Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall 09 Class Projects Week 4

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.

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