Friday, February 29, 2008

Week 5: “Winter Morning” – Acrylic
For pictures:

We started out finishing the trees we put in last time by putting the snow on them. We did this like we have will all our other snow by under painting the snow with a cool blue color, a mixture of blue, purple and white mostly to the blue side.

When you are putting this color on your trees, try to think in terms of shapes. If you can look at a pine tree or have some kind of reference material to study, note the shapes of the limbs of the trees, they are very fan-like so when the snow piles up on them the snow will also be very fan shaped when you lay it down. Remember to go beyond the ends of your branches with your snow. Many of you were starting a bit back from the end and while it is okay in some areas, to give the look of new fallen snow, the branches should look well covered. We also scumbled some of this color around the base of the pines as shadows between the trees.

While we let the snow dry on our pine trees, we started putting the bark on the aspen trees. All you really need to do to mix a color for the bark is to add a touch more white and a touch of sienna to slightly grey the color you have been using. For the larger trees you should be using either a sable or bristle flat brush (bristle will work best) at least a ¼ inch to ½ inch which ever works best on your size canvas. This will be a dry brush type technique though you and use a bit more paint; the trick will be in your brush stroke.

If you don’t know what a birch or aspen tree looks like, they have very beautiful white bark that has wonderful dark marks on it where the bark has split, it gives them a very unique look. To get this look on your trees, the original under painting for your trees is important, it needed to be on the dark side especially for the trees in the foreground. We can go back and add dark if we need to, but the more you have to fiddle with something the more over painted it will look so we want to keep this simple.

With you flat brush and using the whole chiseled edge of the brush on the canvas, put it on one side of the tree’s trunk, then with a quick “U” shaped stroke, drag the brush across the trunk. If the paint breaks and leaves some dark streaks, you did it exactly right! Be very sure to use a “U” shape when painting these trees and not a flat stroke. That little “U” shape will tell the viewer that the trunk is round and not flat, it is very important to remember what you are painting –round tree trunk – and paint it accordingly. Do this from both sides of the trunks, it maybe be harder going one direction than the other so you might want to practice on a piece of paper, your palette or scrap canvas before hand.

For the smaller or more distant trees, you might want to use your liner or other small brush for the smaller trees. They are in the distance so we don’t need to worry about too much detail, because we are going to have detail in the foreground trees, the viewer will assume that there is detail in the distant trees. Remember, we are illusionists when we paint and often times we are just tricking the eye.

Once you have put the first layer of bark on your aspen, let it dry and go back to your pine trees to put final highlights on the snow. Use the same brush as you used before and mix a highlight color using mostly white and the smallest touch of red as you can get. We only want to slightly tint this color so it will look very white when next to the previous color but it should not be pure white, we will only use that for our very final highlights.

Always keep in mind the direction of the sun and the way the light travels. One problem I saw many of your have was you went over everything with this highlight color, not only did you loose the dimension of your trees; you also lost the separation of your trees. The sun is coming from the left, which means that you will be highlighting the left sides of the trees but not all the trees will be highlighted all the way down, the ones that are behind the front trees may only have their tops in the sunlight, the rest will be in shadow especially near the bottom of the trees. The one tree I have in the front of my group and the one behind it to the left have highlights all the way to the ground because they are in direct sun, the rest only have their tops and maybe a few other top branches highlighted, some may have no highlights at all. This gives the illusion of shadows and depth in this group of trees, so don’t over do this step.

This highlight will go mostly on the very ends of the branches the parts that will be in the sun light, however, be aware of creating a line of demarcation between the shadows and the light on your trees, something I also saw a lot of. Because branches are of different lengths, some of the branches in the shadow side of the tree, especially near the light side, may be long enough to catch some of the bright highlight. Nature thrives on chaos theory, so as much as we humans would like things to be black and white/cut and dry, Nature not only throws in shades of grey, but the whole spectrum into the mix and we as artist need to embrace the chaos. Put a few dabs of the highlight color on to a few of the shadow branches so you don’t have a line down your tree visually cutting it in half.

While those highlights are drying, you can sketch in where your fences and the ruts in the road will be with your charcoal. The left side fence will be the easiest to draw because it has the simplest perspective, what you have to keep in mind here is size. The first post closest to you must appear tall enough to be a functional fence, it you make it too small it will look like a garden border, too tall and everything else will look out of proportion. Think of a fence about 6 – 8 feet tall and you should be okay and use your charcoal to sketch it in, if it looks too tall or in the wrong place, use a wet paper towel and wipe it off, a pencil will not work and can leave marks in your paint.

Rule of thumb when doing perspective: Things in the foreground appear larger and more detailed and as things to the distance they become smaller, closer together, less intense in color.

The right side of the road will be a challenge for most of you because the perspective is coming almost directly towards your, this is called foreshortening. Some of the previous rule applies – things will get smaller and less detailed as they go into the distance – but with a foreshortened perspective some of the posts may appear closer together or may even be over-lapped by the posts in front of them, so this is where you must pay attention to size. Again, we are only creating the illusion of a fence and a lot of that illusion is created with your paint so don’t worry too much about your sketch.

You may also want to sketch in the 3 aspen on the right side of the road. They are a bit larger than the ones on the left but will be painted much the same way. You can sketch in the ruts in your road at this time as well. Perspective is very important here: The front of the ruts will be wider and further apart than they are when the go over the hill in the distance so don’t draw them straight back. Start your road a bit in from the fence on either side, if you want, as a reminder, you can do the front part of this sketch as flat “U” shapes that get smaller as they go back until it is just a broken line. These represents the depressions left in the snow by a car or sled, so keep that in mind when drawing or painting these ruts. Blow the excess charcoal dust off your painting before you start painting.

The under painting for the left fence and aspen trees is the dark brown color you get from mixing sienna, blue and purple, you will also use this color for the shadowed side of the right fence. You can use either a bristle or sable brush here but always try to use the largest size brush you can like an 8 or a 10, don’t get out the tiny brushes until you get into detail and then only if you absolutely have to.

The ruts in the road are painted with the blue, purple and white color we use for the shadows. Use a flat “U” shaped stroke in the front and as you go into the distance that stroke should get smaller until you are just touching the chiseled edge to the canvas.

Next week: Finishing touches.

Week 5: Experimenting with different supports for watercolor
For pictures:

Since we finished up our class project last time, I thought that I would bring in some different things to paint on besides paper to expose the class to other options they may want to try. The first was Yupo watercolor paper.

Yupo isn’t actually paper, it is a synthetic support made of plastic. It started out in the printing field then someone decided to try and paint on it. It is interesting and very challenging to paint on but the results can be very rewarding. If you don’t like it, you can wash it all off under the faucet because since it is plastic, the paint just dries on the surface and can be washed off. That is a blessing and a curse because if you use too much water on your brush when laying down a layer of paint, you can lift off everything you just did, plus the paint tends to pool up on the paper. I take a ScotchBrite and lightly sand the surface before I start to paint and this does help prevent the pooling. Be patient and experiment and it is best if you dry your brush and use the paint with as little water as possible. This is a great paper for those who love to lift paint.

The next thing I showed was painting on a watercolor canvas. You can buy pre-treated watercolor canvas or you can buy a jar of Golden’s Absorbent Ground and make your own and save a bunch of money. For about the cost of one 16” x 20” pre-treated canvas you can buy a jar of the Absorbent Ground and probably convert 10 regular canvases to watercolor canvas.

The difference between this ground and gesso is it is more porous then gesso and the watercolor will act more like it is on paper. You can paint on a gesso treated surface but it will tend to be more like the Yupo paper mentioned above.

The main reason for working on a watercolor canvas is mostly connivance when it comes time to frame the painting. With traditional watercolor on paper to be presented properly, it should be matted and mounted behind glass and this can be costly especially if you are taking it in to be framed. If it is on canvas or masonite you do need to spray it with an ultra violet protective fixative but you can just put it in a frame and not worry about matting or glass.

Working on the watercolor canvas is much like working on paper with a big exception: It is very good for lifting color back off. It is much like Yupo paper in this respect but it is much more forgiving and many of the things you can do on paper, you can do on the watercolor canvas. It is also a lot tougher than paper so if you don’t like what you have you can wash it off back to white and start over.

I also showed the class how to start a painting with by wetting the paper and just dripping and splashing color onto the surface then letting it run. It is a great way to start a painting you just have to keep in mind that you are going to be adding more color to the painting so done get too intense with your colors at first. This is fun and can add a lot of character to your finished painting.

Next week: Maybe more surprises :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Winter Semester 2008 - Week 4

Both Classes: I haven’t mentioned it in quite a while because every time I do they change the schedule on me, however, if you can get KOCE Channel 50 out of Orange county (their PBS station), Monday – Thurs there are art programs on at 1 p.m. While I’m not a big fan of Donna Dewberry, you can learn something from every teacher, even the bad ones. The one’s who are scheduled that my students would be most interested in are Jerry Yarnell and Sue Schewee. Yarnell is an acrylic painter and Schewee does a combination of watercolor or acrylic. They do change artists occasionally and have Frank Clarke or Terry Madden, both are watercolorists, the best one, however, is Yarnell. He doesn’t try to finish in 30 minutes and you can see what he is doing when the camera closes in. This is why I do recommend these programs because the camera can get in close so you can see how they are using their brush and how the paint is being applied, something I am at a disadvantage in because you all can’t have your noses up to my canvas or paper :-) So check your listings, cable might be different than broadcast, or check KOCE’s schedule at : it will help you when you come to class.

Week 4 – Winter Morning – Acrylic

This week we continued the highlighting process and started our background trees so you must have your house and distant trees finished at this point because it will be harder to make changes once you start putting things in front of them so get the highlights on the ridge, the trees and the house before moving on.

Once the background is finished, we need to add another layer of highlight to our foreground. As you add highlights, you will be mixing the same colors – white and red with the occasional touch of blue - but you will be using more white (gesso or titanium) and less of the other colors, particularly the blue. That said, you will be adding touches of the red in all the highlighting except for the very final touches.

Again, using a dry brush technique and minding the direction of your brush strokes – they should follow the direction of the terrain- scrub on this new highlight color, it should be at least 2 – 3 shades lighter than the last layer you put on. Remember that dry brush should be done lightly. Don’t press too hard when applying the color and don’t cover up all of the previous work you have done, a lot of the last couple of layers should show through and that is a good thing, it gives texture and substance to your snow and makes it look like there might be things buried under it like bushes, rocks or logs.

Keep in mind that the ridge on the left side of the road has shadows down near the road so don’t take your highlight all the way to the road. Also, the ridge right next to the house can be almost white, you still need to add a touch of the red, but it is going to have trees in front of it by the end of this lesson, so you need to brighten it up more so than the rest of the hill at this point. Put it on just a bit thicker.

When you have finished all your highlighting, you are going to be putting in the pine trees that are in front of your rock cliffs on the right. You might want to take your charcoal and just make a few lines to indicated where you want the trees be sure that you have them at different levels (some forward some back), and different sizes. These are wild trees and not a windrow. Same with the aspen on the other side of the road, don’t line them up like a fence, try to create uneven spaces between them especially the aspen because you won’t have the snow covered branches to hide this problem.

Once you have decided where to put your pine trees, using a flat brush (8 or 10, bristle or sable) – I used a number 8 flat bristle – it should be one that has a good edge to it when you draw it through your paint (one side then the other to create the edge). Mix green (sap or Hooker’s) with blue and a touch of purple, it should be pretty dark and on the bluish/green side, then using the chisel edge you made, touch it to the canvas where you want to start the top of a tree. Move down to the bottom of this mark and touch it a couple more times use the width of the brush to create a fairly straight line, it should be an inch or two long depending on the size of your canvas. With the corner of this same brush and starting about half way down this line you just put on your canvas, touch the line with the corner and give it a quick, short flip. This will start the branching process. Do this on both sides of the line. As you move down the line the strokes become longer but they are still quick. All your pine trees will be made this same way. Be sure to overlap your trees and vary their sizes. Think: Wild Trees!

The aspen on the other side can be painted with any brush you feel confident in using. A bristle brush is good, but you can use a round sable if that feels better to you, for the smaller trees, if you have it, you might want to use a liner brush, the important thing here is to get the size of the trunks right. The closer trees will be thicker than the ones near the house so a larger brush will get them covered quickly. It is your choice here. Color, on-the-other-hand, I will guide you. Aspen, birch and other related type trees have a unique look to them. While their trunks are white, they have these wonderful dark breaks in them so we are going to under paint the trees with a dark paint then add the lighter colors. If you have not done so earlier, use your charcoal to locate where you want to place your aspen. These are tall, thin trees so don’t make the closer one too thick.

With whatever brush you decided to use, mix your blue, purple sienna or umber and just a touch of white to grey it. This should be a dark but warm, sienna-ish color. When you are painting the smaller trees especially the ones in the distance, keep them very thin. As they come closer to you, they can become a bit thicker and a couple of them can go off the top of the page, please remember to very the size. Don’t worry if they are not perfectly straight, natural trees aren’t perfectly straight.

If you are using your liner brush, the secret to this wonderful little brush is how you mix the paint. This is one of the few times when I will ask you to add water and lots of it. The paint should be very ink-like. If you tilt your palette, it will run though it shouldn’t race off your palette. After you have gotten the consistency of ink, roll your brush as you draw it out of the paint. You will hold the brush slightly downward when you are painting your trees, if you press it to the canvas, you will get a thicker line and as you draw it up the canvas lighten the pressure to the canvas and the line will become thinner. You might want to practice on a scrap canvas or paper before you start on your aspen.

In two weeks: We put snow on the trees, bark on our aspen and maybe get our fence started.

Week 4: Fantasy Ireland – Watercolor

This week we finished up this project, it was mostly doing some of the finishing touches and checking to see if there were any areas that needed attention before we called it good.

First, I added a few more dark shapes to my wall mostly in the foreground area of the wall. This gave some depth to the rocks and made it look like there were some gaps. I also made a thin wash using what was on the warm side of my palette to apply to the top of the wall. I didn’t like the stark white on the top of the rocks and this toned it down a bit and made it seem a bit warmer. If you need to mix a wash, use your yellow and sienna but water it down so that it is very pale.

We also painted in the grasses next to the wall using sap green with yellow and the dry brush technique, dry brush the grass in at the bottom of the wall.

On the other side of the road, use the same dry brush stroke with green and blue to add another layer of color to the grasses behind the post. Please don’t cover everything you did before, this is to help create the illusion of grasses so you need the variety of colors. It can be a bit darker right next to the road and get lighter as it goes up the hill.

On your road, you are going to be adding some more color using sienna and orange. You can use either a round or flat brush for this, just like you have done previously. Remember to use the flattened “U” strokes for your road. Again, don’t cover everything you did before, just add to it. As you go back into the distance, thin the color with water.

While your road is drying, and it will need to be dry for the next step. You can add some detail to the castle. Keep in mind that it is in the distance and all you need to do is suggest detail, do try to paint in every stone or crack in it.

I used a small angled brush but a small round or flat brush will also work. I planned that the sun would be coming in from the right of the picture so I need to place my shadows on the left sides of things, in this case the castle. Using a dark mix of blue, purple and sienna with water so it looks like a charcoal grey, I painted in the shadows behind the turrets on the wall of the castle and the left sides of some of the battlements, under the walk on the center tower and the roof inside the castle (see detail on photo page). Next I made a thicker mix of those same color but no water this time (if you have Payne’s grey, indigo or black, you may use it for this if you don’t want to mix) to make a very dark color to paint in a few windows on the tower and the turrets. These windows are long and narrow so don’t make them like modern windows you look out of, these were designed to shoot arrows from and to keep from getting hit by incoming arrows. These are all simple quick touches of color; you are only suggesting shadow and windows. I use a little straight red to make a flag flying.

Last week I mentioned that I bring these paintings home and look at them trying to see what I need to do next or if there are any corrections I need to make, well, the second cliff back and the area across the road from it didn’t seem to connect and it bothered me. I decided to add another hill to the area on the inland side of the road by using a dark blue/green mix, wet on dry to negatively paint the new hill by painting shadows behind it. I like it better now.

Back to the road: You can mix in that same area of dark paint if you want (I sometimes just mix up what ever is on my palette and add what I need to make it dark) just add some sienna and purple to make a medium dark mixture of color. You can use either a round or flat brush for this step, I use my small angled brush (1/4”) because that is what I’m use to.

We are going to be painting in the ruts of the road with this color and this is where perspective is very important to make your road look like it is going back in space. If you need to draw some light lines to help you get the perspective that is okay, as you draw or paint the ruts, keep in mind that they will appear to get closer together as they go back. I started my ruts about a ¼ the way in from each side, they appear to keep the same place on the road as they go back, but they get closer together as the road narrows. If you start your ruts too close together in the foreground and keep that same space between that as you go back, the road will look like it is standing up, these perspective lines are critical to your road. (Look at the picture page)

Starting in the foreground with this medium dark sienna/purple color, using small, flattened “U” shaped strokes, paint the ruts. These strokes can be uneven and some can connect and some can be disconnected from each other the important thing is, as they go into the background, the strokes become smaller and lighter (more water) until they are just an uneven broken line when they go over the hill. Do this for both ruts.

You can use the same color to add more shadow to your fence post. I used the edge of my brush to make short, vertical choppy strokes to show a bit of texture to the post.

When your ruts have dried, take a small dab of blue or purple on the tip of your brush, right off your palette. No need to add water we want this very dark. If you have indigo you can use it instead. Don’t use black, however, it won’t give you the right effect. On the very right side of each of the ruts, just touch this dark color to that right edge. You are not lining the rut, just putting it in a few places to help give it some depth and only got about half way back on the road with this dark color.

With the blue and purple and just a little water, right under the grasses on the right, next to the road, paint some of this dark color something like we did on the cliffs to show that they are over-hanging the cliffs, these grasses are over-hanging the road.

Using the same color, only adding more water to make it a wash, we will use it for the shadows on the right side of the road. Remember that the shadows being cast are from grasses and they are being cast on an uneven surface so the shadows will be uneven.

If you feel confident enough to use your liner brush, there are a couple of details you can add at this point, they are some individual grass blades along the side of the road by the wall and also around the post. I also added some dead bushes and a wire on the post.

Something I didn’t see before people were already leaving was I had forgotten to finish the water! Very simply, you use a wash of blue and starting close to the cliffs, make a series of uneven, horizontal lines that get further apart and lighter until they almost disappear into the distance.

The End

Post Script: One of the biggest problems I see my students struggle with has nothing to do with painting and has everything to do with knowing the basics of drawing. If you don’t know what perspective is, or how angles affect the object, or how the size of an object is relative to everything around it, or just plain seeing these things along with other basics you would have learned in drawing, you are going to have trouble painting. It is not too late to learn. Torrance has a drawing class you can take or as you have probably heard me mention before, get Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, start at the beginning and do the exercises, and it will help you in you painting efforts. I do try to point out some of the basics in class, but I have a big enough job teaching the painting part, drawing is a class by its self and I don’t have time to cover it all. I hope that my students who want to improve their paintings will take a class or get a book – Ms. Edwards or someone else’s – and brush up those drawing skills, those who do will see their paintings improve dramatically.

When we come back you are on your own, we will have 3 more classes. Last class is March 10.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Because there was a major parking problem on Monday due to an event held at the Armstrong, I didn’t do too much to the Acrylic project so for that those who weren’t there or couldn’t find parking, you won’t be too far behind next week.

Week 3: Winter Morning – Acrylic.

First we sketched in where our house will be. When placing your house or any other important subject matter in your painting, it is important where you place it. The general rule is “the Rule of Thirds”. Divide you canvas into thirds both vertically and horizontally (you can do this with your charcoal). The places where these lines intersect are called “crash points” and are the ideal places to locate subject matter, though anywhere near along the “thirds” lines will also be good places to locate your subject(s). This rule applies to all of our art work including photography. Things that are dead center in your lens or on your canvas kills the flow of your composition, keep things away from the center and your composition will improve.

Remember that this house is over that ridge on the left side so it is pretty far back visually in our painting, meaning that it will be fairly small with minimal detail, so don’t make it too big. If you want to put in something besides a house, say, a barn or a church, it is up to you, find something for reference if you need to get the shape correct. The shape will tell the viewer what it is.

First you need to under paint your house. Use a brush that is a comfortable size for your painting, I used a No. 4 bristle brush because I needed the control; you can use a small sable also if you want. On the side that would be closest to me, I used sienna, a touch each of orange, white and purple. Be very careful when using the purple it can over power almost any other color you have and all we want to do here is slightly grey the color while keeping it a warm reddish color. This is the light side of the house.

On what would be the front of the house, I used a combination of sienna and purple. This will be a dark color because this is on the shadowed side. You can also use this color to under paint a chimney if you want.

Under painting the roof of your house you will use a similar color to that you used to under paint the snow on the ridge in front of it. This is a combination of blue, purple, a touch of sienna to grey it slightly and white. Remember that the snow piles up and makes the edges of your roof rounded.

While your house is drying, you can start the snow highlighting process. Please keep in mind that this is not done all at once, it may take three or more layers of dry brush to get the highlights where we want them so don’t try to go to light too fast.

I used a No 10 bristle brush, mixed white with a touch of red (napthol or alizarin) and touch of blue or purple. This should be 2 shades lighter than the under painting for your snow and should be on the pinkish side. Using the dry brush technique and a light touch, apply this color to the top of the ridge that runs behind the house and under the trees. It should be fairly light on the top of the ridge then fade into shadow as it goes down the ridge. Once again be mindful of your strokes, they should follow the terrain that you are painting so use a long inverted “U” type stroke and leaving some of your under painting show through. Come forward on the hill on the right with this color covering all the foreground snow. If you have to remix, don’t worry if it doesn’t match, that is actually a good thing but do try to keep the value the same.

When you get to the road, remember to flatten your strokes out and blend the transition area between the road and the hill on the right and blend it into the left side. The left side is in shadow so we won’t do as much highlighting on this side. You can use a touch more white when you paint the road, though again, do not get too light or there will be no room for your highlights when we get to that point.

On the top of the ridge in front of your house, use the same highlight color but don’t go all the way down to the road with it, only go about half way down the ridge so we can keep the shadows near the road. After you are done with the left ridge, switch back to the brush you were using to paint the house. Again with this same color, highlight some of the trees on the ridge opposite from the house and the tops of some of the trees behind the house. The sun is coming from the left side so highlight the left sides of the trees this will help give the viewer a sense of light direction. If the roof is dry at this point, you can dry brush this color also on the roof, if not wait until it is dry.

On the wall of the house closest to you (side with light hitting it), with orange and a touch of sienna, dry brush the wall again and also paint the same side of the chimney, leave some dark on the right side of the chimney to indicate the shadowed side. (See detailed picture on the photo page.)

For this next step, you might want to use a small round brush (No.2 or 3) if you have it or just the corner of your flat brush. Pick up a small dab of white (titanium or gesso), then, where the top of your chimney is, place this dab at the opening of the chimney and with your finger smear it upward. This will give the appearance of smoke.

With the same brush, pick up a small dab of orange and/or yellow to paint a couple of windows on your house. These are quick strokes and don’t have to be exact, remember your house is too small for any more detail but the addition of lit windows will give the feeling that some one is home. (See detail photo.)

If your roof is dry, you may highlight it again with white and a touch or red. This color should be mostly white but still needs to be on the pinkish side. Add just a touch of blue if it is too light, but it should be a couple shades lighter than the last layer you put on. Once again, use the dry brush technique to put this layer of snow on, leaving some of the other layers showing through. This will give depth and texture to your painting.

Next week: More highlighting and possibly some trees!

Week 3: Fantasy Ireland – Watercolor

Because there were several absences, we didn’t do a lot on our project. You should be able to catch up following the instructions here.

After each week in class, I bring my paintings home, put them up on my easel and just look at them. What I’m looking for are areas that don’t “feel” quite right. It could be something in the composition, the color I’ve used, maybe the separation of objects in the painting isn’t as much as I think it should be. Sometimes it is just “something” that bothers me and I need to figure it out. It is hard to paint and talk at the same time so I don’t see these things in class because my mind is some place else. Also, after a watercolor has dried completely, it does look different because watercolor dries lighter. This is a good thing to remember.

When I set “Ireland” up on the easel, I realized that I didn’t have enough separation between the different cliffs and I needed to bring the base color up just a bit so the first thing we did was to add another layer of color to our cliffs. It was done in the same way we did the previous layer using a slightly darker version of the cliff color (sienna, yellow and a touch of purple). Starting in the area near the land using either the wet into wet or wet on dry method I added this new layer. As I worked my way out to the edge of each cliff, I rinsed my brush and with a clean, damp brush blended the color out to the edge of the cliff I was working on with just water. I did this on each of the cliffs, however, on the closest cliff I added a bit more sienna to my color, but that is the only difference.

Next I mixed the sap green with a touch of blue to cool it down to use on the foreground grass. I was using my angled shader and a dry brush technique. This is a bit more of a challenge for watercolorists to do than other media but it can be use very effectively for many situations so if you need to, practice on another piece of paper. Essentially, after you have rinsed your brush, you must dry it very well, there should be no excess water in the bristles. The only water in your brush will be what you pick up when you load paint onto your brush but even after you have loaded your brush use a paper towel and touch the heel of the brush (near the metal ferrule) to soak up any excess water.

To paint the grass, use quick, light, short up or down strokes (think grass). This is the shadowed side of the hill so it will be cooler in color, however, if you leave some of the first layer of paint showing through – and there should be a lot if you are doing the dry brush correctly – that is a good thing, it shows the texture of the grass and suggests grass. As always, this color shouldn’t be too dark so we have some place to go with it. Watercolor is worked from light to dark so don’t loose all your light areas.

As you come forward with the grass, the stroke changes when you get around the post, these become long grass blades. Because they are in the foreground, they have a bit more detail than the grass behind them.

The wall seems to be giving everyone problems, so I hope I can explain here what the goal is. We are seeing the top and the side of the wall until it goes over the crest of the hill. The top of the wall is getting more light so it is lighter and the side is a bit darker, I think most of you understand that aspect however, it gets tricky when you try to paint it to make it look like a rock wall. Again, have some reference or go look at a wall, even a brick one, and try to figure out why it appears the way it does. What you will see is on the sides, you are seeing the full shapes of the bricks or rocks, when you look at the top of the wall you are seeing a “foreshortened” version. What this means is that because of the angle to the wall you are seeing a compressed image of the top of the rock or brick. If you were looking down on the top of the wall, this phenomenon would be reversed. Also note the angles of the spaces between the bricks or rocks: On the sides they look vertical and maybe a bit wider but as they go over the top, the spaces become more horizontal and narrower, again foreshortened.

This next point is an aspect of all art that most people – beginner to advanced – have a difficult time understanding EVERYTHING is just a SHAPE. When you are painting the rocks in the wall, they are just shapes of light and dark of various colors. If you think more about shape than worrying about if it looks like a rock, the rocks will take care of themselves. Look at the detail photo of the cliffs and wall. I just painted some dark shapes. Rocks are usually angular so I tried to keep my brush strokes angular. I also over lapped some of those shapes with previous shapes. As I went back into the painting with the wall, I lightened the color by adding water to lighten it and my shapes became less distinct. Another thing to keep in mind when you are trying to create distance in your painting is that as things go off into the distance, they become greyer in color and loose detail as well as becoming smaller and closer together such as a fence line. Here the lines of our wall become small and almost converge as they go back to the crest of the hill.

These ideas will take some time to understand, but it is important for you to work on these, look for them in real life situations so you can create the illusions on your paper that will give depth, distance and substance to your painting.

We added another layer of color to our road as well. Using sienna, orange and a touch of yellow, we added the color again using the long, flat “U” shape that we used before on the road. Use a more concentrated color in the foreground and dilute it as you go back. Don’t cover everything you did before, just add some more color.

Lastly, we painted the dark lines of the cliffs. You can use either a round or flat brush (I demoed with both) for this, what ever is most comfortable for you. Mix your blue, sienna and a touch of purple to get a warm dark grey. I mixed right down in some previous mix I had on my palette so there was also a bit of green in it too, it doesn’t matter, value is what matters here. Lighter value on the distant cliffs, darker values in the closer ones.

Before you start painting, look at the detail picture again. Note the difference between the near cliffs and the far cliffs and the shapes of the lines on each. On the far cliffs the dark layers are lighter, smaller and closer together than they are on the near cliff. Also note that while they are generally horizontal, they are not perfectly flat lines. They are jagged and broken. Some are thinner, some fatter. Some converge with others. Some have more green others have more sienna or blue or ? This is Nature and Nature can be messy, She has fun with her colors and so should you. Just mind your shapes and your values and all will be well.

Next week: Depending on the class progress, we may finish this up!