Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter 08 Classes Week 2

To view the paintings go the the on-line gallery at: http://picasaweb.google.com/artclasspics/ClassProjects

Winter Morning – Acrylic

The next step is to put in a line of closer trees. They will be closer than the first line of trees we put in, but still far enough away that we do not need to do too much detail. Please keep this in mind when working in this area: Think forest not individual trees.

Using the biggest flat brush you can use comfortably for the size of canvas you are working on (I’m working on a 16” x 20” so I used a No 10 flat bristle brush, if your canvas is smaller, using a No 6 or 8 might work better for you), mix Ultra marine BLUE with, dioxizine PURPLE, and either sap or Hooker’s GREEN (I will just use the capitalized words for these colors for short) with just a touch of WHITE (either gesso or Titanium white) to lighten. This will be a very dark color and it should be to the bluish side, but it should not be so dark that it looks black so add the white carefully to change the value but not so much that it turns grey.

Drag your brush through your paint to create an edge to the brush. If your bristle brush won’t come to a sharp edge, try a flat sable of a similar size for this step. Using that sharpened edge, you can create the trunks of some of the taller trees in this section by just touching the edge of the brush to the canvas to make a vertical line. One or two lengths of the brush should be enough to get started. Remember, this is a forest there will be trees of all sizes so make some of the trees taller and/or closer in appearance along with shorter one.

From the line you just made (it’s probably best to create the tops of these trees as you go along rather than all at once, you could end up with phone poles), using the corner of your brush and starting a bit down from the top of this line, touch the canvas then “flick” the brush quickly to create the top most branches. As you work your way down the tree, the branches become longer and the growth becomes denser so use a scumbling/scrubbing stroke near the base of the trees to fill in the gaps (here is where I want you to think thick forest) . You will be covering up some but not all of the tree line you did before, don’t worry about it you needed that line to show distance where you don’t paint over it.

Work your way across the canvas, this line of trees goes behind the large cliff on the right (as you look at your canvas). Vary the size and don’t be afraid to make some of the trees break the plane of the edges of the mountains behind them. This overlap will create distance in your painting.

While your trees are drying we will under paint the snow for the cliffs on the right and for the closer hills. You will need your bristle brush for this step, with it mix your blue, purple, a touch of burnt SIENNA and white to create a medium bluish grey mixture, it should be a shade lighter than the darkest part of your sky. This will be the under painting for the snow on the cliffs and variations of this color will be used to under paint the rest of the snow area. Contrary to what you might think, when you paint something that is naturally white like snow, you do not start off painting it white. Look at something that is white such as a building or a wall where you can see light and shadow, you will notice that in the shadow that white wall is a definite blue color, we need that blue color under our snow so when we get to the whitest whites, we will be able to see them, it will also give our snow depth and texture.

Using the dry brush technique (dampened brush with little paint) you are going to create snow capped boulders on the cliffs. Look at the brush strokes you painted in the cliffs, you can use them to “find” boulder shapes. Paint the snow caps on these boulders with rounded brush strokes. Snow is soft so keep your edges soft. Think about how snow drifts and collects in crevices as you are painting. Don’t get carried away and cover all of your cliff-side but be sure to take your snow over the edge of the cliff so you don’t have a dark outline on the edge next to the sky.

Using the same mixture of paint, under paint the ridge that the last line of trees you painted are sitting on. It is okay if some of the tree color mixes in with the snow color. Don’t worry about it, this is under painting. Keep in mind that this ridge is also going to be behind our road so bring it down far enough that the road can be in front of it.

To this same mixture (blue, purple, touch of sienna and white) add more white to lighten it, if it is too grey, add a bit more blue, this color should be a couple shades lighter than the paint you just used. This will be for the reflected highlights in the cliff snow and the snow on the trees you just painted.

In the cliffs, using the dry brush technique again, just hit the tops of the snow you just painted. You should not go over everything, just the tops of the rocks to give them a bit more form.

In the tree line, it you had to use the sable brush you may use it again, load your brush with paint (this is not dry brush so you can have some paint in your brush, just not gobs) and just like you did when you were painting the tree tops, use the corner of the brush and a flicking downward motion to create the snow covered branches. Again as always, don’t cover up all your dark areas; you just want to suggest that the trees are covered in snow. (See detail on photo page.)

If you haven’t done so, you might want to sketch in the nearer hills and road at this time with you vine charcoal. Keep in mind perspective when you are drawing your road. The road is at a slight curve and is going over a hill, the left edge of the road should come in from a couple inches up the left side of your canvas, try to keep any lines in your paintings from going out the corners, it visually points your viewer out of your painting like an arrow. The front of the right side of the road should come to almost 2/3s across from the left corner of you canvas and narrows as it curves back around the hill.

Using that same snow color you just used for the highlights, under paint the rest of your hills. This is where brush strokes are your best friend. While this isn’t exactly dry brush, you can scrub the paint to get the canvas covered keep in mind what and where you are painting. You are painting snow that is covering gentle hills these hills are rounded so use rounded strokes and follow the form of the hills when you are painting them. When you get to the road, you can add a touch more white to your mixture but when you paint the road flatten you strokes, they should be horizontal so the road will look flat. Where the edges of the road touch the hills, be sure to blend them into the hills on both sides so there are no hard edges between the two. Use your finger to blend if you want but there should be no line of demarcation between the road and the hills, your brush strokes will show the difference. At this point your entire canvas should be under painted.

Next time: We build a house and start the highlights.

Fantasy Ireland – Watercolor

To view the paintings go to the picture gallery at: http://picasaweb.google.com/artclasspics/ClassProjects

I thought that my sky was a bit too grey so I added a some more blue by turning the painting upside down, starting at the horizon with the water and using just clear water I painted the entire sky area (wet into wet). Next, while the paper is still wet, I painted a light wash of ultra marine BLUE from the water, up to the top of the cliff and along the edge (paint right through the castle area), then I rinsed my brush and using clear water, helped the color blend up to the top of the paper. (I will used the capitalized color name for convenience unless I indicate otherwise.)

Adding color to the cliffs can be done in a couple of ways either wet into wet (see above) or wet on dry (wet brush, tough not dripping, on dry paper), what ever is easier for you. In either case, work in small areas one at a time so you can control the paint.

Mix burnt SIENNA, cadmium YELLOW and a little touch of dioxizine PURPLE and water to get another pale wash. The purple is to slightly grey the color and a little will go a long way so be careful when adding it to your mixture. If you have ochre or raw sienna on your palette, you may use either of those colors straight just dilute them with water to get a pale wash. You can paint non adjacent cliffs at the same time, let them dry then paint the other cliffs. Vary this wash by adding a bit more sienna to it for the closer cliffs.

Start in the area that would be in between the cliffs (land side). As you paint out towards the ocean, use water to blend the color to the outside edge of the cliff so that it will look darker in close to the land side. This is so you can distinguish between the layers of cliffs by playing light against dark.

The grassy areas are a mixture of sap GREEN, blue, a touch of sienna and water. It will be a medium density wash, not quite as pale as the wash for the cliffs. Painting from the bottom of the grass on the cliffs using either the wet into wet or wet on dry method, paint the grass one section at a time, do not got to the top of the grass with this color, instead, pick up some yellow on your brush – no need to rinse it – then paint the top edge of the grass with the yellow and let the two colors blend together. Rinse your brush and on the tip of your brush, pick up pure blue and paint it along the bottom edge of the grass and let it blend up into the first green wash you put down. Do this for each section of grass letting the touching section dry before painting its neighbor like you did with the cliffs.

On the cliff behind the closest cliff, when you are painting the area behind to it closest cliff, you can negative paint a suggestion of grasses on the closer cliff. What that means is you leave some of the light areas by painting around them leaving a jagged line in the closer grass suggesting grass blades. Negative painting is used a lot in watercolor to save the lighter areas of your painting; you are basically painting the negative areas around an object to show the object. (See detail on the photo page)

Under all of the grasses before the rocks of the cliffs start, there is a very dark shadow that needs to be put in at this time. I use my angle brush for this by loading blue and purple on the point of my brush with only the water in the brush (the brush is damp not dripping), basically, straight off my palette. I run this mixture under all the grass edges rinse my brush and with just a damp brush I touch the lower edge of this paint and blend it down the cliff. It should be very dark right under the grasses and fade to nothing down the cliff.

Painting the castle: You might want to use a smaller brush here because the size of the castle is rather small; you will be mixing your blue, purple and sienna plus enough water to make a dark grey. This color should be at least 2 shades darker than the sky behind it and can either be to the blue or to the sienna side. This is still a wash so don’t get your mixture to concentrated with paint, we still have work to do when it is dry.

Using that same color you can paint the first rocks of your rock wall. The rocks are just shapes for now and you can add other colors on your wall as you paint it. Remember to negative paint the grasses along the bottom of the wall in the foreground. As the wall goes over the hill it gets smaller and the colors blend into each other. The wall in the distance is more of a dark broken line.

Next time: Adding some detail.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Winter 2008 Acrylic & Waterclor Classes

I am having trouble adding pictures to this blog so I am putting a hyperlink here if you want to see or get the pictures and or designs. I've put them in an online album. http://picasaweb.google.com/artclasspics/ClassProjects


Week 1 – You should not do a detailed drawing on your canvas at this point. We will sketch as we need to as we go along. We started out on a white canvas covering the top third first with gesso with our hake (largest brush) brush, then picking up red (either napthol or alizarin) streaking it across the canvas from the interior of the canvas then using large chris-cross strokes blending toward the top. Next take ultra marine blue and a touch of dioxizine purple still using your large brush, streak this across the top of the canvas and with large chris-cross, very light strokes, blend it down to the red so there is a gradual shift from blue to red. The tendency is to over blend so be sure that the red, which should look pink, is the prominent color in the sky.

Distant Mountains – Using your vine charcoal, sketch in your distant mountains. You might want to let your sky dry before sketching. Using either a #10 or #12 bristle brush (smaller if you are working on a small canvas), mix either white or gesso with the red. You want a color that is a couple of shades darker than your sky. Use the whole flat edge of the brush and pull down from the sketch lines you drew for your mountains to define the shape but keep the edges soft. You can use a scumbling (an unorganized series of overlapping strokes) in the body of the mts. once you get the top shaped, be sure that there are no hard edges either at the top or bottom of your mts.

If your distant mts look too close, I.E: too dark, you can take white with a touch of the red on a DRY brush (very little paint on an almost brush) and a with circular motion dry brush some haze over the mts starting at the bottom and work up.

Snow on Distant Mts. – You can use a smaller bristle brush to do the snow using a mixture of white (gesso or titanium) and a touch of red. It should be lighter than your mt. color. Acrylics dry darker so you may have to go over the snow a couple of times using a bit more white each time but never white by it’s self.

Closer Mountain (right side) – This Mt is in shadow and it is closer to you so it will be darker and bluer. Using a #10 or #8 flat bristle brush, mix blue, purple, burnt sienna and a touch of white and scumble in the under painting for this mountain it should be fairly dark and on the blue side. Be sure to take it out of the canvas (it is so close you cannot see the top) and that there are no hard edges along the bottom.

Distant Trees - Using the same flat brush mix the blue, purple, sienna and white to get a medium blue gray color. It should be a color lighter than the mountain you just painted but darker that the distant mountains. Using the flat edge of the brush vertically create a line of distant trees along the bottom of the distant mts that end at the closer mt. by starting at the top of the tree line and pulling down. Vary the height of your trees so it doesn’t look like a manicured lawn and over lap your strokes so it doesn’t look like a fence. This is a forest, so think lots of trees.

Next session: Finishing the under painting.


Always keep in mind that when working in watercolor you work in layers from light to dark so keep your washes light especially at first. If you get too dark too fast you will have problems.

Week 1 - After you have finished sketching your design, with a large brush (I use a 1” angled shader) mix a combination of blue (cerulean, cobalt or ultra marine, I start with cerulean because I have it on my palette) with a touch of cad orange. You will need to use a lot of water to dilute this down to a pale bluish gray wash. Your brush should have paint in it but not dripping. This wash will go over everything EXCEPT the tops of the hills, top of the rock wall, fence post and the road. LET IT DRY! Use a hair drier if you want, but it must dry.

Wash 2 - Using the same two colors, mix another thin wash but a bit bluer and a bit richer (sorry, I can’t be more specific, just don’t get too dark) you still want it pale but not quite as pale as your first wash. If you need to, turn your painting upside down, you will be starting this wash where the sky meets the ocean and it is easier if your painting is upside down. With this new wash lay it down in the sky area next to the water. Paint the sky up the edge cliffs and over the castle. Rinse your brush and with the clean brush and a bit of water, go into the edge of the wash you just put down and blend it out to the top edge of your sky. This is called a graded wash.

Turn your painting back upright, it should not be wet enough to run, if it does, pick up the pools with a clean, damp brush or paper towel.

With that same mixture of wash, paint the water starting at the shore and move up towards the sky using the same process: Darker at the bottom then using a clean brush with just water and blend to the horizon. This same technique is used to create the shadow areas such as the areas between the cliffs. Start in-between the cliffs with the darker wash then rinse your brush and with plain water, blend the paint about ¾ the way to the vertical edge of each cliff section. You can also use this wash to create a valley between where the road goes over the hill and the distant hill. The rock wall can be painted with the same mixture its entire length until it goes over the hill.

Distant Hills – First wash: Using cad yellow pale and a lot of water to make a very dilute wash, paint over all the grass areas even any foreground areas that have that first pale blue/gray wash. Those areas may end up looking green, that is a good thing, don’t worry about it. This is under painting and sets the stage for successive layers. Don’t forget the grasses at the bottom of the wall.

The Road – First wash: Using a dilute mixture of burnt sienna, with a touch of yellow, paint the road using long, overlapping “U” shaped strokes in a horizontal motion. This is a rough road your brush strokes will help create that feel. Add touches of water to your mixtures as you go toward the distance. The fence post can also be under painted with this wash mix.

Next session: More Layers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Equipment List

General Equipment List for Acrylics and Watercolor

This list is to compliment the lists I give out in class; I have combined the equipment lists you will receive. Please be sure to note the media when making any purchases, the equipment will be discussed at the first meeting, if you have any questions on what to buy. The following are only suggestions for basic equipment, if you have supplies already that will suffice, you don’t need to buy anything else unless you need it. Many items are interchangeable I have noted where there are differences.

Colors - I use a similar color palette for both acrylics and water color, be sure to buy the colors in the correct media (watercolor or acrylic). Cadmium Yellow Light, Napthal Red (manufactures sometimes use their own name for this red such as Grumbacher Red or Winsor Red), Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Sap Green, (French) Ultra Marine Blue, Dioxizine Purple. Optional additional colors: Cadmium Orange, Light Blue Violet, Hooker’s Green, Thalo Yellow Green, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Red Light.
Acrylic only: Titanium White (Bleached). No, I didn’t forget black, I do not use it in most cases.

Palette – Most anything can be used from commercial palettes, to meat trays to put paints out on, but it is helpful to have an area where you can mix. Having a piece of plexi-glass (Acrylic), glass or spare meat tray to mix in is helpful because they are easy to clean.

Brushes - Acrylic: 2” (or larger) Blending Brush (Haki) the bristles should be very soft
#10 Flat Bristle Brush; #4 or #6 Flat Bristle Brush; #4 or #6 Flat Sable Brush; # 4 Round Sable Brush; # 3 Liner. Oil brushes are the same as acrylic brushes.

Watercolor: You don’t need really expensive brushes, but you do need well-constructed ones. The ferrules (metal part) should be solid no seams, the bristles should be even, and hold their shape when wet. Use brushes designed for watercolor, they usually have shorter handles and can be either natural sable (usually more expensive) or synthetic sable.

2” Hake brush (doesn’t need to be expensive) or 2” Wash Brush; 1” or ¾” Flat Sable or Angled Shader; ½” Flat Sable or Angled Shader; #6 Round Sable; #2 or #3 Script Liner Brush.
Optional Brushes: ¼” Flat or Angled Shader; #8 or #10 Round Sable; #1 or 2 Round Sable

Canvas– Acrylic: You can use stretched canvas, canvas boards, canvas pads, or gessoed masonite boards. Size is up to the student though I suggest at least 8” x 10”. Also, because of limited class space, no larger than 36” maximum in any direction.

Paper - Watercolor: The most important aspect of buying watercolor paper is weight. Whether you buy a pad, a block, or individual sheets, be sure that it is 140 lbs Cold press watercolor paper, anything less will buckle when wet. Each paper manufacturer makes their paper just a bit different, and it does have an effect on the final product. If you are having trouble with your technique, it is probably the paper and not you.

If you are using a watercolor block you don’t need to have a support for your paper, however, if you are using a tablet or single sheet paper, you need a support. I use acrylic boards that I get from OSH or Home Depot usually where they have the masonite and molding, it’s usually used as a substitute for glass in pictures. You can also use masonite. They come in all sizes or can be cut down, find a size that is a bit bigger than the paper you will be working on.

Other supplies to have –Both classes: Spray bottle for water to keep paints moist, paper towels (I prefer Viva), container for water, an old tooth brush, masking tape or blue painter’s tape, sponge and/or sea sponges and permanent fine tipped marker (Sharpie).

Acrylic: Single edge razor blade, Gesso, soft vine charcoal or charcoal pencil, white chalk.

Watercolor: No. 2B Pencil, either/or gummed eraser or Magic Rub, masking fluid, soap (old, small bar is fine), cheap or old brushes for the masking fluid, salt.

Easels should be available in the class, however, if you have a tabletop easel or an easel you want to work on, it is okay to bring it as well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Work in Progress

I had a brilliant idea this morning, many of my students ask me to e-mail them the drawings or reference for the projects we do in class and I often times forget to send them for one reason or another, that's how I came up with this idea: To have a place on the Web that I can post current projects and equipment info that my students can access at any time, any place.

I need to get some things organized now so it will be a couple of days before I actually have the kind of info I want to have on here, but for now, this will have to do.

So welcome to any and all who have found this site by accident or design, come back any time!