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.