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.