Friday, May 14, 2010

Spring 2010 Watercolor Class

Watercolor – Borax Wagon Week 1

I know that the detailed drawing can be a bit confusing especially the stuff that is going on under the wagon, all you have to do is draw the shapes you see and not worry about that it is. I don't know what it is and it really doesn't matter what it is because we are ONLY concerned with shapes, we shouldn't be naming anything that we are drawing or painting, it is all just shapes. If you draw the shapes as you see them and paint them as you see them, if they are important, when you are done they will look like what they are suppose to but they are still just shapes. Do the best you can and don't sweat the small stuff.

There is only a small section of sky in the upper right hand corner, I wet that area with just water and included the distant mountains when I was wetting the paper. I then picked up blue and a touch of sienna to give me a gray/blue and painted the upper portion of the sky and let gravity do a lot of the work by rinsing my brush and with just water touching the bottom edge of that color and letting the color run down (I always work with the back of my paper elevated at least a couple inches). I then turned my paper upside down, picked up some sienna and a touch of red and just below the tops of the mountains applied this new color and let it run towards the blue sky. I tilted my paper to get the colors to go where I wanted them and then held it flat for a minute or so until the paper dried enough that they weren't running together fast. They were still mixing a bit but not enough to matter.

Let the sky dry a bit before starting the distant mountains but if they are just a touch damp, it will work to your advantage to create a soft edge or wait until it dries completely if you are unsure.

I picked up some sienna and a touch of red to create the distant mountains. It should be just a shade or two darker than the sky but not real dark, it is in the distance. Use water (a damp brush is good enough) to move the color from the top of the mountain to the bottom to keep it light.

While your mountains are drying, you can start on the desert floor. You will be negative painting the wagon as you paint the dirt around it. If it helps you, wet an area with water first then touch color – wet into wet – into the wet areas. Use mostly your warm colors – sienna, orange, yellow and red – but you can add some of your cool colors if you want, keep your strokes mostly horizontal and don't be too heavy handed when you apply your colors, this should be light and sunny when you are done. Many of you were way too generous with your colors and they got too heavy too soon, remember we work light to dark, if you get too dark too soon, you have nowhere to go with your color. Let the ground area dry before moving on to the wagon.

If your mountains are dry, if you have some of that pinkish color on your palette you can add a lot of water to it, if you have to remix, it was sienna and red and LOTS of water to make just a faint tint of pink for the sand hills just below the mountains. This is just a very light tint for these hills because they are made up of sand. Let it dry just a few seconds, probably just the time it takes to mix some sap green with a touch of orange and water, then just touch this color onto the tops of these sand hills while they are still a bit wet, this will be the grasses that are growing on the tops of these old dunes.

The under painting for the wagon is a very light gray color. You can probably get a good gray by mixing a lot of water with all the colors on your palette to get a "palette gray" or if you are just too neat, use just touches of blue, sienna and purple to create a gray tint much like you did for the sand hills in that it is very light. I painted over everything except for that metal strip on the upper left side of the wagon.

For the under painting for the wheel and the stuff under the wagon, I added a touch of sienna to that tint to warm it up and to make it a bit darker in value. I painted the outside rim and the under parts with this color on the spokes, I added orange and mixed with that reddish color.

This is the point where I left off at Torrance however we did go a bit further at PV. Torrance students if you want to try and do some of the things I did at PV before class next week, feel free, I will get you caught up so no need to panic.

Before I could do this next step the wagon had to be totally dry. If you are unsure, get out a hair dryer or let it sit for a half hour or so. If your paper is at all wet, this won't work. Be ye forewarned!

With a very dry brush, I worked some orange into my brush (I was using my ½" and ¾" brushes). Before I touched the paper I squeezed the bristles near the metal ferrule to make sure I didn't have any excess water in my brush, then touching the paper lightly with the very edge of the brush, I dragged it horizontally across on the wagon sides, wiggling a bit as I went. THIS TAKES PRACTICE. Have some scratch paper handy to practice on and just paint the side boards not the vertical supports just yet. Skip areas, if this is old varnish or paint, it has worn off in spots. Repeat this step using other colors like sienna or blue just be sure that the paper is dry, your brush is dry and you use a very light touch. We also dry brushed the grain into the vertical stays that hold the sides of the wagon. PV Morning class, this is where we stopped.

Afternoon class we got a bit further we added some texture to the outside rim of the wheel using a mix of blue and sienna with water, we want it a bit darker than what's there but not real dark just yet. Make sure you get the excess water out of your brush before starting the texture. We also started putting on the flecks of paint on the wheel rim the same way as well.

We did start some of the shadows using blue and purple with a touch of sienna very little water painting in the underneath part of the wagon and some of the shadows on the wagon from the stays. Note on that support coming out from under the wagon that has the metal bar on it there is some reflected light on the side – look at the reference photo – before it goes under the wagon.

We also painted the metal bar on the side. First I wet the bar with water, not drippy water, just enough to dampen the area then I picked up some sienna on the tip of my brush and ran it down the center of the entire length of the bar. While it was still wet, I picked up some blue and ran this color down the shadowed side of the bar, rinsed my brush and picked up orange and ran that down the front side. This whole thing was done wet into wet. I did leave a gap where the chain was. That is where we left off in the PV afternoon class.

If the other classes want to try and get to this point on your own, that is fine with me. Just take your time and look at the photo and try to figure out on your own what you have to do to get the look you want. Or you can wait until class and we will all get caught up. Be ready to work on Monday and Tuesday. See you then.

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