Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winter Classes 2010


Acrylic Demo – Backgrounds

Putting in your background is like putting in the foundation to your painting. The background along with a good under painting is what supports the subject(s) of your finished painting, it needs to be there or the painting will look unfinished but it shouldn't be so brilliant or garish so it takes away from the subject matter of our painting.

Skies – If you are doing a land or seascape, chances are that at least some sky will be showing and it is a good idea to do this first in acrylics so you don't have to figure out how to put it in later and make it look like it fits. I know in oils many teachers tell you to put it in last but oil paints can be blended with new paints even after weeks have past, we so not have that luxury in acrylics.

I started out by putting on a good coat of gesso into the area where my sky will be. I would normally put it on with my big blender/haki brush but because I was working in a smaller area I used a #12 flat bristle brush, I was generous enough with the gesso so that the whole area was covered, don't try to stretch one load of gesso for the whole area, it needs to be covered. WHILE THE GESSO IS WET (I put this in caps because many of you wait until it dries and that defeats the purpose of putting it on in the first place), I picked up a touch of red and orange on the corners of my brush and streaked this along the bottom of my sky area and blended it up towards the top of the sky.

I wiped my brush off then picked up blue and a touch of purple and did the same thing along the top part of the sky, blending it down towards the warm color. I cleaned my brush and with big, flat "X's" starting in the warm area I blended up into the dark area, then reversed and blended the dark area into the warm area. This is where having a brush with very soft bristles comes into its own. The harder bristles will leave streaks but with a very light touch and the soft bristles you can make it look like it has been air brushed in. It does take practice to get the right amount of pressure but it is worth the time. All of this needs to be done while the paint and gesso are still wet, if you feel it start to tack up, lightly mist it with your spray bottle and work the water in gently.

Be sure that the bottom of the sky doesn't have a hard edge before you let it dry. If you are putting in distant mountains, hills or trees, you can, while the sky is still wet put those distant features in but if you are unsure, let it dry completely before adding other things tha will touch it.

Clouds you use a flat bristle brush and mix up a grey color. If it is a stormy sky, it will be a darker grey (less white) a bright sunny day more white less color. Grey is made up of blue, sienna, a touch of purple and white.

Using a dry brush technique (no be gobs of paint on your brush), a light touch and a circular motion to your strokes create your clouds. You can apply more pressure on the insides of the clouds but less when you get to the edges. Again, this will take practice. When this layer is dry, you can add another layer of white and maybe a touch of yellow and this will be mostly put when the sun might hit the cloud tops, NOT the whole cloud.

For a more impressionistic sky, you can do what is called "brush mixing". Pick up a color you want in the sky and with a series of strokes, paint your sky. Pick up other colors and white to change the flavor and add interest to your sky. Do the same with clouds by putting down a stroke and leaving it. The key to an impressionistic look is to put the paint down then don't mess with it too much.

Simple backgrounds – Things like still life and portraits often need a simple yet complementary background. Look at your subject and see what is the dominate color. For instance, if you are painting a vase full of red roses or a person with red hair, a simple solution to the background would be some form of green because green is the compliment of red. It should be a soft green which means the background will also have some form of red in it to grey the green add white to lighten it. It can be a very "strokey" look or you can soften it with your blender, the choice is yours.

Tall Grasses – This can be used in many situations where you don't have a sky such as close ups of animals or spilled fruit on the ground. Just as I did in the first sky, I covered the area with gesso so I could blend into it while it is wet, then using my blender, I picked up orange, sienna and red and with a slight curved stroke and the edge of my brush I created a streaked look like tall, dry grass. To that I would add, any other color I had on my palette, but it was primarily a mustard color. It is important to remember that these grasses are not all one color so it is necessary to add other colors as you go even if you are doing a spring green field, you will still need to add some yellow, orange, red and sienna along with blue and purple to make the "green grass" believable.

Rain or Snow – The technique is the same as it is for the grass starting with gesso for blending but this time use blues, grays and purple to keep it cool and wet looking. When it is dry and you want it to look more like snow instead of rain, use your tooth brush and splatter the area with light blue or light grey and finally white.

Next time – Water and Rocks. I will be using my picture of Darwin Falls as an example, see picture page. Download it if you want to use it in class.

PV Watercolor – Splash of color

It is always fun to try something new or different because we often times get stuck in a rut. The following technique can be used in many situations the key is to keep your subject simple.

While I tend to put my drawing on first then splatter, it isn't usually necessary, however, in this case I wanted to remove some of the paint in my subject so having my drawing already on my paper was important.

After I had my drawing on I sprayed my paper a couple of times not to cover the paper but to create wet and dry areas, you can also do this step with just water on your brush and splash it on just like you would do paint. This will let the paint run and blend in some areas where is hits water or stay put if it lands on a dry area.

Using you ¾" angle brush and my warm colors (red, orange and yellow) I splashed color where I thought my light was coming from – top and left. I used my cool colors (green, blue and purple) on what will be the shadowed side. The key to getting your splashing technique to work is water and lots of it. Mix your color pretty strong on your palette but us lots of water, this is where it actually should be dripping off your brush, then drip, throw or tap the color from your brush. This can get to feeling way too good so learn to stop or else you will have mud.

Once you have your splatters the way you want, take a paper towel and blot off some of the color in the flower and bucket area. It is okay if there are some blotches of color left, just take off the excess. Also, while it is wet – if you want – you can add salt to an area or use plastic wrap, just for fun, remember. Let it dry completely before doing anything else.

This next step seemed to be the hardest for students to under stand because it goes against their sense of logic, just trust me, it does work. In the flower area, I mixed up a very light pink color – red with a lot of water – then WITHOUT PAINTING INDIVIDUAL FLOWERS (the part most people missed understood) I painted all of the flower areas, sometimes adding a touch or orange in the sunny side or blue or purple in the shadowed side, but I did keep it very light.

On the bucket I mixed a light color using sienna, yellow and a lot of water to make an ochre color. If you have ochre, you can use it but thin it down because it tends to be a bit on the opaque side. Start in the sunny side of the bucket and as you move into the shadow, add touches of purple to grey the color into the shadows.

In the leave area it is much the same. Start with a light color and paint the whole area, don't worry about individual leaves at this point just get the base color in.

When it has dried completely, this is where we get into the detail.

On the bucket, using a dark mix of blue and purple, there is a shadow right under the rim of the top of the bucket. This is a cast shadow, run it under the rim very dark but when you get to the shadows from the leaves, add a touch of water, those shadows won't be as dark. Around the back part of the bucket is a shadow from the bucket and the flowers, use you shadow color with water and remember it is going around the bucket so it isn't a straight line. There is also a very dark shadow under the bucket and across the ground behind it. Also use this color on the back part of the handle and other shadowed areas. Don't forget the handle.

In the flowers, you can use the same red but it should be much darker. Now you are going to SUGGEST flowers. This step is mostly shapes that could be flower petals with the occasional almost, actual flower to tell the viewer what they are looking at, but this is a very loose process. This is not a botanical where every detail needs to be included; this is just an impression of flowers.

The leaves are going to be done using negative painting and a dark green color (green with blue). It is very dark right under the flowers so this color can be pretty dark. Pull out leaves by painting around them. Add color and veins using the same color but with a bit more water. With just a damp edge of your brush, pull out some stems for the flowers above. Let it dry.

You can do as much detail into the flowers as you want, but for now I am going to concentrate on the bucket. I mixed up a similar color as I mixed the first time, maybe adding a bit more yellow, and I painted the entire bucket with this color. While it was still very wet, I picked up sienna and just touched the paper where I wanted rust spots. My paper is elevated a couple of inches, so the sienna will run down a bit if the paper is wet enough. I also add a bit of orange the same way. I let it dry.

When it was dry again, this time I took sienna with just a touch of purple and painted in darker rust spots where the paint is peeling back. To some of those spots of I wanted it to look like the paint was above it, I took a dark mix or shadow color – blue and purple - and painted right underneath the lighter area. With a liner brush I could add more cracks and detail.

Las but not least, I took my fine tipped Sharpie and outlined everything. Just don't make solid lines or line everything. This is a very fun technique so don't look for perfection, its better that way.

Next week – Rocks and water. If you can find your own reference so you have something to look at, it will be great, I will be using my photo of Darwin Falls as an example, it is on the picture page if you want to download it for class. There is no drawing to go with this photo.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter 2010

Textures in Watercolor

This lesson is more visual than anything else so use the link to the picture page to see the textures and the explainations on how to create them. These are only a few to get you started try using them in combination to get the effects you want, you are only limited by your imagination so don't be afraid to try something new which is another reason I tell you to have test paper or watercolor cards handy to try out something new before applying it to your "masterpiece".

Most important to remember is to watch how much water is in your brush or sponge, what ever you are using, if it is suppose to be textured and it is too filled in it could be that you had too much water or you were pressing too hard, many things require a light touch as well as little water.

Have fun and try out different things to see if you can come up with your own textures.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winter Classes 2010

Week 5 Winter Classes

I just want to remind my Torrance classes that there will be no class on Monday because of the President's Day Holiday. Fortunately that is the last of the long winter weekends so we should be good until the end of the semester.

Acrylic – Gull Part 2

You should have your gull under painted by now along with the post and should have started the first round of highlights.

As I've said before, I will often see something at home when I set a painting up to write about it that I didn't see in class, in this instance I really didn't like the shape of the beak of this bird. I decided that this was a good opportunity to show the class that if you don't like something you don't have to struggle to make it work, it is simple enough to paint it out and do it again. I just used similar colors that I used in my back ground and painted the beak out, blending those colors into the background using similar strokes and working out into a large enough area to make the correction look as if it was always there and I didn't end up with a "halo" around my bird. After it had dried, I re-drew the beak and under painted with orange and a touch of purple.

I have been using a #6 filbert bristle brush throughout most of this painting because it is large enough for the size painting I am doing but not so small that it is causing me more work than I should be doing. A #6 or 8 flat bristle or sable brush would work here as well.

This time I will be using white with just the tiniest touch of yellow just to take the harshness off the white and I will use this as part of my final highlight on the white part of the gull. I started at the head and with quick strokes (remember you are painting feathers) from the top of the head down the back because that is the side the light is coming from (left side). I also use this color in dabs around the eyes and beak but leave a bit of the grey color around the eyes to show a depression in the feathers to give depth to the feathers.

Work your way down the gull and over but lighten the pressure on your brush as you get near the shadows, you want a gradual change from the light side to the shadowed side including the under belly.

With this same color using quick strokes, highlight the tips of the feathers near the tail and add some wispy feathers near his belly. Remember that acrylics dry darker so you will probably have to repeat this process once or twice each time using less yellow and not going over quite so far on the bird.

On the beak, use yellow with a touch of white to the top of the beak and just a touch of orange and red into that color for the bottom. There is a brighter spot of orange on the front of the lower beak you can blend back with your finger to soften it in.

The legs add more white and red into the orange color you were just using to get a very light pink color to highlight the front parts of the leg. Remember there is a cast shadow so this light color starts about his knee joint down. Also, if you want, take a bit of this leg color with maybe a touch more red and VERY LIGHTLY dry brush this color into the shadows on the belly. This is reflected light from his legs and it is there in the picture if you look close enough.

On the post dry brush in as much color as you want warn colors to the sun lit side cool colors in the shadows. Even mix up some light violet with white, blue and purple and dry brush it into the dark shadows, this will be a reflected highlight.

Finally, when you are satisfied with the texture on your post, mix a bit of white with touches of yellow and orange – it should be pretty light – use this to highlight the beveled edge of the post and the vertical edge that it getting the most light. Use quick choppy strokes this is old rough, wood so it won't be smooth.

Now it is time to change brushes, get out your liner brush and add enough water to this white mixture so it will flow off this brush. Streak some of this color into the sun lit side and along the edges of the big crack. These are not solid lines, more broken and streaky the better, you are creating texture. When you have as may streaks as you think you need, go back into that light violet color and use that to do the same thing in the shadow areas, add a touch more white if necessary but it should be on the blue/purple side.

Now rinse your brush and mix up a dark color using blue, sienna and purple, this is more blue and sienna than purple, and use more blue to keep it on the cool side. Remember to use plenty of water so it will flow off your brush. You will be creating cracks and holes in the wood and place some of these cracks next to the white streaks you just put in. You can also use this dark color for the eye if you haven't put it in already, the nostril, mouth line and the nails on the toes. Use just a touch of white in the eye to add life and finish the gull to your own satisfaction.

We will be doing thumbnail backgrounds when we come back so have a big enough canvas that you can divide it into 4 or 6 separate areas.

Watercolor Week 5Negative Painting.

Negative painting is something that we use a lot when we are painting in watercolor because we traditionally saving light areas working from light to dark, I chose the leaves not because this is the only way to paint leaves, I could have used circles or squares and accomplished the same thing, but to make it a bit more interesting.

If you want, before you start your negative painting, you can wet the paper and drop what ever colors you want on to the paper to create some interest. This is not necessary just a different way to start a painting. You might want to wait until you have done this step and it has dried completely before putting on your design so it doesn't get washed away in the process and when you are using a pencil use at least a #2B - #4B so it is dark enough that you will be able to see it after several layers of washes have been laid down over it. Many who used an HB or harder pencil had a difficult time seeing their design after only one of two washes. Pencil lines are okay in watercolor and this is just a study anyway.

After you have gotten your design on you next have to figure out which leaf is going to be your lightest leaf or leaves This will be your first No Paint Zone. By that I mean you will be painting around what ever falls into a NPZ. I chose the one leaf that looks on top and the curl back of the leave to the right for my NPZ.

I then mixed up a thin wash of color. You can use any color with the exception of yellow because yellow really doesn't change value (lightness to darkness) it really only intensifies in color. I used a mix of blue and purple for my wash and it was the same color and value throughout my demo until the very last wash. This is important to note because if you mix your wash too dark you have no place to go with it, the layers will darken as you put successive washes on because the layer underneath will show through and increase the intensity of the color as well as darken it, this is the nature of watercolor.

I let each wash dry completely before adding my next wash. Each time I do a wash, I select another leaf or leaves to join in the NPZ until all of the leaves are in the NPZ that is the point where I can darken or change the color of my final wash.

I also use negative painting to show how to put veins into the leaves using my angle brush with just some color on the tip of the brush and painting around where I wanted the veins to be, by increasing the value (light vs dark) and intensity (strength of the color) the lighter veins will show because of the contrast. This takes practice but it come in very handy when you do a lot of plants and flowers or any time there is lighter raised areas like a blood vein in a hand or on an animal's face for examples.

I also intensified the shadow under the curl back using negative painting, I could use it any time I need to add a shadow or increase a value behind something. As you become more adept as a painter you will go back and forth between positive and negative painting without even thinking about what you are doing.

You can finish these leaves anyway you would like. Get some leave from your yard and see how they look in real life and try to create that on your paper, that is the fun stuff: the holes and rotted or dieing parts that give character to the leaf, this is just a study so you can't mess it up. Have fun that is what art is all about.

PV classes we will be going over textures next week so there won't be any drawings or photos you will need to print out. Torrance students, hang in there, I will get you caught up but do try these things at home, remember you have a day off on Monday to paint to your hearts content.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Classes 2010 Week 4

Sorry this is so late, I've had a sinus headache most of the week making it hard to think and type. I also fixed the link to Art Supply Warehouse and added the link to Poster if you are interested.

Week 3 Acrylic: Working with White

(For my new watercolor classes, the watercolor notes follow the acrylic notes)

In acrylics, we work from dark to light because this gives us some place to go with our values. The problem with many novice painters is they just don't understand this concept especially when it comes to light or white things. If something is white, they tend to start out with white then have no place to go with their values. The results are a flat looking object more like a cartoon than something with dimension.

I demonstrated methods of how you can transfer a drawing onto your canvas, I suggest that you do this after you have your background done, it will save having to fill in areas you missed later like I had to in class.

My background was kept soft and out of focus so it didn't draw attention to itself. I wanted it to look like water behind my gull and I needed it dark enough so the gull would stand out against it. First I coated the background with gesso which helped me to blend my colors, then using blue, green and touches of purple and sienna created a soft blended background. Notice that I kept my brush strokes horizontal to the top and bottom of the canvas because the strokes will also suggest water.

The following colors were used in various combinations to under paint the gull and the post and are a very handy combination to remember especially when you are under painting.

Using, either, gesso or white combined with blue (either ultra marine or cobalt), a touch of purple (a little goes a long way) and sienna, more of the colored pigment than white, I created a cool bluish grey color which I used to under paint all of the white areas on the gull. Then, adding more blue, purple and sienna into the same area, I made a dark grey color for the wings of the gull. More blue than purple or sienna, test it on your canvas until you get a color you like.

When you are painting the feathers – and this goes for fur as well – have your reference picture so you can look at it often because your brush strokes need to follow the direction of growth so what you are painting it looks like it belongs on the animal you are working on, in this instance, a gull.

For the post, again back into that same colors but this time add more sienna to get a warm grey color and maybe a touch of purple to cool it down. At the top of the post, I added a bit more white to suggest light, just remember this is only the under painting not the final highlight. Like I said: a very handy combination of colors. Keep the strokes on the post vertical to create the idea of texture in the post.

The beak of the bird is yellow but we need to under paint with a darker version. Using orange, white and a bit of the mud on your brush make a dull orange color.

The legs are almost pink but we do need a dark under painting, add some red and a touch of purple to the mix you used on the beak to use on the legs.

This all has to dry before you go on to the next layer, if it is still wet or tacky, you will lift more paint than you will put down.

Back to our cool grey combination but this time add more white. You want this to be a couple values lighter than what you started the bird with but we are still under painting, any pure white will come at the very last.

This time when you load your brush, use it more dry brush and again, you need to follow the direction of growth of the feathers. I used the side on the edge and mad short choppy strokes, thinking about the feathers as I painted. Look at the reference photo and don't paint this value into the shadow areas, leave that first layer as shadows. Also watch around the eye, there is a bit of a depression so leave some of that darker color where the eye will go.

You can ad a touch more blue and sienna to create a gray color to start the highlights on the wing plus you can even dry brush some of that color down into the post, old wood has a lot of colors in it so have fun.

This is where we stopped and we will finish on Monday.

Working with White and Watercolor

Working with watercolor is almost opposite from what artists in other mediums do to create the same goal, painting a white or light object is a prime example. We work from light to dark which means that we leave the white of the paper and work to our darks using washes to increase the values in our painting, but like our counter parts in other mediums we can face some of the same problems especially when it comes to light subjects in our paintings because even white isn't white if we want to get dimension in the subject.

In watercolor the drawing is more important than it is in other mediums. There are various methods to transfer a drawing onto your paper and one method is to do your drawing on another type of paper like drawing or tracing paper then using graphite paper – and make sure it is graphite paper and not carbon or a paper with wax or you will have allsorts of problems – transfer the drawing so you don't hurt the surface of your paper.

Once my drawing was on my paper, I used masking fluid to protect some of the smaller areas so I didn't have to try and paint around them. Yes, I could have put masking all over my drawing, but that really would have been a waste of time and masking fluid, most of the areas are large enough I can just paint around them.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail regarding the background because it isn't important beyond creating some contrast between dark (background) and light (the gull). In two of my classes I tried to create water behind the bird, in another, I just created some dark color behind the bird so he could be seen. As an artist, these are things you need to decide to fit what you are trying do. Main thing is get some dark color behind the gull.

If you read any of the above notes for the acrylic class you will have seen that I made various shades of grey using blue, purple and sienna. In acrylics I have to use white, in watercolor we use water to thin our mixture but I use the same colors in watercolor as I do in acrylics to get some really nice grey colors.

Once our background is dry mix a bluish grey using the above colors, this should be to the blue side, watch the purple because it will over power your color. Now the value of this color should be fairly dark, however, if your background is really dark, it is okay if this color is a bit lighter than the background, if you have a light background this color should definitely be darker.

Starting under the chin and beak, add your shadows. Rinse your brush often as you do this step and with just a damp brush, soften the edge that is on the feather side. Brush strokes are important her too, so remember you are painting feathers and follow the way they grow. Sometimes just the color you have on your brush after you rinse your brush, is enough to add subtle texture in a white area or pick up just a small amount on a damp brush is just enough, white is delicate and you need to keep that in mind.

There are also shadows around the eye and where the beak comes into the feathers, they are subtle but the are there. There are also some light texture shadows on his chest and feathers on his side.

Once you have painted in all the shadows in the white area of the bird, mix a stronger grey color, it will mostly be blue and sienna and should start out pretty dark, this will be on the wings starting on the back. Look at the photo because you will need to lighten this color where the wings fold and where the sun is hitting the front part of the wing. Just rinse your brush and use water to move the color that is already there into these lighter areas.

If you have black or Payne's grey, go ahead and use it on the tail and eye, I won't tell the teacher.

On the beak, you can use yellow starting on the lower part then rinse and with a damp brush pull the color to the top of the beak. Near the tip of the beak is a touch of orange that you can add while the yellow is still wet and just drag a little of that orange back towards the head on the lower beak.

On the legs, I used red with a touch or orange to get a pinkish color that should be fairly dark. Starting where the legs go into the body use this color on the whole leg but as you move down, just run it along the back of the leg and bottoms of the toes. Rinse your brush and with a damp brush, drag some of that color to the front of the legs and tops of the toes.

On the post add a bit of sienna and purple to the color you used on the win and start with the shadowed side with this color and as you come to the sunlit side, add more sienna, orange or yellow or if you want it to stay grayish, just add water. When it is dry, you can create an almost life-like texture by using dry brush and finally your liner. Remember it is old beat up wood so it isn't perfect. We'll do wood later so I'm not going into it right now.

If you have any masking on your gull, you can remove it now and make any adjustments to the areas you need to do like softening edges or adding some texture.

This time using mostly blue and a touch of purple, mix up a medium wash of color. Use this color on the top parts of the legs and down the back, also use it where the feet come in contact with the post and down the back side of the post. These are darker shadows and need to be intensified. Finish the gull as you see fit, but if you start to look for something to do, you are done.

Next week we will do negative painting. It is very important for watercolor artists to understand this and if you want to bring you painting to another level, you need to learn to use it to your advantage. Feel free to download and copy the simple leaf drrawing I've done or do one of your own the important thing is to have over lapping leaves so you can have layers.