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.

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