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.

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