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
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