Saturday, March 13, 2010

Last Class Winter 2010

Week 7 Torrance/9 PVAC

To Spring forward! Remember to set your clocks ahead one hour.

Everyone please note: This coming week will be our last class at both Torrance and PVAC, we are going to have critiques in all classes please bring in something, it can be your best or a "problem child", we often learn more from our challenges than our successes so bring in one or more paintings be they new or old, good or "needs something" even if it is in a different medium than what you are using in class, I don't mind, if you want a second opinion, bring it in.

I also want you to know that registration is now going on at both places. Non-residents of Torrance can start registering on Tuesday, if you are going to PVAC and are a PVAC member, you can get an early bird discount on your class if you sign up now thru April 5th.

Don't let classes get canceled or shortened, sign up early and bring a friend. Thanks.

Acrylic Class Week 7 – Darwin Falls

I started the highlighting process the previous week and continued it in our last class. I finished up what I started, looking for light areas, dark areas, painted the water area a dark greenish color. Mostly I was finding and shaping the rocks along with adding some color, getting ready to add the final highlights and darks.

I did add a tree into the crack to the fall's left, when I got home I looked at the picture on the computer and saw that it is growing out of that crack and thought it added a nice touch.

Once I had finished establishing the shapes of my rocks, I under painted the areas that had vines growing on them, think interesting shape rather than vine, then I started looking for my brightest highlights and my darkest shadows also I looked for places I could put some reflected highlights. You will see a lot of reflected light in things especially when they are around water. The light comes in, bounces off of things and the water and will end up in the shadows as a light blue/purple color. If you look at the rocks in the shadowed area, you will see that there is a lot of blue in them, this is probably reflected light. There is also reflected light under the square rock on the right both on its shadowed side and underneath it, don't be afraid to put it in there, it will bring life to you paintings and detail to your shadows.

Please keep in mind that when you are adding these highlights and shadows, you don't want to cover up everything you just did. I heard one artist state that in a visual example your painting should be a gallon of you medium dark, a quart of dark and a pint of highlights. That under painting you have been working on is important, you don't want to loose it. Your dark shadows are important so you highlights will show. You are going to have to find that balance when you paint, I can't do it for you.

You may have to add highlights a couple of times because acrylics dry darker which is a plus for shadows, but not so good for the bright areas. Just be patient and add more light where you think you need it.

When the green areas were dry, I used some sap green with yellow to add some highlights to the vines in front of the square rock and the ones just behind them on the hill. They are the only ones that are getting direct sunlight so they will be the brightest. To that color I added a touch of blue to cool the color down and added touches of white to keep it light but not as light as the first highlight. This color should be a light blue green and added to the rest of the vines. If you want, you can use straight blue (cobalt or ultra marine with a touch of white) to the vines that are in that little cave area.

Now for the falls themselves, please, do not use white for your water at this point, as tempting as it may be, like everything else, we need to under paint it first. In the area where the water is coming out of the rocks you will need to mix up a light blue color using white and blue. The water is in the shadows so it will never be white, remember this.

Water is best done using a dry brush technique, starting where it is comes from behind the rocks, with a light touch, pull you brush down the rocks in the direction the water is flowing. Notice in the picture it hits rocks on the way down and changes direction several times so keep your strokes short and quick. Some of this bluish color sprays over the plants and rocks to the side this will add to the overall wet look of the rocks, this is a wild stream not some controlled man-made concoction. Let this dry before moving on. You should be able to see your under painting thru the spray of water.

In the water you can add the reflections and more darkness where needed. Again, this is water and is best done with a dry brush and since it is in the pond, keep most of your strokes horizontal though occasionally pull the color straight down followed by a horizontal stroke to make it look like a shimmer.

At this point if you are satisfied with how things look, it is time to add the finishing touches. Get out your liner and find cracks in the rocks using a dark color (blue, sienna and purple with lots of water). Like tree branches, there are no straight lines. Some cracks are thicker or have holes, just press down on the brush. Have fun with it. Then start on the tree branches.

The vines that need highlight are the ones in front of the square rock and the ones behind up on the hill, the rest should stay darker. Use yellow with maybe a touch of sap. This color is also on the rock just to their left in the mossy area.

Now you can use your white on the water. It will still be dry brush and will stay mostly in the middle of the streams. Start about half way down from where it comes from behind the rocks – remember, that area is in shade – then follow the water down in quick, dry brush strokes. It hits rocks and bumps so change angles and directions. Look at the reference photo for a guide. If after it dries it is too dark, hit it again BUT ONLY IN A FEW PLACES. Do not try to repaint the whole area or it will become solid, it is water out in Death Valley in late spring, not Utah in winter.

If your branches are dry, under paint the leave with a medium green color – say and a touch of blue – and tap it on using the end of your bristle brush in a stippling fashion and don't be afraid to cover up some of the branches, lost and found is good in trees and bushes. The highlights can be put on in a similar manor though not as much and use the light yellow green you used on the vines.

On a picture like this you can take your time and put in as much detail as you would like or you can stop at any point you feel comfortable with, personally, I feel like I need to do more work on my demo while others thought it was done. My only caveat to this is, if you are looking for places to work on, you are probably done.

This has been fun, I look forward to next semester. I want to give the acrylic class a heads-up, I will probably have a separate blog for you starting in the spring.


Watercolor – Darwin Falls

After we get done in class, I bring my demos home and I set them up next to the computer so I can write about what we did in class, and often times I see things I need to do I didn't see in class. It is very hard to talk and paint at the same time so when I get it home I can just look at it without trying to explain my every move.

What I saw in all the paintings I did was I needed more color and more texture in the rocks, I could accomplish both by using my sponge. First I addressed the color issue. I wanted my rocks to be a bit pinker, to do that I mixed up some red with just a touch of orange and water to thin it down, I just want a hint of color not a splash.

If you don't have a sea sponge, you can use a wadded up paper towel or even a regular sponge, the look will be different but we are just trying to add color. I used the sea sponge that had some big irregular holes and tapped LIGHTLY on my paper. The harder you press, the more water and paint will come out and fill in areas and that's not what we want. Be sure that if you have rinsed your sponge squeeze as much water out as you can before you pick up your paint.

Into the shadowed areas I added touches of blue the same way and let it dry before adding texture though I added it the same way, with the sponge using a shadow color of blue, purple and sienna and lots of water to make a light grey color. I tapped this color on all areas of rock and the combination of the shadow color and just color creates the rough texture of the rocks.

As I did in the acrylic class, I did add a tree coming out of the crack at the top (falls) left. I first under painted it with orange and when it was dry, using a smaller brush on its edge added sienna and purple in short choppy strokes leaving some of the orange on the sunny side.

The vines that are growing amongst the rocks were under painted with a light yellow green, basically yellow with just a touch of sap green and water. I used this on the vines that are in front of the square rock and up on the hill behind that rock, then I added a touch of cobalt blue to cool the color but still kept it light to under paint the vines that are under the rock and in the shadowed side of the painting.

If you haven't painted the colors of the reflections in the water, now is the time. Pull the color straight down rinse your brush and soften the edges and let it dry before proceeding. The water in the pool I under painted with a mix of blue and green and what mud I had on my palette, kind of a murky blue with lots of water to thin it. Using the edge of my brush and keeping my strokes fairly horizontal I painted in the darker areas of the water. Break up the edges of your reflections with this color but don't cover them completely. The strokes need to be mostly horizontal so the water looks flat.

The falls will be painted using the edge of your brush and a light blue color. Notice that where the water comes out from the rocks, it is in shadow so under paint with blue, let it dry then go over it again adding some darker areas. Think water falling as you paint and refer to the photo to see where you need to go with the color.

The water will be several layers of wash, each darker than the one before but each will be done the same as the one before it leaving bits of the previous color. Try not to cover up all of your reflections they will be hard to get back. Look at the reference photo to see where the water is the darkest and adjust your paint accordingly.

You can also add a second layer of color to the vine areas using mostly using sap green with just a touch of blue, it should be darker than the first layer. Don't try to paint actual leaves, just try to create interesting shapes within the green area to suggest darker leaves. You may need to go over these areas again to get enough dark just don't paint over it all. Each time you should paint less and less this creates depth, dimension and a sense of light. You have to have dark to show light.

If you have enough shadows and texture in your rocks, use your liner to make cracks in the rocks. Mix up a dark color and look for places where you can add cracks, rocks have a lot of them. After you are done with cracks – put as many or as few as you feel comfortable with – add a bit of sienna to the mix to make a dark brown and still using your liner, make the branches coming off the tree and the ones hanging down, on the other side.

Under paint the leaves on these branches first using a light yellow green and using either your brush, a sponge or a paper towel and tap in the sun lit leaves. Let it dry and tap in some darker leave the same way.

This is the point where you need to stand back and look at your painting to see if it actually needs anything else. You will have to finish your painting to satisfy your own needs but if you find yourself searching for things to do, call it done at least for now, then come back in a few days and look at it with fresh eyes. If it is something glaring, it will jump out at you just as it did to me when I sat down to write this up, I'll show you at our last class.