Monday, December 28, 2009
Don't for get that I will be teaching watercolor up at the PV Art Center and I believe that they will keep registration open until the first day (wish Torrance would take heed), so it my Monday watercolor class is closed at Torrance, I will be teaching at PVAC all day on Tues. Classes there a 3 hours long and run for 10 weeks so they do cost a bit more but you do get more. Call for information at: 310-541-2479 the class I will be teaching is currently listed as Cathy Cangro's watercolor classes.
Hope to see you all in the New Year. Have a Happy and Creative New Year!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Just wanted to let you know that there is good news and bad on the registration front at Torrance. Good news is that I have enough people in the acrylic class signed up already that we shouldn't have any problems with the class going the whole semester. Watercolor is a different story.
Right now there are only 5 people signed up and we need at least 4 more to make our minimum for the class, we are also on the deadline of Jan 4th for the cutoff when they start closing classes so please, if you were planning to take the watercolor class, sign up ASAP so our class doesn't close. They are becoming very hard nosed about under enrolled classes and are giving us very little wiggle room.
So grab a friend and give each other the gift of art classes.
Thanks to all of you and have a great Holiday and a Happy New Year! See ya soon.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Just wanted to let you know that I am now the President of the Torrance Artist's Guild.
The Guild has been around for a long time and is a great place for artists in the South Bay to gather, talk to other artists, learn about all things art and enter friendly competitions. Yet, in spite of all the benifits the Guild brings to it's members, when the President was asking for someone to step forward to take over her job, no one would.
I wasn't sure that I would be good choice for the group because my participation is minimal at best - I usually go to the holiday potluck - but by the last meeting when they were suppose to vote on the new board and no one had stepped up, there was just no way I was going to let the group disband for lack of a leader. So at least for the next year or so, the Guild is safe.
I would like to encourage all of you to come to meetings, you don't have to join unless you want to but you get to see what other artists in the community are doing, there is usually a good demo on a wide variety of media and you can see how different artist handle their chosen medium that might be different from what you've seen before.
Meetings are on the second Tues of the month at the Ken Miller Rec Center right behind the Plunge in Torrance at Torrance blvd and madrona Ave. The general meeting usually starts around 7 pm-ish, take in is at 6:30 and there is a short business meeting before the demo. Members will bring their art and the demonstrator will judge for 1st, 2nd, 3rd 4th and HM but there is a people's choice everyone gets to vote on both members and non-members.
Remember to get signed up for classes ASAP and keep your cameras handy for any great pictures you see before class. Have a great holiday no matter what you celebrate. See you soon.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
I just want to encourage you to get enrolled now before it gets too late. You might put your art classes on your gift list or give the gift of an art class to a friend or loved then you can take a class together.
I just don't want you to wait too long then have the class you wanted to take close before you get a chance to sign up, remember they will close classes a week before the semester starts so don't be late.
Thanks to those of you who have already signed up especially in the acrylic class, we only need a couple more in that class but watercolor needs to get going.
Stay warm while you paint. See you soon. - LP
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I just want to remind everyone that registration is open for residents of Torrance now and will be open for non-residents next Tues (Dec 8th) for more info you can go to: www.TorranceCA.gov.com and go to classes. If you have a registration number you can register on line. Or you can phone the office at 310-618-2720 have your credit card handy. The numbers for my classes are: Acrylic 3126.101 Watercolor 3127.101 These numbers can be found on page 13 of the "Season's" catalog. Be sure that the person you are talking to has the right class, there has been a problem with them adding people to closed classes or telling potential students that my class has closed when it hasn't, this will be especially true the week before classes start.
Also remember that they close under enrolled classes the week before classes start so if you are thinking of taking any classes over there or if you know someone who is thinking of taking classes, be sure to register ASAP so your classes don't get closed for lack of enrollment.
If Mondays aren't good for you I want to remind everyone that I will be teaching watercolor on Tuesdays all day up at the PV Art Center starting in January. I will be taking over Cathy Cangro's class which she will start and I will step in. You do not have to be a PVAC member to take a class there but if you are you do get a member's discount. They are taking registration now by phone 310-541-2479 or FAX 310-541-9520 with credit card or you can mail or walk in to the lobby to sign up. The address is PVAC 5504 W. Crestridge Rd. Rancho Palos Verdes Ca 90275. If you have never been there and want to sign-up in person, it is almost at the top of Crenshaw Blvd at the last signal, make a right then an immediate left into the parking lot. I past it several times because it is kinda hard to see.
I also wanted to let you know that if you have a Facebook account, I have started a group called - what else - ArtbyLerri. It is to show the projects I am working on and to discuss art topics. Right now I am just posting my own work but if there is enough interest, I can start an albumn for everyone to post to maybe to get some feed back. Anyway, I'd love to have some fans that weren't family.
Have a great holiday and happy New Year, I hope I will see all of you in one of my classes.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I just wanted to let you know that, at least for now, KOCE ch. 50 out of Orange County is running art programming Monday thru Thursday at noon.
Though the artists that are currently being featured are oil and acrylic painters (Bob Ross, Jerry Yarnell and Wyland), there is still much to learn from watching them from design, subject matter and color mixing to name a few. If they keep the art programming going, they could also have watercolorists on as well. I just don't know how long this lapse in fund raising 24/7 will last but you need to take advantage of it while we are off.
I did send out a msg to my acrylic painters earlier and I hope they take advantage of it, however, exposing yourself to other artists and media is good no matter what you use. Two artist I think really help those who are just learning are Jerry Yarnell, acrylics, and Terry Madden, watercolor, though Terry isn't on right now, just keep an eye out for him. Sue Schwee is also another one to watch for she works in watercolor and acrylics and she has some good ideas for beginners, her style is more to the arts and crafts side, but I have learned a lot from watching her over the years.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't go back to their tired old "send us money" programming, maybe if they can keep the shows I watch on I will send them something again. Keep painting and enjoy your time off.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
To all my students: Monday will be our last class for the semester, I encourage you to bring in something for critique because it is a good way to learn what you are doing right and what you could improve on. Bring something you really like or bring in your "problem child" you will be amazed how supportive the class is and what you can learn.
Many of my acrylic students still feel the need to do a detailed drawing before they ever start a picture, there is nothing wrong with a detailed drawing per se, but it is like trying to work shackled for most people because they are so afraid to loose their drawing that it ends up looking like paint by number and not at all like what they see in their mind. The drawing should just be there as a guide, a reason we use the vine charcoal or chalk to sketch in our design, it should not be chiseled in stone, as it were, because the drawing is not the important part, the finished painting is what should be important. If you are constantly worrying about the drawing, the painting can suffer.
I did a demo on skies using some existing rocks I had on my canvas from a previous demo. In the first example, I painted around what I had on the canvas. While not bad, it had a more impressionistic feel to it, if impressionism is what you want, then by all means, go for it, however, it has been my experience teaching that for beginners or people who are struggling, they want to do things that are more realistic yet are so afraid to start a painting without a detailed drawing and following it to the "T" they get impressionism whether they want it or not or worse, the drawing tends to make them want to finish sections as they go and there is an inconsistency in their painting from start to finish: some areas are over worked and some are under worked the result is not pleasing.
In the second demo I did, I ignored the rocks that were there and just painted my sky right over them, my only concern was the sky. I used my soft 2" blending brush starting with some gesso where my sky would be then adding color into the gesso and blending it with big "X" strokes. You can get some really nice skies using this technique but it does take practice because it requires a very light touch. Once I had my sky in, I went back and repainted the rocks and twigs, this sky looks like it is behind the rocks as it should be.
As I always tell you: There is no one right way to do anything, the right way is what is right for you but if you are unsatisfied with your painting, you need to try other methods until you do find something that pleases you.
Acrylic students, don't stop reading because much of what I am going to say about distance applies to all media not just watercolor.
I asked the class if there was anything that they would like to see a demo on, when one person said "How do you get distance in a painting?" there was a murmur of agreement. I will have to agree that one of the common problems I see with my students in both classes is when they are doing landscapes in particular, but with most of their painting in general, is being able to create the illusion of distance in their painting. I say "illusion" because we are really trying to trick the viewers mind that there is great depth in our painting even though it is on a 2 dimensional surface.
You often hear me refer to Betty Edward's book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain", if you haven't read it I strongly suggest that you get it and read it. While I'd hope that you would follow the exercises as you read it, just reading the book will give you a good insight into how your brain works. She bases her ideas on studies done with people who have had brain injuries or surgeries where each hemisphere is working separately from the other. For most of us, we live in our left brains most of the time otherwise we would never get anything done, the right side is sort of a background program so we can move thru space or recognize a friend. The short version is the left brain has its own "short hand" for the things it encounters in day to day living, this allows it to recognize things name it and move on, the problem for artists is this short hand lacks detail, for example, grass is green so therefore all grass is green and let's move on. While this might be okay when you are driving down the street, it you want to paint that street, well that's a different story, because the grass isn't always green, the right side sees the nuance, the detail, the beauty. Unfortunately, for most beginners, the left side has control of the brush so paint the grass green and be done with it!
When you have quiet time, and I'm talking time to just sit and let your mind wander (this is a right brain activity), look out into the distance. What do you see? Don't actually try to name it that is left brain, but think about the color and where you would find it on your palette. If you were looking out towards Catalina for instance, you would probably note that it is a soft bluish or grey color, it may even be a warm reddish color depending on the time of day. You will see little, if any, detail, it will mostly be a light colored shape. When you go to paint this scene, try to bring that image to mind because your left brain knows that it is brown dirt with green plants and grasses that would look just the same as the stuff right next to you.
Keep this phrase running thru you brain when you are painting: Things in the distance are lighter, greyer, lack detail and appear smaller and closer together (think phone poles or fence lines going off in the distance). If everything in your painting is the same color and the same value (light or dark), you painting will appear flat. Start off in soft bluish/grey tones and add color as you move into the mid-ground. Just suggest distant objects and save the detail and saturated colors for the foreground.
In the demo, I started off with a light blue/purple wash to do my first line of mountains. The next ridge of mountains I added more color but it was still in blues and purples but it is still very light. The third ridge I added green to get a soft grey green color and used the edge of my brush to suggest tops of distant trees, still pretty light. The forth ridge, I added more green and detail and is a couple shades darker than the previous layer but still on the grey side. For the final layer, I used green with blue in a more concentrated form and created several closer trees. They are much darker and detailed then the previous layer, however, if I wanted to, I could still add things to the foreground that are closer yet. This works in all media because it is the illusion we are going for not the type of paint we are using.
We will be off for a couple of months so I hope that everyone keeps on painting and looking for that next project, remember I will just be doing specific demos from now on, not a class project so you need to start now finding something you want to paint. I also want to remind everyone to register for class as soon as you can. DO NOT WAIT until the last minute because they will close classes a week before classes actually start. Registration for Torrance residents starts Dec 1st, non residents on Dec 8th. Classes start week of Jan 10th. Bring your friends.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Acrylic Project Week 4 – "Feed Us!"
This was the final day for the Koi. Basically, I should be done with all the under painting at this point so I can do the finishing touches and highlight, what I need to do is stand back and look at my over all picture and I mean that literally. Get up and stand at least 6' away from your painting to look at it. 6' is the typical distance a viewer will be when looking at a painting, it is important for you as a painter to get up and look at your painting from a distance rather than focusing on one small area at a time which is what you do when you are sitting right next to it as you paint. Of course you are going to see all the "flaws" because you are on top of them but before you try to correct or fix these flaws, get up and look at the overall picture, 90% of the time these "flaws" will disappear or enhance the painting in some way, nit picking away at every little thing will make your painting look over worked and tight, as my mother often tells me: "It's a painting, dear, not a photograph!"
I need to make sure that I have all my lights and shadows to the value (lightness or darkness) that I want them and that my fish are the right colors. Where I needed to brighten on the heads and backs of the orange fish I used orange and yellow, the red fish cad red and orange. The white fish I just wiped out the paint from my brush and mixed in some white, what was on my brush was enough to tint the white for the light areas on its back. The fancy fish was a combination of the orange and white fish.
An observation I made as I walked around the room was impatience. I know that when you aren't painting something that you are emotionally connected to it is more like root canal but when you try to take short cuts and do finishing work before you get the foundation of your painting completed, whether it is the class project or your own, the only thing you are going to accomplish is frustrating your selves. I try to paint in a logical way so you can see how to build you painting much like a house: putting down a good foundation, building the framing, plastering the walls, adding the roof and finally adding the decorations and furniture. Yet, I see many of you who have barely got the walls up on your painting, moving the furniture in and wanting to know if it is done! If you enjoy sitting in an unfinished house with the rain pouring in, well, yes, you are done.
This goes for all forms of art and all media. You need to learn patience and allow the process to come to is natural conclusion no matter what you are doing, even abstract. Rushing to the end is only going to make your painting look incomplete because it is. You will be frustrated and that frustration will only magnify itself in your next painting. Most of you don't have any deadlines to meet with your paintings so why rush to get to the end? Enjoy and learn from each step and you will be rewarded in the long haul as you watch your paintings and your techniques, evolve and improve.
Back to the task at hand, once I have my foundation painting where I think it needs to be, my next step is adding highlights and finishing detail, this is also where I finally broke out my small, round sable brush. First I loaded the tip of it with white paint and put highlights in the eyes of each fish. I just barely touched the canvas with the paint so I only left a little in each eye. That dot of white brings life to the eyes so it is important. Next I looked or other areas that could use a highlight like the "lids" over the eyes or the tops of the lips, edges of fins or tail, these are quick "dots and dashes" of light to bring form and life to the fish. Use yellow with a little touch of orange on the tip of the small brush and apply the paint rather thick on the orange fish, do the same on the red fish using mostly orange with some cad red on the red fish, wipe out your brush and mix what is in the brush with the white for the white fish again applying the paint thickly. Don't spend a lot of time on this, it is quick little applications of paint. Don't forget the fancy fish.
Some of the fish are very near the surface and are causing ripples, on the orange fish I used pure cad yellow to paint the rings of ripples near the heads. Please not that the rings are not round, connected nor smooth. The fish are moving and disturbing the surface and the ripples, it looks more natural to break up the rings or just to suggest the rings rather than to complete the rings. On the white fish and fancy fish, I used straight white for the ripples. Next to each ripple which is basically the top of a tiny wave catching the light, there is a shadow in the trough between the ripples. For the yellow ripples I used touches of cad red along one side but only in a few places, I mixed a grey using white, blue and cad red for the shadow troughs on the white ripples. I let things dry and gave it one last look for anything I might have missed before I signed it and applied a layer of varnish.
Next week you are on your own. Please bring in your own project to paint I will do a demo on rocks.
Watercolor Project Week 4 – "Torrance Turtle"
The turtle is almost done, there are a few things left to paint and some final detail with a pen and it will be done. However before you read on, please go up to the acrylic notes and read the 3rd and 4th paragraphs because this applies to all media not just the acrylic students.
The first thing I did this week was address the rock problem. As noted in last week's blog, I needed a way to make the rock stand out from the background. Since I wanted the rock to look sunlit, I chose to negative paint the rock which means painting the water behind it. Using cobalt blue on the tip of my brush, I ran a line of color in the water area up the rock in front of the turtle to about his knee. I rinsed my brush then with a damp, clean brush (wipe out excess water) I blended the color into the water area and let it dry.
In the rock itself, I picked up a little bit of what I call "palette grey". It is what I find on the cool side of my palette and is a mix of everything I've been working with. I just need a little bit of color so if I find a nice light grey, I work it into the tip of my angle brush it is a great thing when you need some subtle shading like on these rocks. Look at the reference photo or go look at the actual rocks, you will notice that there a shallow indent where bits of rock have flaked off, you see them because of the light shadow under the lip where they chipped off, this is what I will use this color to suggest in a few places. I put the whole brush on the paper with the tip that has the color where I want the shadow to be and drag it along to suggest a slight indent.
Next I painted in the shadow of the turtle. Shadows are important in a painting because they anchor the subject and they suggest a direction of the light not to mention add drama and interest to a painting. I first drew the shape of my shadow using the photos as my reference then using purple with a touch of blue I painted the shadow. The turtle isn't sitting flat on the rock, his under shell is balanced on a couple of ridges front and back so you can see the water behind the rock. If the turtle was sitting flat, the shadow would be very dark right under it and get lighter as it goes away from the turtle because of scattered light, however, because the turtle is slightly elevated over the rock, some of that scattered light is getting into the shadow so it isn't as dark in the cast shadow, so the shadow will look a bit bluish and that's okay. Blue and purple are your natural shadow colors so you need them when painting a shadow.
This is where I got out the permanent ink marker – fine line – to add lines and detail to the turtle. I outlined with a broken line the outside of the turtle, around the plates of the shell, added wrinkles to his feet and head basically looked for places where I could add detail or the suggestion of detail like ridges on the shell plates or defining his toes. I also did some work on the rock. Do as much or as little as you feel necessary.
In the background, I drew in a few lily pads and some lilies that grow in the pond across the way. I also suggested waterfalls with the ink and once I had them drawn in, I went back in with a little paint to add color to the pads and shadows under the pads and fall spray also negative painted behind the top of the spray dragging some of the color up to suggest water. You don't have to do this and only do as much as you want. My painting is finished at this point except picking out a highlight in his eye with a pointy Exacto blade.
Next week have something of your own to paint. We have 3 weeks left in class.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Acrylic Week 3 – "Feed Us!"
This week was the final layer before we do the final highlights and finish this project up. What we are looking for is where we can brighten the bodies of our fish to give them a more rounded look and where we can enhance the shadows. We also are basing in the fins – finally – the tails, and the eyes.
First to brighten the colors, basically all I did was add more of the colors I've already been using. Remember that acrylics dry darker and they are also transparent so what is underneath a layer of color will effect what is above it, much like watercolor and acrylics can be used like watercolor by adding thin layers called "washes" to get the desired affect. For us, our goal is the get enough layers so that the suspended pigments overlap enough to make a more solid color in the places where we need it. Some of that darkened color works to our advantage in the shadow areas or as texture, that is why we don't want to cover it all up each time, just build on it.
On the orange fish I used mostly the orange, cad red and on the tops, a touch of yellow. If I needed it on the sides, I would pick up some napthol red or crimson though I did blend it in well with the other lighter colors. Keep the sides darker.
The red fish was more napthol, cad light on the top, crimson in the shadows and touches of orange on the very top if I needed it lighter but I did blend it in very well. This fish will always be darker, sort of a mystery fish, don't get it so light that it looses that mystery.
The white fish is still not white. By that I mean I am still mixing the white with touches of blue and cad red light, it is lighter than the last layer but it isn't white/white. You must have dark to show light, if you are too light at this point, you will have no where to go with your highlights. Remember that this fish is ever so slightly orange so keep your color on the orange side of grey (white, ultra marine blue and cad red light)
The fancy fish at the top is a combination of the orange fish and the white fish, again, don't get the white areas too white just yet, just brighten the value of the colors already there.
I did notice that a couple of you were having trouble mixing this grey color and the common factor was the blue you were using. Each color is ever so slightly different from the next but those differences can cause a huge difference in the outcome. I use almost exclusively (French) Ultra Marine Blue, though upon occasion I might add cobalt blue or cerulean to my palette, generally speaking I use ultra marine blue because it is a more true blue and a more natural blue. Those who were having problems were using Pthalo blue and pthalo is a color that comes straight from the lab. Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful color but it is a devil to mix with! It tends to be on the green side which makes it good for tropical skies, seas and peacocks but when you mix it with white it turns turquoise, add cad red and you get mud because you have then added all 3 primary colors together (Phathlo = blue + yellow, Cad red = red + yellow, blue+red+yellow=mud). While mixing UM Blue and cad red is still mixing the 3 primaries, there isn't as much yellow in the blue to add to what is already in the cad red so the mudding of the color is workable. If you don't have ultra marine blue, you should get some to add to your palette.
Another problem I saw as I walked around was that several of you have Basic paints on your palette. You can use these but be aware that the way they are made, they have less pigment in them than most other brands of paints including the student grades of other brands. On the equipment sheet I give out, I do not recommend the Basic brand because to get the same results you get with other brands you have to add twice as many layers or more. Yes, they are cheap, but are they really when you consider the amount of paint you need to use to do the same thing other brands do in less and each layer you have to put on also takes time so you end up doing repetitive layers, seeming to get nowhere and your frustration levels go up and you get bored with your painting. I use it with gesso to tone a canvas and I know others who use it in printing, but it really doesn't work well in this technique.
After I had gone over each fish to brighten the colors, the next thing I did was take my chalk and place the fins, the tail and the eyes. The reason I waited until now is because each painting will be different and the placement of my fish in this painting is a bit different from the example I painted. Saving the fins until the end lets me paint the fish without worrying if the fin it too far forward or too far back or even if it shows at all! It is why I suggested that you forget about the fins and just paint the whole fish and worry about the fins later, yet many of you left spaces that once you got to the point where you needed to do the fins, the spaces you left for them weren't in the right place! If this is the case, fill in those spaces before painting your fins and you will struggle less.
When you are sketching in the fins and especially when you are painting them, remember that the fish are constantly moving. Parts of a tail may go in opposite directions, if you need to, go out and look at the fish and watch how they move. The fancy fish looks like a dancer but all of them are very fluid in their movements. Also notice how transparent the fins are. There are ribs down them that support the webbing in the fins that has color, but the webbing between the ribs is almost transparent, this is what you want to get on your painting.
When you sketch in the eyes, keep in mind that you aren't seeing them from the side so all the eyes will be slightly oblong, don't make them round as that is your left brain speaking, don't listen to it.
After you have everything sketched in, you will need to base the fins in using a "dry brush" technique. Rinse your brush out really well, then dry it completely especially around the metal part, any water in your brush will cause you problems. On the orange fish, I loaded my brush with cad red but after I loaded it I wiped it so there wasn't any excess paint, then flattened and spread the bristles using my fingers. I'm still using the same brush by-the-way, you can try using a fan brush, just keep in mind it tends to leave the same pattern of the brush if you aren't careful.
Starting on the outside of the fin or tail, I lightly touched the canvas and pulled in toward the "arm" of the fin or toward the body if it was the tail, quickly lifting my brush off the canvas. This is a very light touch so you might want to practice on some paper or a scrape canvas. Touch, pull and lift. The harder you touch the more paint will come off and the more congested with color the area will look. Also, if your brush is too wet, more paint will come off that you didn't want. Keep your brush dry, use little paint and use a light touch, it will come with practice.
The orange fish I started with the cad red on the top part of the tail fin and napthol on the bottom part so that it almost disappears into the water. The red fish, I started with napthol and went to crimson, on the white fins an light grey (white, blue and cad red) to a darker grey (more blue).
The eyes I did different than I usually do, I used the black gesso I used in the background. I also used the black to clean up any edges and to suggest the mouth openings and if I got any of the fins too congested with color, I dry brushed in some dark.
Next week, we finish up the koi so you will need to find your own project to get started on.
Watercolor Week 3 – "
We are almost done with the turtle (stop the cheering ;-) but we still have a few things left to do. Since everyone seemed to be working well on their own, I just painted on the turtle and didn't really do a demo mostly because it was repetitive from last week. I did finish painting the plates of the upper shell then I painted the flesh parts of the turtle to get all of him based in.
The second verse was the same as the first, I went in and added another layer or color to the whole turtle, this increases the value of the color and the intensity of the color. Look at last week's stopping point and see how the turtle is almost the same value as the background, now look at this week's. See how the turtle pops off the background? This is because the value of the color is deeper, more intense than the background. You need to have contrast in your painting to show dimension and dark to show light.
I also went in and deepened some of the shadows under the shell on the turtle. This helps to create separations between the shell and the fleshy parts of the turtle.
In the spaces between the plates on his shell, I use a mix of sienna and purple to get a dark brown color. I used a ¼" angle brush to get into the smaller areas between the plates but I didn't worry about being precise, just put it on and don't worry about it.
The yellow parts of the shell need some shadows not only under the turtle but also where the separate plates join together there are slight cracks, for this I use a very dilute mix of what was on my brush and a touch of purple. This is a very light wash so don't get it too dark.
The last thing I did was lay a wash of color on the rock. First I wet the rock area with clear water avoiding the feet and toes. Next with a very thin mix of blue and sienna (it should look like a cool grey) I went over the whole rock area and while it was wet, I did a couple of things: First I dropped some other colors into the wet, any color I used in the splatter is fine and when I say drop, I mean drop. Lots of water with the color so it is dripping off your brush and don't mess with it. When the rock was starting to dry (loose it's sheen) I sprinkled some salt into the drying paint and let it dry completely. I did this with the paper almost flat on the table, btw.
When it was totally dry, I assessed the progress of my painting and realized that the rock was now about the same value as the background so something is going to have to change. I did lift off a bit of color on the top of the rock in front of the turtle but that is where I stopped and I will address this issue on Monday.
I will finish up the turtle on Monday and will be using a Sharpie. You might want to find your own project to work on when we finish.
Have a great weekend everyone, see you Monday.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
More often than not, when I get home and set my paintings up to write up the blog notes, I will see something that bothers me about a painting I'm doing. It is not easy to try and talk and paint at the same time because it uses 2 different sides of the brain: When I drift off in the middle of a sentence, my right brain has kicked in and the speech (left) side of my head goes quiet and my train of thought gets derailed. When I'm focused on what I'm saying, my painting suffers. This is what happened the first week with the Koi. When I came home I realized that the white fish was straight up and down and that the nose was even with the orange fish and the tails of the 3 orange/red fish where all lined up. This is not good composition. So I made some changes.
I took my chalk and adjusted the line of my white fish and brought the nose down a bit and then I used my black gesso to paint out any of the white that fell outside those new lines. I also adjusted some of the lines on the orange and red fishes so there appeared to be more movement. Remember that fish are constantly moving and you need to suggest that in your painting. Don't be afraid to change something if it will help your painting, it is part of the learning process.
When I got in to class I filled in the white fish to get it back to the point it was with the new corrections before finishing the first layer of under painting.
Before I go on, I have noticed that several of you just don't believe me. If you look at the points where we stopped each week, you will notice that I painted right over where a fin overlaps another fish, yet when I look around the class, every one is carefully painting around those areas. The reason I am not worried about the fins right now is I need the color underneath the fin so it won't look like it has been cut and pasted on to the painting. Acrylic dry fast so you can paint over them with no problems unlike oils or watercolor though you can even do a similar thing in oils. You want/need that color under the fin so don't paint around it.
The red fish was painted using the crimson, napthol and cad red light with the occasional touch of blue in the shadows. This fish is much darker and it has spots. Just like the fins, I'm not worried about spots right now, it will be one of the last things I do on this painting, right now I' trying to establish a base color and shadows. Starting on the left side with crimson and a touch of blue, still using the same brush I started with, I painted the side. When I got near the top it was napthol and a touch of crimson. On the very top it was napthol and a touch of cad red. This fish will appear darker than the other fish and that's okay.
I also finished filling in the fancy fish on top using mostly cad red and a touch of orange on top and cad red with crimson in the shadows.
Now that everything is based in, I can start the brightening process.
Acrylics are somewhat transparent and when they dry, they will always dry darker. Just when you think that something is looking good, you will come back and it has gotten dull, it is just the nature of the beast. To counter this tendency, much like a watercolorist, we need to add layers to our painting to brighten the color, yet some of that under painting will show thru and help build depth in our painting. So the purpose of the layers isn't to totally cover the under painting but just enough to strengthen the values and intensity of the subject we are painting.
On the two orange fish, I used mostly the cad red and napthol on the sides and some orange and cad red on the top, making sure that I blended the areas of transition between the light top and the shadowed sides, you don't want a striped fish. On the white fish, still a bit on the grey side but this time I used white, a touch of blue and orange as my base adding more blue in the shadows and more white on the top. This fish has an orange tinge but still generally looks white so go easy on the orange. This layer should be at least a shade lighter than the under painting especially on the top of the fish. Follow a similar color combination for the orange areas of the fancy fish and basically white and blue with a touch of sienna in the white areas. Nothing is totally white at this point so be sure that you have grayed the color slightly. You must have dark to show light. Straight white is the final highlight.
The red fish is basically the same colors you used before just use a bit more napthol and cad red and less crimson and no blue. This fish will stay darker than all the others.
This is where I finished for the day. We may have one or two more sessions on this project so you need to start looking for something you want to paint, that way I can help you get started on it and you will have something to paint over the holiday break.
The first thing I did was to remove ALL of the masking I had on my painting. That includes the turtle and the rocks we should be able to do any adjusting around the turtle without the mask at this point.
The next thing I did was to start the process of establishing my shadows on the turtle. This step can be done later, I just like to start getting the feeling of a 3Dimentional subject. You will need to look at the reference photo and really study it to see where there are subtle shadows and where the darkest shadows are. The lighter shadows are called "form shadows", the darker ones are "cast shadows" both are important when you are wanting to create dimension in your painting.
For the shadows I used a mix of purple and a touch of blue, very dark right under the shell the back front leg and under the neck, lighter along the back and sides of the shell, underneath the shell and shadows on the head and neck. I will probably go over these again later as the painting progresses, this is just the under painting.
After my shadows had dried, I painted the entire turtle with a wash of cad yellow light. The markings on the turtle are mostly yellow, if we paint the whole turtle now it adds value and well as color to our turtle and we won't have to try and paint in the yellow after we have dark around it because the dark usually will bleed into your lighter yellow areas no matter how careful you are.
When the yellow has dried, look at the reference photos again and notice the yellow stripes on the turtle. There are some obvious ones on the legs and neck, but there are some stripes in the shell as well. If you are more comfortable drawing in these stripes before you paint, now is the time. The stripes are probably more important on the skin rather than the shell so if you don't want to do the shell, that's okay.
When you have your lines drawn in, it is now time to start bringing this little guy to life. I started on the shell plates using a mix of sap green, blue and purple to give me a grey green color. Using my ½" angle brush, I loaded color mostly on the tip then placed the tip on the outside edge of one of the plates. The whole brush is on the paper and as you pull the tip along the outside edge, you should get a graded stroke. A couple things to remember here: Each of the plates on the shell is slightly mounded which means that it is higher in the middle than at the edges, also, they aren't all that smooth. They have ridges from growth and dings from wear and tear, if your strokes are uneven that is even better, it will give the shell some texture. Do each plate individually leaving a little space between them, we will do that later, check your reference photo often and if you want stripes in the shell, remember to paint around them (negative painting).
Next time we will finish painting in the green parts of the turtle and under paint the rock. We should finish this up in the next couple weeks so you might want to start looking for your next project.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Week 1 Acrylic Project: "Feed Us!"
We are painting on a black canvas and that has a couple challenges we don't usually have when painting on a white canvas the first is how to get the drawing on the black surface?
Since we usually use charcoal to draw on our design we need to use something else because black won't show up on black, so for a black or dark canvases we need to use a light colored piece of chalk or pastel, something that will show up on the dark and can easily be removed. Do not use a grease pencil. It will never come off and you can't paint over it. The chalk or pastel won't hurt you paint so you can paint right over it and if you need to make corrections it will come off with a damp paper towel.
For those who don't feel comfortable drawing the design on the canvas, there are other methods of getting the design on the canvas. You can take your design or picture and have it enlarged to the size you need or there are programs you can buy that will enlarge the photo for you and print it out on your computer (a good one that is a reasonable price is at http://www.postersw.com/) or you can work out the design on a separate piece of paper to the size you want but you still need to transfer it to your canvas. There are a couple methods you can use: One is to get some white transfer paper. It's like carbon paper but it should be oil and was free. Or you can turn it over and go over the back with white chalk, then put it on your canvas and draw with a dull point like a large Sharpie or the back end of a brush to get the image on your canvas.
Once you have your drawing on it is time to start painting. The first couple of weeks will be what is called an "Under Painting". We need to cover the canvas and establish the shapes and colors of our subjects. This is done in every painting medium I know and getting a good under painting is key to having a good finished painting. It is the foundation of your painting and if it is bad or missing you finished painting won't hold up, painting is a process and you must take it one step at a time, there are no quick fixes here.
I started on the orange fish using my #6 bristle filbert but you can use a #6 - #10 flat bristle brush and get a similar effect. I picked up cad(mium) red light (I'll just call it cad red here out), and a touch of burnt sienna at the same time, I will be "brush mixing" on the canvas for most of this painting, meaning I pick up two or more colors on my brush and mix them as I paint, not on my palette. This gives more variety and interest to a painting.
Starting at the back of the first fish, I just touched the end of it to the canvas and lift. If you are using a flat brush, load the paint mostly to one corner, turn the corner up and use a similar technique (see picture page, I used a #10 flat bristle brush for the example). This is more a touch-and-drag type of stroke, notice how the ends of the stroke fade out on the blue example, most students seemed to be using a stippling stroke where you are bouncing the brush up and down (orange example). You have less control of your stroke using stippling and it looks more textured, great for trees and bushes, not so much for fish.
Using those two colors, I painted the side of the fish all the way down to the mouth reloading paint frequently. Don't try to stretch you paint, we need to get this area covered so we don't have to do it over in the next layer.
When I got near the top of the fish, I used the cad red with a touch of Alizarin crimson and/or Napthol Red not the sienna. When I got to the top of the head and back I used orange and cad red. Around where the gills should be I used a touch of blue with the cad red and sienna, all of these areas were blended in to the neighbor areas using the same stroke so there were no hard transitions between colors, there are no hard edges on Koi so the transitions should be soft. The other orange fish was done in a similar way.
The white fish was under painted using a blue grey color. That is a mixture of white, ultra marine blue and sienna. Keep it to the blue side, darker on the sides (less white) and face of the fish, lighter (more white) to the top. Same applies to the white areas of the fancy fish at the top.
The fins can be painted in as well, notice that it is a more solid color near the body of the fish and streakier towards the edges of the fin. Use a dry brush technique for this meaning use a brush that is damp not dripping, very little paint and a light touch. This takes practice so you might want to get a spare canvas to practice on first. The harder you touch, the more paint will come off so a light touch is critical.
This is where we stopped. We will finish under painting the orange and white fish and the red fish next week and probably start the brightening process on the other fish.
Week 1 Watercolor Project: "
If you read the first few paragraphs of the acrylic blog, you will see that they have a similar problem to all watercolor painters: How do you get your design on your watercolor paper? The answers are also very similar with a couple other options. I have gotten away from working out my drawing on my watercolor paper for the most part, the reason for this is the surface of the paper is very delicate, if you erase too much or too hard, you can damage the paper causing all sorts of problems when you try to paint on it. I would rather work out my design on drawing paper or on tracing paper (sometimes both) so I can make adjustments and not have to worry the whole time about my paper. Once I get my design worked out there are a couple ways I can transfer it to my watercolor paper.
The first way is similar to what I suggested for the acrylic class. Make the design the size I need then using wax free graphite paper (DO NOT USE CARBON PAPER) you can find at most art stores, place it between the design and your paper and using a soft pencil or something with a rounded point like the end of a brush, transfer your design. Try not to press too hard or you will leave indents in your paper that will show when you don't want them to. When buying transfer paper be sure that it is "wax-free graphite paper", this is important because the wax will act as a resist leaving white lines on your paper. Carbon paper has oil in it and can cause similar problems and create a black mess.
If you don't have any transfer paper, you can use what I call the "poor man's" method: Turn you design over and using a soft graphite pencil (#4 or #6), cover the lines of your design with graphite using the side of the lead. Make sure that you have covered enough of the paper around the line – at least a ¼" – so when you transfer the drawing to your watercolor paper there is some "wiggle" room. When you have covered all your lines, place it on your watercolor paper and go over the lines like you would with transfer paper.
Another option is using a light box. I usually darken the lines of my design with a felt pen then place it under my paper either on a light box or, if I don't have access to one, a sun-lit window. You should tape both the design and the paper to the window to keep them from moving, but it does work well.
This painting is going to be started a bit different form other paintings we have done in the past, I like to show my students that they aren't boxed in to one way of doing things that, playing and experimenting is a good thing. Not everyone likes the same thing and doing paintings the same way day in and day out gets boring, we all occasionally need to loosen up and try doing something a different way. Sometimes we may even find something we really like to do. You won't know unless you try. So after doing this turtle in a more traditional way, I felt we needed to do it different.
I had my paper at a slight incline (a roll of tape works well) and I started out by lightly spraying my paper with water from my spray bottle. I did not spray the whole paper I only sprayed here and there because I wanted dry paper in places. Next, I mixed up some yellow paint with LOTS of water, I need my brush (I used a 1" wash brush) to be very drippy for this step and this is the only time you will hear me say "you need a drippy brush", most time we need to really control the water in our brush but not this time.
With my brush loaded with water and paint, I splattered my paper with this color by shaking my brush, you can also tap the brush handle on a finger or another brush handle or use a tooth brush, the goal is to splatter paint. I did the same with orange and red, just be careful, this can start to feel way too good and is easily over done. When you are done, your paper needs to dry completely. When you use watercolor you spend a lot of time waiting for the paper to dry, especially if you are using this kind of technique.
When you paper is totally dry – test it with the back of your hand, if it is cool to the touch it is still damp, you can use a hair dryer if you need to – use your masking fluid to protect the head down to about the shell and at least ½ inch along the top of the shell and the rock, cover the rest of the shell and rock with a paper towel because this time you will be splattering cool colors like blue, green and purple and we don't want to get any on the turtle or rock. Splatter the same way you did the warm colors and remember to not get carried away. Let this step dry completely before moving on.
The last thing we did on our first day was to suggest water behind the turtle and rock. Use a blue (ultra marine, cobalt, cerulean or any other blue you are using, thin it down with some water you want it light and transparent then starting near the rock and turtle, paint the area with this color. When you have the area around the turtle painted, rinse your brush and with a damp brush blend the outside edges of this color out until it just fades out leaving the white paper with splatters. Your paper must be dry before you do this step and do it quickly and don't fiddle with it, you want the splatters to show through and if you take too much time getting it "just right" you will end up with mud as you pull the splatters up into the blue paint.
Don't worry about the masking for now we will take it off next time. Be sure to check out the reference picture and download it if you haven't already, it is always good to have your reference handy and I don't think the turtle will sit still in class. See everyone Monday.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I have posted the projects on the picture page if you want to see what we are going to be doing for our projects. If you have problems downloading them or printing them, let me know.
See you all Monday.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Thank you all for your support and I will see you on the 21st.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Remember that they will close under enrolled classes Wed. the 16th so you need to get signed up now and encourge all your friends and neighbors. Thanks.
I will post the projects for this semester in a week or so. See you soon. - LP
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I hope to see everyone soon and I do appreciate all your efforts to keep our classes going, thanks.
On line registration or class info, click here.
Monday, August 31, 2009
If you are a non-resident you can start to register tomorrow - Sept 1st - so don't forget.
If you are planning on taking classes, I will post the new projects for this semester in a couple weeks, however, what I have planned will take some things I usually don't require so if you are out and about and happen to find yourself in an art store :-) here is what you need to look for:
Watercolor class, you will need to have some masking fluid. Try to find the kind without color in it, however, if all they have has color find one with either blue or yellow color, it won't cause you and many problems as the orange which I found can stain the paper defeating the purpose of using mask.
Acrylic class, you will need to get either black gesso (prefered) or black paint but the regular paint isn't as opaque so it doesn't cover as well, which means you will use more of the more expensive paint. If you don't want to use black, any dark color will work, gesso now comes in many colors but for this to work, you will need a dark color like blue, green or red. Walser's should have it if Micheal's doesn't and Aaron Brother's may also carry it. Let me know if you are having trouble finding it.
Again, gather your friends and get everyone signed up for classes! This is a great program we need to support it to keep it going. See ya all soon - I hope ;-)
Monday, August 24, 2009
It is critical that you sign up early for any class that you want, if a class is under enrolled, they will close it almost a week before the start of class so if you are going to be gone you can mail in your requests or enroll on-line or you can go in person to the main desk near the exercise rooms.
This is such a great program for the entire South Bay I hope that you encourage your family, friends and neighbors to sign up, there are a wide range of classes from art to dance and exercise to music and writing, something for everyone. It's just too good to loose.
I will have more in a couple weeks, hope to see everyone in September. - LP
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Those living outside of Torrance can start to register on Sept 1st, same warning applies: Sign up as soon as you can, the City is getting tough and wants those minimum body counts. Everybody grab you friends and neighbors and get signed up for classes, this is such a great program I would hate to see anything happen to it. http://www.tprd.torrnet.com/sdi/RegistrationMain/sdi (I hope that's right, Blogger won't let me cut and paste anymore! If this didn't work, click on "Updates and Reminders")
I also want to give you the heads up for the Artist's Studio Tour that will be held the weekend of Oct 10 and 11. There will be 10 stops on the Tour which will include not only a lot of great, local painters but also ceramists, fabric artists, jewelers and a glass artist! It is a fun day or weekend and lots of inspiration, plus there will be a light lunch available on the patio at the Art Center. Everyone who has been on the Tour has said how much fun it is and can't wait for next year!
For more information check out The Artist's Studio web site and click on the Studio Tours link and while you are there check out what else TAS is doing, always something new. http://www.artists-studio-pvac.com
I will update more later and have our new projects posted when we get closer to start of class. Have a good rest of summer, hope to see everyone soon.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Watercolor – Demo: Importance of Drawing
This week's demo was all about the importance of drawing. I have said this many times in class that if you want to improve your paintings you need to improve your drawing skills. Without good drawing skills it is almost impossible to render life-like representations of things in the real world, be it portraits, animals, flowers, landscapes etc, if you want to create something on your paper or canvas that actually looks like what you are painting, you need to have a decent understanding of drawing. I speak from experience.
I was one of those who would rather paint than "waste my time" drawing. I felt I drew well enough I really didn't need to bother. My paintings were okay, still there were things I had trouble with, I just thought it was me and I guess it was. Then I got the job with
A book I recommend if you want to improve your drawing skills is by Betty Edwards, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". It is a great book and explains how the brain divides the work between the left and right hemispheres. Art and the appreciation of beauty are a function of the right side of your brain but most of us live in our left side. The left is where our language, logic, sense of time and other functions we need to get thru the day in a timely manner play out, the right side is our spatial orientation, sense of detail, appreciation of beauty, facial recognition…basically the background programs of our brains. As artists, however, we need to be able to tap into that right side to create the detail most of us want in our paintings.
When I am starting a painting or a drawing, the first thing I do is mentally - and sometimes physically - divide the paper into 1/3s vertically and horizontally, I also make note of where the center is. While there are exceptions to every rule, it is usually a good idea to keep things out of dead center because, as the name implies, your picture - be it painting or photo - will die when you put key elements at the very center. The eye has no place to go. The negative space is uninteresting. It is just plain boring!
Next I place limit or boundary lines so I know how big to make my subject (see picture page). With the boundary lines, I make my image big enough for my paper/canvas and I also keep it within the paper or canvas. A very real problem for all artists regardless of experience is 1) making the subject big enough for the paper/canvas and 2) having the subject "grow" or "shrink" as you draw/paint it, the boundary lines help control these problems.
Once I have my areas established where I want to place elements of my drawing/painting, I do a general sketch of what I want to draw. Here is where I check proportions – very important when you want to be realistic in your art – I do this by measuring one thing against another in my reference photo with my trusty chop stick. You don't need a ruler or compass or anything too precise, you just need to get "in the ball park". In the example on the picture page, I used the length of the turtle's head as my constant and measured everything else against it. For example, the visible shell is 2 ¾ head lengths and the depth of the head is slightly over ½ head length. Some things I eyeballed but where I had questions I got out my chopstick, measured the length of the head in my reference photo and checked the problem area against it first in the reference photo then in my drawing. This usually solves problems. Remember at this point everything is very sketchy.
I must make note here because this is something I do without even thinking about it, from the time I start my sketch to the time I get done doing detail, the ONLY thing I am worried about is SHAPE. I'm not drawing a turtle head, I'm looking at the shapes that make up the head or the shell or the feet or what ever I am drawing or painting, that is a right side function, seeing shapes. AS SOON as you name something like "turtle head", you switch into your left brain and now instead of looking for the shapes in that head you are only worried about the fact it doesn't look like the photo of a turtle head. When you hear that little voice in your head start to name things, shut it down quick or you will become frustrated.
Actually, this process of starting out with a few simple lines and gradually getting more detailed is a good way to get into your right brain. You are easing your self into a different state of mind looking for shapes and refining your own shapes. The more you do this, the easier it will become and the more you will see. It does take practice and patients but the benefits will show in your art.
After I have sketched in my subject, I start looking for detail and refine my sketch. The more detail I look for the more refined my drawing becomes though I am still really only concerned for the outline and major elements of what I am drawing at this point, it is still becoming quite defined. When I no longer need them, I erase the graph lines and the sketch lines. Check placement, check shape, see if it is close enough to my reference photo to pass for what I am drawing, then I am at a point where I either call it good enough for a "cartoon" to transfer to my watercolor paper or canvas, or if it is going to be a formal drawing, I start looking for even more detail like shadows and highlights, wrinkles and folds. The more you know about your subject before you start painting it the better. You will know where the problem areas are, where there are subtle changes in light or texture, all the nuances that make up your subject. Look at the drawings on the picture page, you can see where I made changes to my drawing.
I can't say it enough: you really need to practice your art. Whether it is drawing or painting you really can't expect to become good if you don't put in the time. Some will need to work harder than others but if you are diligent everyone will see improvement.
Monday is our last class and we usually have our critique. I encourage everyone to bring in a painting or two to share with the class. These can be your best work or something you are having trouble with, you usually learn more from your "problem children", if you have something you are doing at home or have done in other classes or even other media, feel free to bring them in, this is a great way to learn from your own work and from others.
The new Season's should be out soon so watch your mail or if you aren't a Torrance resident if you are in the area, stop and pick one up or check out the Torrance web site for class schedules, registration and dates. See ya'all Monday.