Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer 2010 Watercolor Class

Glass and Metal – Watercolor

Now that we have practiced painting metal and glass, we are going to put what we have learned to practical use by organizing our elements and adding a simple third element into a pleasing simple composition.

You need to draw your still life on your paper but before you start drawing, check your composition. First and foremost, you want to fill up your paper with your subjects. If you have something tall like my wine bottle and you go with a horizontal (landscape) placement of your paper, you are probably going to have a lot of wasted space around your subjects when you get finished so a vertical format will probably be better for tall things.

Again, rule of thirds. I placed the bottle close to the left vertical third line as well as the candle and the bell of the snuffer very near the bottom third intersection and the handle running near the bottom horizontal third line. This I usually do in my head but if you need to, divide your paper into thirds before you start drawing. Also, overlap elements in your composition. When there is space between objects they compete for attention, connecting them visually makes them a unit. You should be using at least a #2B pencil and a soft eraser when you need it.

Add as much information as you need or want to create the elements of your design just don't be so committed to them that you are afraid to improvise when you need to. Use masking fluid to protect your brightest highlights and be sure that the fluid is totally dry before you do the next step.

I know just how tempting it is to jump right in and get started on the main elements that matter most in a painting and worry about the background later, the thing is the background is like the stage set. Yes, you can act out the play without the set but it is very difficult to move the set in or get the props on or adjust the lights once the play has begun, I know, been there, done that and had to be physically held back from running on stage with forgotten props =-O (I still have nightmares). While you may not have nightmares if you don't get the background in first, you are going to have trouble trying to get the background to look like it belongs as you try to paint around your subjects leaving halos and hard lines and odd colors you may never get rid of, so trust me when I say" If your painting is going to have a background, do the background first, it will make your painting a lot simpler.

The background I demonstrated is simple but can be very effective no matter what color scheme you use.

The first thing I look for is my light source and which way the light will be traveling. In this case the light was in the front right so it will hit the upper left third of my background. I went over the "the rule of thirds" in class and if you do a search on the Internet, you will find a lot of sites that can give you more examples and explanations so I won't go into it here except to say that it is important to my composition to use the third lines when I am designing my painting and that includes the background.

Now that I have determined where my light will be the brightest on my paper, I can start painting. First I use my water sprayer to spray the entire paper and with my big wash brush I can add and spread the water to wet the paper evenly. When my paper is totally wet, I start in the area where it will be the lightest and pick up a tiny bit of the color I want to use. I did three different backgrounds in the three watercolor classes because I wanted to show these backgrounds can be any color you want or combinations of colors, it was the technique I was demonstrating not the color. For this explanation, I will go with the colors I used in my Torrance class.

This process moves pretty fast so don't stop between steps. I picked up a tiny touch of yellow on my brush and started working it on to my wet paper where the brightest light would be on my background. I was using a 1" angled shader but can be done with any large brush you have, save the small ones for detail. If I thought it was too yellow, I added more water because I want to keep this step light in value.

Next, I picked up a bit of orange and on the outside edge of the pale yellow worked the orange out a bit more making another ring of color. Blend the two areas together either with light strokes from your brush adding touch of clear water if necessary, you want a nice gentle blend. Keep working.

Next, pick up red, sienna and repeat what you did with the orange. You may find that on the left side you have run out of room for a complete ring, that's okay, just get your paper covered and be sure to blend the area where the two rings come together so you have a nice gradual transition.

The last step to the background will probably be mostly the corners maybe down the right side and bottom, use sienna and purple to create a dark color work that color in the corners. Again blend the touching areas so you don't have a hard dividing line. Now it must dry before you can start painting your objects. Note: on the green background I painted around the candle and snuffer (negative painting) because I didn't want the green to influence their colors in following washes.

When my paper was completely dry, I started with the wine bottle because it was the thing that was furthest back in my composition. I based it in with sap green and I was careful to paint around the candle to be sure that the bottle will look like it continues behind the candle. This is negative painting the candle. Looking at my bottle I added in yellow in the lighter areas, and sap with blue or just Hooker's green into the dark areas. I was using my ½" angle brush. Working other colors into the bottle while it is still wet – wet into wet – lets the colors soften into each other, just don't keep going over and over an area or you will stir up the color underneath and your colors could get muddy this is especially true if you are working with a complimentary color like I had with the red background and the green bottle.

The candle is translucent, keep this in mind because its shadows won't be as dark as a solid object. I used a mix of blue, purple and sienna and water to make a gray then starting on the inside where it would be the deepest part of the candle, created the shape of the edge I saw on the actual candle. Rinsed my brush and with a damp (I wiped out most of the water) brush, I went along the outside edge of that color (where it would be the inside of the candle not the outside edge) and spread it out towards the far edge of the interior of the candle. I rinsed my brush often because I wanted to keep it light. I used a similar technique for the shadow on the outside of the candle, starting with the gray color and bleeding it out with a clean damp brush. In some places I used the little bit of color on my brush to indicate shadows in some of the melted wax.

The center of the snuffer was the same blue, purple and sienna but with little water so it was very dark. I started in the darkest part of the bell then rinsed my brush and with the damp brush teased some of that color out to the front of the bell. This is much darker than what you did on the candle because of shadow and soot so you don't need to thin the color too much. This takes practice, if you have some scrap or test paper handy, you might want to practice first. The rest of the brass was painted in with yellow and a touch or orange or sienna. I used the same color mix on the candle holder.

Depending on how fast the class works – and I am by no means trying to rush you – we may get done with the painting next week and for sure the following week so please start looking for something you would like to paint. It can be any subject you want. Also, think about what you might like to do next semester so I can plan for something you want to learn or feel you need more instruction.


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