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.
(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 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.