Winter ’09 Acrylic and Watercolor Class Projects
Week 3 – Acrylic Project “Dusty”
This week we need to get things that might be behind Dust finished so we can finish her up probably the next time we meet. What I did in class was to start the highlighting of the grass and bushes around her. The light is coming from the right/front side of the painting which means that the highlights need to hit the top, right sides of things like the grass in front of her and the bushes on the right. I did a little on the bushes behind her on the left but only those tin the front that might catch a bit of light.
Using a #10 bristle brush with touches of yellow, white, orange, some green and sienna (mix and match these colors as you move thru your painting) I mixed the colors such as white and yellow together by mashing the brush straight down on my palette so that the end of my brush was all splayed out. It is important not to pick up too much paint, this is sort of a dry brush technique so you don’t want a lot of paint to start out. The color you use should be fairly light, while it is probably not our final highlight overall, in some places it just might be so you need it to suggest the direction of the light.
With your brush all splayed out LIGHTLY tap on your canvas where you want this highlight: Tops and edges of bushes, the ground in front of her, a little between her back legs up closer to her body, just leave a bit of the dark on what would be the ground behind her back leg as a shadow (see photo). Change your color often and if you are in the bushes, keep it more towards the top leaving the dark near the bottom. If you get carried away don’t worry, you can always put some dark back into the lower parts of the bushes. Also, leave the bushes behind her dark as if she is casting a shadow.
I kept my corners dark for now though that will probably change a bit in the final touches.
Once you have highlighted the bushes, it is time to start making fur on the puppy. I used a #6 round sable brush for this but if you have a small bristle brush, like a #4, that will work as well. The key here is dry brush. This will be a truer dry brush technique than what you did on the bushes and it will take some practice but this is the best way to make fur and it is something you can use in many different situations when painting with acrylics: Grass, fur, hair, wood grain, water ripples… It is a long list and well worth you time to practice.
Mix a color that is 1 or 2 shades lighter than the area you are going to paint. It will probably be a mix or white, sienna, blue and a touch of purple, you will probably have to test it on your canvas to be sure it is a bit lighter. After you have mixed your color – this is important – wipe your brush off. You want very little paint on your brush and with your fingers, spread the bristles out a bit so it looks a little like a mini fan brush.
You might ask why not use a fan brush? Well, some people do and use it quite effectively but it take a lot of practice to not get a fan brush pattern going with the fan. Spreading the bristles of a round brush allows for a more random look. I’m use to using either a bristle brush or round brushes and you go with what you know and have more control over the final outcome of your painting.
If you are using a small flat bristle brush, make sure to wipe out the excess paint and twist your brush going from the flat horizontal edge to the thin vertical one to make it look like clumps of fur, other than that it is much the same a using the round brush: It is a light touch, following the direction of the fur (have your reference photo of Dusty handy not previous weeks). If it is around the head, it is short, quick strokes – think fuzz. On the body and legs the strokes are longer and add a bit of a twist but it is still a dry brush and tight touch.
The color you use can be a bit lighter on the top of her head, nose, right under her eye and the front leg on the same side as her body and back leg, use less white as you go between the front legs and the left side, this will create some dimension to your dog.
Next week: Maybe a rock or two and some final highlights, we should get this done. Start looking for something you want to paint so if you have questions about it we can discuss it in class.
Watercolor Week 3: Tiger
This week I worked on starting the fur process and the basket. While both are fairly simple to do, it is a bit time consuming so take you time, rushing this will only cause you problems.
The fur is done using a dry brush technique. What I mean by dry brush is there is very little water in your brush or in your color and very little paint on your brush as well. You can use a flat or angle brush, a round brush or if you have a specialty brush like a grass brush or even if you have a bristle brush, you have many options. Just be sure that if you are using a bristle brush that it has never been in oil paints. You can never get all the oil out of the brush and it will ruin your watercolor paper.
I used sienna and orange for the most part with little or now water other than what was already in the paint. If I needed it darker like at the back of his head, I used a touch of blue but it was mostly the sienna and orange.
With a round brush, pick up some of the sienna and orange and mix it a bit on your palette. Be sure that you have dried your brush well first so you aren’t adding any more water. After you have loaded your brush, with your fingers, spread the bristles out a bit so you can see and uneven row of bristles, if you are using a flat or angle brush, you don’t need to do this just be sure your brush is dry. Using light, quick, short downward strokes and FOLLOWING THE DIRECTION OF THE FUR, apply this darker color. If you are doing it right, you should be able to see individual “hairs” separated by the lighter color underneath. If it is too solid a color you either pressed too hard, had too much water on your brush or in your paint or both. You barely want to touch the paper, you might want to practice on a separate piece of paper if you don’t want to experiment on your painting (this is always a good idea when trying a new technique). Just like in the acrylic lesson above, this is a good thing to learn to add texture to you paintings and will come in handy under many circumstances so practice it so you know how your brush works.
This color goes on all the orange parts of the kitty. Stripes will come later so do no worry about them just yet, I haven’t forgotten them but at this point they aren’t important and can actually be more confusing to try and put them in.
I think I also added more color to the insides of the ears, remember to paint around the hairs and to bleed the color out as you move away from the head. I also added color to the collar. First I picked up a bit of blue and a tiny bit of purple and starting where it goes under the fur on the neck, painted it pretty dark. And is came out from the fur, I rinsed my brush and bled it out so that it looked like light could be hitting it. Remember to paint around where tuffs of hair might be hanging over the collar, he is a furry kitty.
You can start the basket by first painting in the ribs (the supports that run up and down the basket) with yellow and a touch of sienna, just remember that the spaces between them get closer together as it goes around the sides of the basket so you might want to start in the front and work to each side with each rib just a bit closer each time. They also angle slightly towards the center and how they angle will depend on what side of the basket you are working on the left side will angle out towards the left, the right towards the right and the center will be the only one that will go almost straight down.
Once you have the ribs in you can start “weaving” your basket. Much like if you were actually weaving it you alternate between over and under. I used my ¼” angle brush and used a fairly thick mix of sienna, orange and some yellow and remembering that the weave is going “over” the rib so it was a slightly curved stroke, I started on one side of the basket and did a row of “Over, under. Over, under.” Until I got to the other side then did “Under, over. Under, over.” So that it looks like a woven basket. I did work on this a bit when I got home because I needed to finish what I didn’t get a chance to in class and I also added some dark (sienna, blue and purple) where I thought there might be gaps near the ribs (see photo) but I will demo when we meet again.
Like I said, this is a bit time consuming but it is not hard to do, just be patient.
Next week: We should be finishing this up with some stripes, basket details and a few other finishing touches. Start looking for your next project, if you have any questions we can talk about them in class.