Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring 08 Week 2

Week 2 – “Homage' to Van Gough” – Acrylic
Picture page:

This week we worked on some background detail and started some of the foreground branch’s detail. The first part of this process is to determine where the light source is so we know where the highlights and shadows are going to fall. For this painting the light will be coming from the top right of the picture. If it helps you to remember where the light is coming from, you can draw and arrow or sun on your canvas with your charcoal, it will wipe off with a damp paper towel later. (Note the arrow and small sun on the top right of this week’s picture on the picture page.)

You will be using a small sable brush to this step (a relief for many of you ;-) , it can be either a #4 flat or round brush, I was using a #4 flat brush.

On your palette, mix white – I used gesso mostly because I already had it on my palette – a little touch or yellow and orange. If you don’t have orange you can use a small touch of red with the yellow you are looking for a pale – almost white - peachy color, this will be the highlight for our background blooms.

Try not to labor over these next strokes, they are quick strokes some are only “dashes and dots” to suggest that there is sun light hitting the blooms in this tree. They will mostly be on the top, right hand side of the blooms, starting at the outside edge of the petal(s) and a quick “flick” towards the center where you want to suggest a whole petal, dashes and dots where you are showing just the highlighted edges or partial petals. Move quickly, don’t belabor this process or your background will look too over worked.

The centers of the blooms are just as quick and you can use the same brush. Mix a touch of red or alizarin chrisom with white, you want a dark pink color. On SOME, not all, of the blooms touch this color where you think the center of a bloom might be. Vary the size and shape of these touches, i.e. some round some dashes or oval, some large some small, some close together some single… This will give the illusion of lots of flowers facing many directions.

To highlight the background branches mix the same peachy color you did before but this time it can be a little more intense in color. It will still be very pale but will look more peach than white. This color goes on the top of the branches, be careful not to have a hard line in the background you may have to blend it in with your finger or a clean, dry brush. Again, work quickly, this is the background it doesn’t need much detail, just enough to support the main foreground branch.

When you have finished highlighting your background blooms and branches, it is time to start the highlighting of the foreground branch, we should be done with the background, so don’t go back to it concentrate your efforts to the “star of the show”.

I went back to using a bristle brush, a #6 bright (short bristles). I mixed the yellow and orange with just a little white and a touch of sienna, it was a dull rusty looking orange. We want to build to the final highlight so don’t get too light too fast, this color should just be a shade or two lighter that what is already on your branch.

Starting at the top of the branch, placing the whole edge of my brush on the canvas, I made a series of quick “C” shapes as I painted this color with a dry brush (clean damp dry brush with very little paint). Be aware of your brush strokes, they can give the viewer a sense of shape and direction which is why I used a “C” shaped stroke in stead of a straight vertical or horizontal line. The branch is round and your strokes should reflect this. Also, this color only goes approximately half way around the branch so stop before you get to the bottom, that said you may need to use your finger to soften the bottom edge because you don’t want a hard line. If some of your under painting shows through, all the better! This will give your branch some texture, this is a good thing and the reason we do an under painting.

We also put on a reflected highlight on our branch. This represents the scattered light that appears in the shadows and will give your painting more dimension. Using the same bristle brush, mix a touch of blue and purple and a slight touch of white to get a dark lavender color and with the same dry brush “C” stroke, starting at the bottom of the branch this time, apply this color to the underside and shadowed sides to your branches. I think I got my reflected light too dark, I will correct it in class on Monday.

Next week: More highlights and details on the branch, maybe start on the blooms.

Sunflower – Watercolor

Because I only had 2 people who were working on the project in class on Monday, we really didn’t work on the sunflower other than more of the same as we had done the week before: Intensifying the color on the petals (getting the yellow more saturate) making the folds stand out if needed, but not much more. I didn’t want to get so far ahead that those who weren’t there had trouble catching up; I hope everyone can make it to class on Monday ready to work, we probably only have another week or two and we will be finished.

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