Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall 08 Projects

Demo: Wood Grain in Acrylic

Creating the look of old wood in acrylic is easy if you remember one simple rule: Follow the grain! If you are painting vertical boards then your strokes should be vertical; horizontal boards horizontal strokes. Using the proper stroke will save you a lot of work trying to get the look of your subject and wood grain is a prime example.

Old wood is the most fun because you can add almost any color and it will still be right though the technique works for all types of wood you just need to be a bit more precise.

As with most of our first layer of paint, you want to start with a medium dark color and use the biggest brush you can for the area you are working on, this needs to be done quickly so it doesn’t get over worked. Like I said, you can use almost any color I used sienna, blue and purple as my base with a touch of white upon occasion and did most of my mixing on the canvas. To those colors I would add touches of everything I had on my palette. Overlap your strokes but try not to mix the colors together so much that they become one muddy color, you want to be able to see the individual colors. These colors represent old layers of paint, rust, dirt, grease, mold and anything else that might have happened to the old wood so you end up with something that doesn’t look freshly milled. Let the paint dry between layers.

The next layer is much the same but this time mix your sienna, blue, white and touch of purple to create a grey color on your palette, this will be your base for the lighter layers and it needs to be a shade or two lighter that what you have already. To this you will do just like you did before by adding other colors as you paint, this time however you will be using a dry brush which means when you rinse your brush dry it well and when you pick up your paint don’t pick up a lot or wipe some off before going to your canvas.

When you apply the paint you want to barely touch the canvas with your brush – it should still be the same brush btw – and you can wiggle it a little so it looks like saw cuts on the wood, just remember to follow the grain. You may add as may layers to your wood as you want, each time adding a bit more white to your base color and trying not to cover up all of your under painting, that is very important. It may take 4 or more layers to get the look of old wood that you want so don’t rush the process or you will be unhappy with the results.

After you have reached the point where you think your wood looks they way you want, now is the time to add the cracks and separations between the boards. If you have a liner, this is the time to get it out or you can use a small round brush but a liner will be faster.

On your palette mix a dark color by using sienna, blue and a touch of purple, this should make a very dark color. If you are using a liner you will need to add enough water so the paint is like ink, use this color to create the cracks, holes, and separate boards. This will take a bit of practice so you might want to have a separate canvas to test it out on.

When you have your cracks etc done, you can use the same brush to put a highlight around some of the cracks. Mix white with a touch of yellow, orange and/or sienna to get a warm sunshine color. Apply this to SOME of the lines and cracks to give it dimension.

You might have to play around with it a bit but once you get the hang of it you will want to put old wood in everything!

Our last class is Nov. 3rd so think about what you want to bring to class for critique.

Demo: Watercolor – Negative Painting

Last week we splashed paint to start this demo, I had an idea of where I wanted to go with it so I knew where I needed what colors but this can be done random and “find” the picture after you have done your splattering.

This week I had my drawing on so the first thing I did was to “negative paint” around my leaves. When you “negative paint” you are painting everything BUT the thing you are trying to bring out. Because in watercolor we want to leave our white or light areas, we use negative painting a lot, the more washes you put on an area around a lighter object the more that object will stand out. On the picture page you can see where I painted with a wash of purple and blue to started creating shadows behind my leaves. I can add leaves to the background by using negative painting to pull the out.

I also “positive painted” some of the leaves. That means I added color to the leaves to make their colors more intense.

In the water I use light washes of blue using the edge of my brush in long, horizontal, U-shaped strokes, working back into the shadows and painting around my rock.

Remember Nov 3rd will be our last class so have so have something to bring in for critique. This is a great time to get feedback and suggestions on how to improve your painting also to find out what you are doing right.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 4: “Rays” – Acrylic

I really don’t have a lot to add to last weeks write up. Finishing a painting becomes a personal thing, if you like the way it looks and you haven’t “finished” it with all the detail, it is perfectly okay to stop and call it good. I don’t want you to end up a clone of me, I want you to find your own style and do what feel right to you. This is art and it is very subjective and since you are doing this for yourself, you need to finish your paintings to suit your own needs as an artist, not mine.

That said, I finished up the regular canvas by doing more of the same from the previous week: Looking for places where I could highlight or shadow to get some depth and dimension into the rays. I saved the brightest highlights for the tips of the wings of the ray whose wings are coming out of the water, water distorts shape and color so to suggest that the tips are out of the water on a two dimensional surface, I need to visually convey that to the view by using more intense colors.

I also suggested eyes on the side of the head. Key word here is “suggested”. Most of the eyes are just loose backwards “C’s” with a dot quick and loose. I used a small detail brush with a dark color I had on my palette probably what I was using as shadows. I also used this same dark color to paint in the long whip-like tails on the rays.

On the water above the ray that is breaking the surface, I used white on a small brush to suggest some ripples trailing from his wing tips along with some darker blue next to the water highlights. When I thought I had finished what I needed to finish. I let it dry completely.

Once it was totally dry, I took my #12 bristle brush and some white with a little touch of blue in it and a lot of water to make a very thin wash. I wiped my brush before touching my canvas the with long, slightly wiggle-ly, horizontal strokes, I streaked this color across the entire canvas except over the wing tips sticking out of the water. This puts a slight shimmer on the water and again creates some depth.

I stepped back and assessed my painting and one thing struck me was the background did nothing to keep my eye in my painting. Since there are no rocks or weed or some other way to keep the eye from leaving the painting, I needed to do something so I choose to darken the corners a bit. I did this by using a wash again but this time I used blue with a touch of purple and a lot of water, wiped my brush out and with a circular motion, dry brushed this color into the corner areas of my background. This is a very light, dry brush stroke you just want to barely hit the surface of the canvas and work your way out from the corners until it blends in with the lighter center. Let it dry before adding more because it looks different when it dries than when it is wet.

After it had dried and I was satisfied that it was dark enough, I lightly went over the areas I just darkened with some of the white wash to put the shimmer back on the water. This is a very light, dry wash, it should not changed the value of the dark color underneath it just adds a bit of “wet” to the water.

Next week I will show how to finish our painting with a varnish. Last class is Nov.3rd and we will have a critique. Bring in anything you want whether it is your “masterpiece” or something you need help with and we will talk about it in class.

Watercolor Demo

Many beginning watercolor artists do not know about or know how to handle full sheets of watercolor paper so they buy their paper in tablets or blocks. While there is nothing wrong with tablets or blocks, buying paper in full sheets can save you money plus give you the option of painting bigger pictures without having to buy several different sizes of tablets or blocks which can be expensive especially if you don’t want to do larger paintings all the time, you can cut them down as well but that defeats the purpose of buying them in the first place.

Anyway, I brought in a half sheet of 300lb W/C paper to show how easy it is to make the size you want using full sheets of paper.

First off, I will explain weight of paper for those who don’t know. The weight of the paper is what a ream of paper weighs. A ream of paper is 500 sheets of 22” x 30” paper. If 500 sheets weights 300 lbs then it is 300 lb paper; 140 lbs equals 140 lb paper. In theory, the heavier paper is suppose to be more resistant to buckling than lighter weight papers and better to work on but each manufacturer makes their paper a bit different so if you can get sample pieces or one sheet at a time to test them to find the one you like best, it would be better than buying several sheet and find you don’t like the paper (been there done that).

Most full sheets of W/C paper have what are called “deckled edges”. Those are the rough, uncut edges that are usually found on most full sheets. Many w/c artists like these edges and work to preserve them along with using them when framing their w/c by “floating” their paintings on a mat rather than hiding the edges behind a mat. It is an option you might want to keep in mind.

Saving or creating these edges becomes a challenge when you want to cut down a full sheet of paper. You can buy yard sticks that have specially created “deckled” edges or you can use one of the methods I will explain here. First you fold the sheet to the size you want. I usually just start by folding it in half but if you wanted to make a 16 x 20 for instance, you will need to measure it first and fold your paper along the measure marks.

Once you have folded it, fold it back the other way. Do this several times to break down the fibers in the paper, then using a paper towel or a clean brush with clean water, wet the break in the fold on both sides of the paper. I showed how you can tear the paper apart carefully to create an edge similar to the deckle. You can also use a serrated knife to tear the edge if that is easier. This works well on both 300 lb and 140 lb paper.

The second demo I used a piece of the paper I just divided to show how to start a painting using splatter. I first lightly sprayed my paper with my water spray bottle. What I may not have made clear was the fact that I did not spray the whole surface. I want some dry areas on the paper so I only sprayed a few times and did not go over the paper with a brush to spread it out.

Next I picked up some very runny color on my 1” brush. This part is messy so you need to be where you can create a mess, maybe out doors or in the bath tub. I splattered and dripped color onto my paper. Color doesn’t really matter here, I do have an idea in mind so I was choosing colors that I thought I wanted in certain areas but if they got into areas I hadn’t planned, well that is a good thing for this project.

I left a lot of white showing and I also added salt and crumpled plastic wrap then let it dry. I will have a drawing on it next week that will incorporate leaves is some fashion, but this technique is not exclusive to leaves, it can be used to start all kinds of subject matter, I will bring examples next week.

Next week: Using negative painting to your advantage.

Our classes will be over on Nov. 3rd so start thinking of what you want to bring to our last class for critique. I will try to make it as painless as possible. :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 3: “Rays” – Acrylic

I went on Google and found out that the rays we are painting are called crown nose rays in case anyone is interested, they are found in Florida.

Anyway, we are getting down to the nitty gritty this week and we should finish “Rays” on Monday. We had started the highlighting process the previous week and we just continued that process this week.

It is hard to give step by step at this point because it is more a matter of “fine tuning” your painting and if you are doing it right, you go back and forth between adding more highlights and adding more shadows, all I can do here is to tell you what you need to be looking for as you bring this painting to a finish. This will apply to both the textured and the regular canvas just remember that if you are working on texture to make sure that you get all the pits and dips filled in so you don’t have any white showing.

As painters we try to create the illusion of 3 dimensions on two dimensional surfaces so we really need to use all the tools we have at our disposal, they are few but some times hard to master. The most important of these tools is “contrast”. Light against dark, dark against light. If you haven’t done so to this point, you need to set your painting up and stand back at least 6’ – 10’. Normal viewing distance is 6’ and trust me, you really can’t see what is going on with your painting when you are right on top of it so it is very important to get into the habit of standing back throughout the entire process to assess where your painting is and where it needs to go, this is especially true the closer you get to the finish of your painting, stand back an look at it.

Now that you are looking at your painting (I have mine about 6 feet away as I write this), here is what I want you to look for: Can you see separation between over-lapped rays? If not, look to see if the bottom ray is darker and bluer than the top ray, if not, that is one place to start. Squint at it to see where you are with your contrast, if it all tends to blend together, you need to punch up your contrast. Also look for differences in color, the deeper fish can be slightly darker and bluer or greener than those near the surface.

The color I used for my highlights was a mix of white, sienna with touches of blue and/or green and I scrubbed it on using a very dry brush technique. Acrylics dry darker so you might have to go over your highlights several times to get the look you want just don’t go over all of the area only the areas that will be the brightest.

The rays have a light underbelly that comes up around their leading edges and though it is much lighter than the highlight do not use pure white. Mix a bit of the highlight color in with your white to get a cream color for the deeper rays add a touch of blue or green. This color goes around the mouth and front of the wings and any turned up tips of their wings, avoid outlining the animals.

Shadow colors are a mix of sienna, purple, with touches of blue and or green though be careful with the green because mixed with the red of the sienna and purple it will turn very grey. If that happens add a bit more sienna and blue to add a bit of color back into it..

There are shadows along the sides of the body that can be created by leaving the under painting or only lightly dry brushing highlight over the area. If you do too much you can dry brush some of the shadow color back in. You can also darken the back part of the wings and any of the tips that are turned down just remember to dry brush and blend into your highlights.

We will finish the rays on Monday so if you want to start another painting remember to bring your material with you.

Next week: Varnishing a finished painting.

Week 3: “The Bull Fighter” – Watercolor

We only had a few tings to do to finish up our bull fighter so this coming week you will need to have something you want to paint as we are done with the project for this semester though I will do demos.

If you haven’t darkened up the hat, his hair and his legs, now is the time. Like I said before, this is an exception to my usual no tube black preference, if you have black or Payne’s grey feel free to use it here just don’t use it in your shadows or it will kill your color. I mixed my sienna with blue and purple to get my dark color.

After I finished darkening the black areas, I rinsed my brush (I was using my ½ angled shader) then mixed a shadow color for the red cape by mixing the red (what ever red you used for the cape) and a touch of blue and purple. It should be a deep burgundy color, don’t mix too much water in it at this time so it will remain dark and paint some of the darkest shadows on the cape which are up by his hand where he is holding the cape, under the yellow fold of the cape and a bit under his arm. Once you put this down, rinse your brush, dry it off and with just the damp brush, lightly blend the color down into the red of the cape so you don’t have a hard line, remember, this is material so highlights and shadows are soft not hard.

Now mix a bit of water into that color to slightly dilute the color to create the folds that are around his “backside” and a few coming down the front. Just like the darker folds, rinse your brush and blend these lighter folds out as well.

Highlights on the cape are easy because they are lifted out with a clean dry brush. Don’t get carried away with the lifting or it will looked like a striped cape maybe a light lift back where it flares out to separate the front from the back and maybe a bit off of one or two folds along his rear. You can also use this technique to lift a bit of highlight in the yellow areas just be sure to clean your brush well before you go into the light areas so you don’t put down a dark color instead of lifting a light color.

There is a shadow on the ground that is subtle but necessary to show that he is on the ground and not suspended in air. Use a touch of purple and blue with a lot of water to get a lavender color then starting at his feet where it will be the darkest apply this color and pull it our horizontally from his feet. Rinse your brush and with clean water, blend that color out to suggest a bit of shadow from him and the cape. Keep in mind that it needs to be darkest near him and fades out as it moves away from him.

Using this same color with maybe a bit more water to lighten it even more, create shadows on his shirt and cuffs. On his collar it will be mostly at the back because his head is casting a shadow and right next to the sleeve of his jacket and the under part of the cuff. Again – and get into the habit of this – rinse your brush when you put a color down and with a damp, clean brush blend it out.

The features on his face, I used a liner brush because it went to a fine point and I had a bit more control of it. Be sure that you have all the shadows on his face done and that they are dry before you start this or this step will bleed and blur. You can use that dark color you used on the hat and hair to suggest eyes and eye brows, a hit of a shadow under his nose as well as a suggestion of a mouth center line. Please! These are very subtle, keep a paper towel handy so if it seems too dark you can quickly pat it and take up some of the color. His face is too small for a lot of detail all we need to do is suggest the parts of his face the viewer will do the rest.

At this point put him up where you can stand back and look at him to see if there is anything glaringly missing from him but if you don’t see something don’t go making things up and fiddle with the picture until you have over worked it. If you are looking for things to do, you are finished!

I will do a demo on Monday but we are done with the project for this semester. If you need help with starting a painting on your own, bring in examples of what you want to do either from publications or your own photos and I will help you get started.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall 08 Week 2 Projects

Fall 08 Class Projects

Week 2: “Rays” Acrylic

We started both the textured version and the regular canvas in much the same way, about the only difference is a bit of technique because of the texture so I will give general directions here for both but if I feel that there is something different between the two, I will make note of it.

After assessing my dry background I felt it needed a bit more sand “feel” before I moved on to the rays. Using a #10 bristle brush, I mixed burnt sienna and white with just a touch of blue to grey it but keep it on the warm side, using a very light dry brush stroke tried to create the feel of rippled sand under the water. This is a highlight don’t get carried away with this it is just a suggestion but it will give a bit more depth and dimension to you sand. Think ripples that move back and forth as the water washes over them. They are gentle shapes that move back and forth. If you want, you can also add some darker blue/greens in places to make it look like there are deeper pits in the sand. Do as much or as little as you feel comfortable with however, you need to get enough movement in the sand before you move on.

If you are working on the texture you want to just skim the very tops of the resin sand with this color, remember to keep your brush dry, too much paint or too much water in your paint will cause the application to be too solid especially if you tend to be a bit heavy handed the key here is “light and dry” and in a sense the same can be said if you are on a regular canvas, you’ve got to have a very light touch and a very dry brush so keep your paper towel handy, if you rinse your brush, make sure it is well dried before picking up more paint, when you’ve loaded it with color, wipe off the excess before you start to apply it to your painting.

Let your painting dry. If you are working on a regular canvas, find your drawing and/or reference material, you next step is to sketch the rays onto your canvas using the soft vine charcoal or a charcoal pencil. You don’t need to draw all the rays on if you are using a smaller canvas but you do want to fill up the space on your canvas with the rays so they don’t look like minnows in a pond just be careful to leave them some room for them to “swim” into at the front, in other words, don’t get them too close to the left edge. Remember if you put this in a frame, you will loose at least a ¼” all the way around, if your rays are too close their noses could be either “bumping” into the frame or cut off by it, this is good to remember regardless of what you are painting if even if you are painting on a wrapped canvas, you don’t want things swimming out of your picture.

Once you have your sketch on, blow the excess charcoal dust off your painting. It won’t hurt your paint but too much of it can change the color a bit though since this is an under painting it isn’t critical but it is a good habit to get into. I used the same colors on both the textured and regular canvas so again, what I write here goes for both.

I mixed sienna with a touch of blue and purple and a little touch of white. This color should be fairly dark however, if your background is dark – and I noticed that many had backgrounds darker than mine which is okay just means they are in deeper water – you want to make the rays just a shade or two lighter than your back ground, if your background is lighter like mine the reverse is true the rays should be a shad or two darker. Remember we work light against dark and dark against light. Just don’t get it too light or you will have no place to go with your shading.

This color is under painting for the rays so when I was putting it on my canvases I wasn’t really worried about the individual rays, I just wanted to get my canvas covered. If you are working on the texture be sure to get all sides of the rays covered because you are working on a 3D surface and be sure to get all the white covered so you don’t have halos around your rays, I don’t think they are that saintly J.

I stitched to a # 6 bristle brush and was scrubbing the color on but was a bit more careful to follow the shape of my rays especially along the body, I tried to form my brush strokes to the shape of the ray and was less exacting in the wings. On the edges of the rays you might want to start by placing the flat edge along the outline of the ray and pull in, this will keep your edges soft. The important part of this step is to get the rays covered.

I let the under painting dry on the rays before I started the next step. If your paint hasn’t completely dried you can end up picking up more paint than you put down and ruin the density of the paint so let it dry.

Once it is dry we can now start defining the shapes of the individual rays. Using the same mixture of paint, add more white and a touch of sienna. You may still need little touches of blue or purple but you want this color to be a warm grey brown color it should be a shade or two lighter than what you just put on you will be using the dry brush technique so remember to dry your brush after rinsing it and wipe it out after you pick up paint.

Dry brush this color along the body and front parts of their wings. You may have to look at the picture page to see what I’m talking about. Don’t cover up all of your under painting this becomes some of the shadows in the bodies of the rays. If you have layers of rays or if you want to show that some are deeper than others you can add more blue and/or green to this color so it is just a bit darker than the one above it and/or you can add more white – just a touch, this isn’t the final highlight – and more sienna to make the top rays look like they are closer to the surface. This is just the start of the highlighting process so don’t try to do it all at once, you need the layers.

If you are working on the texture it is almost the same just be sure to fill in any holes with color and get the edges. Next week we do more highlighting and maybe finish the Rays.

As a side note, I received an e-mail from Golden’s paints announcing that they have come up with an acrylic paint they call “Open”. It is a new type of acrylic paint that is very slow drying – up to an hour they say – and if you are more of an oil painter, you might want to check out this new paint the link to the article is:

Week 2: The Bull Fighter – Watercolor

I started out working on the details of my bull fighter
before I got into the cape because once we work on the cape most of the paper will be wet for quite a while and I don’t want to accidentally get hand prints in the red or drag red into my light areas, this way I can get a lot of work done before I have to let it dry.

I need to put shadows into the body and sleeves of the jacket. Since I’m am doing my jacket in a green color I don’t want to use purple to make the shadow color, remember that purple has red in it and red and green are complimentary colors and they tend to cancel each other out making a kind of muddy color, I want the color to still look green so instead of the purple I will use the blue to darken the green and less water so I don’t dilute it too much. The light is coming from the front of the bull fighter so his left side will be the lightest.

I used my angled shader but if you don’t have one you can start by using a small round brush. There is fringe along the edge of the capelet so you will need something you can do detail with so either the tip of the angle brush or a small round will do the job. You create the fringe by negative painting the fringe. What that means is you will be painting the dark shadows “under” the fringe that shows up “in-between” the strands of the fringe. I have posted an example on the picture page so you can see in detail what I am talking about (see link above).

When I have painted the fringe shadow area on the body of the jacket I picked up more of my dark green/blue mixture and painted the shadows on the side of the body next to the arm. It should be pretty dark as the material goes behind the arm and as it comes to the front of the jacket, add a little more water to make it lighter though you want to increase the intensity of the color to give it a richness so not too much water. If you want to make it look like it might be velvet pat the color on instead of brushing it on, this will give it some texture. Add little bits of this dark color around the edges of the brocade trim of the jacket just remember to blend out the color as it moves away from the brocade.

The shadows of the sleeve were done in much the same way starting under the fringe but instead of the green I added a touch of purple to the skin color to give me a shadow color for the yellow. The skin color is a mix of crimson, (if you have it) pthalo yellow green, if you don’t, use sap green and a touch of yellow. Again, you will need to use a small point to negatively paint the fringe. Once away from the fringe use either the whole brush (angled brush) or switch to a larger brush and paint this color down the back side of the sleeve, rinse your brush and with just water, blend it around to the front of the sleeve.

I also used this color to do the inside of his jacket and the shadow on the underside of the capelet. You can also use this color to make some creases in the yellow part of the big cape just remember to blend them out with plain water to soften them.

Since you have that skin color mixed, use some of it to darken the shadows on the face and hands. This will go on the right side of his head, along the forehead next to the cap, where his eyes are, the right side of the nose and remember, we are just suggesting facial features (see example on picture page) he is way too small for detail. Also ad a bit of this to the back of his hand then bleed it out with clear water.

The detail on the sleeves and brocade look complicated but really they are not, all they are, are shapes suggesting patterns in the material. You will use that dark green shadow color for some of the shapes and a watered down version for the rest of the shapes. These are just lines, curves and dots of different degrees of value that when viewed as a whole (this is key) will look like an intricate pattern in the material. Look at the example. It may appear that I did a lot of work but really, I didn’t, I just wanted to suggest detail not actually do it.

Now we are into the red cape, be sure that your jacket and face are dry before you start this process or you could run into problems, also the yellow part of the cape if you worked on it.

If you want, you can wet the red part of the cape with water first, if you do, take the water out beyond the end of the cape but not all the way to the edge of the paper, you want that part dry. Use a big brush if you have it at least a half inch or bigger. You want to cover this area quickly so you can do everything you need to before it starts to dry.

Load your brush well with your napthol (Windsor or Grumbacher) red, starting on the cape that is around the bull fighter paint this areas and work your way to the end of the cape. This color should be very intense. Once you have covered all of the cape, you might want to turn the painting upside down before the next color is added.

Rinse your brush and pick up your cad orange. You need to load your brush with color again because it will be very hard to add color later. Apply this color just inside the back edge of the cape. Your brush should be literally dripping with water and color as you mix the orange into the red and the red needs to still be wet. You want these colors to run so if you are working flat, prop up the back of your painting with something at least 4” or more. Paint the orange around the end of the cape and up to the body of the bull fighter then out into the empty space about a brush width. Rinse your brush and do a similar thing with your brush dripping with yellow paint at just the margin between the orange and the dry white paper. Add enough water with color so the paint will drip. Lift and tilt the paper, add touches of water to get the drips going. If a drip runs across your bull fighter, keep a paper towel handy and quickly wipe it away. As long as he is dry, you should be able to get most of it off problems occur when the drip runs through a damp area.

In the front of the fighter, pick up some more of your orange with lots of water. You may want to turn your paper so the paint will run away from him and from about his head down, paint right along the edges of his body down just past the yellow part of the cape. Rinse your brush pick up yellow and add it to the outside edge of the orange and let it run, you want drips.

If you want and if your cape is still wet, you can add a little salt right where the orange and the red come together. Clean up any runs across your guy and let this dry.

Next week we will do a few more details but he should be done. Start looking for your own projects to finish the off semester.