make an area darker use more pressure on your brush; to make them not so dark, lessen the pressure. Even using a “dry” brush, there is still a lot of paint in it
and the dry brush is a very effective way to work with acrylics.

Next week: Adding some grass and more highlights.

Week 2: Watercolor – Merging Pier

We are still working on establishing our shadows in our paintings so we are still using the same mix of paint: The blue and orange with lots of water to make a grey blue color. It is still the same value as we have been working with so don’t get it too dark. However, we are now getting down to specifics so if you need to use a smaller brush – not your tiny brushes, just a smaller one – it might help when you are painting around some of these areas. To keep your painting from looking overworked it is best to use the largest brush you can comfortably use in the situation.

With this grey color you can add some detail to the condos behind the pier, just don’t get carried away. Suggest windows or shadows on buildings or trees but just suggest them, they are too far in the background to have much if any detail and little or no color.

With the same color, paint in the windows on the buildings, doing one building at a time because you will need the area to be wet for the following step. While the paint is still wet in the windows pick up dilute (very watery) of any of the following color: Yellow, orange, red or even just water and just barely touch the wet window area in a couple of places. Do not try to paint this in, just touch the brush to the paper and get out of there! The water with the color from your brush will push the color on the paper away so it will leave shapes that look like you can see into the buildings, just let the water and paint do all the work, it is one of the things I do love about watercolor that no other medium will do for you.

After you have finished the windows you will still need to go over the shadowed side of the building on the right and under the entire pier. Don’t forget the backs of the signs on the roofs on the building on the right either. When you get to the water, you will need to paint around the outside pilings and boards under the pier. This is called negative painting and is an important technique in watercolor since we work from light to dark. At this point only worry about the closest pilings and just paint over the ones at the back in the very dark area and don’t worry about the other details under the pier, because there will be one more wash of this shadow color especially under the pier, before we really get into colors though we will start putting in some colors today.

First the “El Torito” sign. For now, just paint it red, the whole thing. It has to dry before we can do anything else. Next, there is a angular building right where the two piers converge (see reference photo) that is getting a bit of reflected color from the roof next to it so using a touch of sienna and maybe some red or orange and lots of water to dilute it, paint the corner next to the roof, rinse out your brush and pull that color down a ways on the building. It should fade out to nothing so don’t start with a lot of paint, this is very subtle.

Next, you can add some color to the store fronts that are behind the other buildings. There were some yellows and oranges but mix them with just a bit of sienna to tone them down a bit. Over by Old Tony’s is a bamboo fence use sienna with a touch of yellow for the top part of the fence and sienna and purple for the bottom. I painted this using the chisel edge of my brush in a vertical stroke. Think bamboo when you are painting it.

If your red has dried on the “El Torito” sign, you can get out a small brush and using sienna and purple and a touch of blue (you want a warm rich brown color) NEGETIVE paint the letters on the sign. Again you just have to suggest that it says “El Torito” what you are painting is the wood around the letters (negative painting again) there is also a logo. This is just one way of putting letters on signs, but it is effective.

With that same dark brown mix, you can paint the dark roofs (look at your reference photo) of several buildings. There is a pointed roof behind the row of buildings on the pier that needs to be lighter to show distance but you can use the same color just water it down. Be aware that there are some beams next to the El Torito building you need to paint around, although if you do happen to paint over them, you can lift them later and that will be perfectly okay.

Now, back to the shadows. For this wash of color, we will change the mix just a bit, this time instead of mixing your blue with orange, mix it with just a touch of sienna. The color you get can be a bit darker in value than the previous mixes though it is still on the diluted side. This color will appear more like a charcoal blue grey, keep it to the blue side.

You will definitely need a brush that you can control, either a #4 round or small flat/angular, because we need to paint around the pilings under the pier. Before you start, look at your reference picture. Notice that it gets very, very dark where the two piers meet and there is very little visible detail, we are going to add some suggestions of detail in that dark area so it looks like the pier has some support but it is going to be subtle, we just want the viewer to think that the pier isn’t floating in air that there is some sort of structure there but not so detailed that it distracts from the rest of the painting. You are the artist you can make changes to your painting, in this case adding some detail in the dark shadows, you are never chained to a photo or other reference, if you want to add, change or remove elements that is your prerogative as an artist, you have a license, use it.

You will need to negatively paint around the pilings with your shadow color and you don’t have to paint everything you see or think you should see, just suggest the pilings and boards that are to the outside of the pier towards the back and maybe hint at a next row and that’s all you need to do. Remember also that you are painting water so when you come out from under the pier you need to flatten your strokes and blend that dark color into the lighter areas with just clear water.

The windows on the buildings that are in the shadow on the right can be painted in with this color using the same technique as you used on the other windows: apply the dark color then drop either color or water into the wet window. However, notice in the reference photo that some of the windows near where the two piers meet, there are some lighter windows that are reflecting the buildings across from them, you can achieve this look by using a clean, damp brush and gently going over the area a few times to lift out the color. Keep a towel handy to blot the area which will also lift out more color. By contrast, the lifted windows will look much lighter than the building around them that is the look we are going for.

Next week: We add color and get into some detail.