Saturday, July 18, 2009

Watercolor Summer 09

Week 3 – Watercolor – Peaceful Alaskan Village

This week I worked on finishing the background houses and trees, started the reflections and gave the closer buildings an "old wood" look.

First, I looked for places where I could add some cast shadows in the background. A good place for a cast shadow is from the chimneys on the houses even some from trees that might be close enough to cast a shadow on the roof. A few shadows will give a sense of direction to the light with just a few suggestions from the artist. Don't get carried away, remember this is the background, save detail for the fore ground.

The bushes on the hillside were separated out using "negative painting". Because it is such a small area, I've done a demo which I've photographed and posted on the picture page. This was an exercise that I use to have my students do but I got too many groans, however, I think it was one of the most useful exercises I ever learned when I was taking classes because negative painting can be used is so many way to create depth and detail in a painting, I encourage all my students to try it.

The first panel shows the basic layout of the leaves and the first layer of color which I did by wetting the entire paper and splashing or dripping color onto the wet paper and let it dry (Fig. 1). I also numbered the leaves so you can see which one is the top one, second…4th. Each wash was basically the same value, a mix of cobalt blue and orange to make a cool grey color and I let each wash dry before I started the next.

When you "negative paint", you are painting around the thing you want to create, so my first wash of grey, I painted everything EXCEPT leaf one (Fig 2). I left that as the first light wash of color. The next layer of leaves I painted everything EXCEPT leaf one and the 2 leaf 2s (Fig 3). Leaf three was added to leaves layers 1 & 2 and finally (Fig 4), the only thing I was painting was the dirt around all the leaves. (Fig. 5) In the final panel I added color and detail to my leaves because each layer is lighter than the one below it, adding color only strengthens the value change between the layers. Remember: Watercolor is accumulative so what is underneath shows through the layers above it deepening the value and the color intensity.

The reflection of the trees and buildings can be a bit tricky and can be totally ruined with too much detail, it is better to suggest than try to replicate the scene above the water. Remember, the water is always moving so nothing is in focus and it is polarized light so the reflections can be darker than what is being reflected.

I took a color that was close but slightly darker than what I wanted to reflect (building, tree, grass…) and loosely created the shape in the water by pulling straight down for the most part. I rinsed my brush and with the damp brush softened the edges, pulled the color down and then across using very light strokes, I just wanted to soften the shape I put in the water. Water reflects what is directly above it so you will see more of the underside of the buildings than the walls or roof. Also note that I'm not painting or painting around the pilings that hold the buildings up, I am saving that for later and will use a combination of lifting and positive painting to create them, right now, they would just be in the way.

Lastly, I started creating some detail in the wood of the two closer buildings. This requires using a "dry brush" technique. This is also a very useful technique and does require practice to get the right amount of paint on a damp brush and getting it to come off on the paper so I suggest that you practice before working on your buildings. The biggest problem most students have after having too much water on their brush, is using too much pressure on their brush and they get a more solid look to the paint. The key is to just lightly touch the surface with the brush and let the paper take what it wants. This is great for not only creating realistic looking wood, but can also be used to create the shimmer on water. (See pict page)

Monday, if you have masking fluid you might want to bring it and an old brush. There are some things in the foreground that might be easier to do if they were masked out, however, if you don't have any masking you can use some of mine or not worry about it, I will show you different ways to create the foreground. This will probably finish up this painting so be looking for your own projects and be thinking about what you would like to cover in the fall class, I'm open to suggestions.

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