Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall 2010 Watercolor Class

Fall 2010 Watercolor Demo

This week at PV I finished the bucket I started the previous week, Torrance, the procedure is the same for the barrel and I am using the same colors as I used for the bucket.

The first thing I did was to dry brush in some wood grain into the sides of the bucket. I demoed with 3 different brushes to show that you can use what you have available in your own equipment without getting a specialized brush for the job, with the round and the angled brush, after I loaded the brush with paint, I squished the bristles to spread them apart and repeated as necessary or when I re-loaded paint on the brush, the grass brush I used is designed to have gaps so I didn't need to spread the bristles.

I mixed a dark color of sienna, blue and purple keeping it on the warm side and making sure that when I loaded my brush I didn't have a lot of water in my brush. Then I started at the top of the bucket on the shadow side and worked my way down but you may find it easier to start from the bottom and work up, with very little pressure on my brush and with a nervous, jerky motion, pulled the brush down the height of the bucket. The nervous, jerky motion along with the dry brush effect makes it look like old rough hewn wood. I repeated until I got about half way around then added in some orange to my color to lighten it and as I got into the sunlit side, used mostly orange. I did the same on the inside.

For the two metal bands on the top and bottom, I used that same warm dark color adding orange as I went into the light area. The highlights on the top edge of the bands, I lifted out with a damp brush.

Finally, using my liner brush and a very dark color of mostly blue and purple, I added lines and cracks and holes, all the little detail things that can make something look very old and worn out. Just be sure that the lines on the top of the wood stays change direction not only as they go across the top but also where they are placed on the bucket, kind of like spokes on a wheel, the top lines will point to the center of the bucket.

Next week I have a request for sky and water so we shall see what we can do along those lines. As I have said before, I can do these things all day every day but unless you do them your self, you aren't going to understand what it takes to get the effects you want. Keep painting and I'll see you in class.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall 2010 Watercolor Class

Fall 2010 Watercolor – Demo: Rocks

(Sorry, I just saw I hadn't posted this from last week!)

Like last week, looking at the picture is probably more informative than a written explanation so you might want to flip back and forth between the two to see what I'm talking about. You will notice that the rocks are a lot more detailed than when you saw them in class, the reason for that is when I'm doing a demo it is a challenge for me to get the general basics of something across to my students without confusing them and often times I stop my demo long before I would if I were working on something of my own. Detail is just more of the same but can get boring or confusing when you have to watch from a distance. I decided to take it a bit further so you can see just how real rocks can look using watercolor.

The first thing I did was to draw some shapes of rocks. I've painted rocks for many years and I kinda know how they look and how to get the look I want, also, rocks are sort of like clouds in that they come in all shapes and sizes so unless you line them up and make them all the same size pretty much anything you put down will work as long as it fits the place you are putting them.

My first wash was very light as usual for a first wash. I used sienna really watered down and if I were working on a flatter angle, I probably would have wet the area first and dropped the color into it. Along with the sienna I dropped green and blue, you can add salt (again working vertical slat was out for me, but I like salt when doing rocks), or any color you want because rocks come in all colors and combination. I left some of the white of the paper for bright highlights. Take pictures or clip out pictures of rocks for reference and have them handy when you want to paint rocks.

When my paint dried, I mixed a shadow color of sienna, blue and purple but with a lot of water, this is also a thin wash that goes over the shadowed side of the rocks. My light was coming from the right so that meant I added this color between the rocks and on the sides to darken the color. When I got near the sunny areas, I just used water on my brush to give me a graded color (no hard lines).

Each time I used a bit thicker mix of the shadow color and each time I would start in the darkest area which is usually between or under a rock and faded it up ward. I repeated this until I was satisfied with the basic shapes of the rocks then using the same colors and smaller brushes – my ¼" angle and my liner brush – added detail. This take time, practice, patience and a knowledge of your subject but once you have mastered rocks, they are no longer a mystery and easy to include into you landscapes.

I did start a wooden bucket and I will finish it next week. I do get on a roll and may be giving you more info than you can absorb at one time, we have 3 more weeks so we have the time. See you in class.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fall 2010 Watercolor Class

I am not going to do a regular blog this time because I think you can see better by checking out the picture page

I will say that when you do something to damage the paper or add something like ink or wax, you better be sure that is what you want to do because once done it can't be reversed or changed.

Each of you might want to make up your own booklets on textures by cutting up squares of paper and trying to duplicate what I showed you in class, this will give you a reference when you need it and it will also give you some practice doing the different textures.

At PV, I will go thru some color blending. If you have any particular problems and want to see a demo on it, let me know. See you in class.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall 2010 Watercolor Class

Watercolor – Basic Brush Strokes

When I went to photograph the sheet of paper with my demo strokes on it, I realized that I really need to do some that were a bit more organized but this demo will have to do for now and I will have to make up and "official" catalog later. I will try my best to describe what I did but you will learn better by doing.

While there are a lot of brushes on the market having a few well-made brushes in various sizes will leave you better off in the long run because you become familiar with these brushes and you don't have to think about how you will use them, you just will and that will come with practice. The more you paint, the more familiar you become with your brushes, your paints and your paper, they are your tools just like a carpenter or plumber or mechanic has their own unique set of tools of their trade, so does the artist. Each has a job to do and your goal as an artist is to not have to think about the tools you use but to think about the job – your painting – and how you are going to accomplish that goal. That comes with practice, the more you practice the sooner you won't be thinking of your tools and you will start looking for more challenging subjects to conquer.

The first notion you need to forget about your brush is it is not a pencil or pen, nor is it a brush you paint walls with, it can and should move in your hand so you can use all parts of the bristles whether it is a flat, a round or an angle brush, learn to twist and move the brush around in your hand and to use your whole arm and wrist to get the effect you want.

Here are some basic moves for the different brushes:

Round Brushes – They should come to a nice sharp point when wet. You can make fine lines with the tip of the brush, thick line if you push down on it or a combination will give you thick and thin lines. This combination comes in handy when doing grasses or leaves. If you start at the tip and as you start to draw it across the paper, press and lift, you can create leaves or if you draw in longer it can be grasses or thick leaves like iris leaves. If you start out thick and pull and twist as you go up to the tip, you can create tree trunks. Experiment to see what you can do with each brush.

Flat/Angle brushes – While these brushes are similar, the angle is a bit more versatile than a flat brush you will have to decide which is best suited for your needs.

The angle brush is sometimes called an angled shader because it can give you a very nice graded brush stroke which is good for shading. (Graded means a color goes from dark to almost nothing in value), the key is just to load the tip with color, work the color in just a bit on your palette then place the whole end of the brush on paper, not just the tip with the color and draw it across. This comes n handy when you are doing shadows, or if you want to do some quick little flowers or anywhere where you need the color to fade off.

You can also make thick and thin lines with it just like the round brush, start on the edge of the brush and pull in the direction of the edge then twist the brush as you pull to fatten the line then twist back to make it thin again. Again, this brush is good for leaves and grasses.

I like this brush because I can use the tip or the side or however I need to use it and not have to change brushes all the time. I can do detail work with my 1" brush if I need to, it is because I know how this brush works from years of using them.

Flat brushes work similar but I find them a bit awkward for detail work.

Liner Brushes – I love my liner brush! This little brush can make grasses and trees or do detail that is almost impossible with any other brush. It does take some practice though so you will want to have some scratch paper or cards or something to practice on until you get a feel for this brush.

One important key to this brush is loading it with paint, this is the one time I will encourage you to use a lot of water. The paint should be the consistency of ink so it will flow off the brush. Next important is loading the paint on the brush. You need to roll the entire length of the bristles in the paint and as you lift it up, roll it between your fingers so it comes to a nice point.

You want to hold this brush at the back of the handle not near the metal ferrule, hold it in the center between your thumb, index and middle fingers like you are pinching it not like a pencil. Hold the brush slightly downward at the tip so the paint flow off it.

This brush is called a liner or a rigger or script liner because it is great for making long, consistent lines without reloading too often. The long bristles hold a lot of paint. If you press harder you get a thicker line, if you barely touch you can get long thin lines.

For grasses start by making a circular motion with the brush before you get to your paper then just touch the paper on the upstroke of that circle and lift as soon as you touch. Small circles make short grass, big circles make tall grass.

For trees, bushes and tree limbs – you are still holding like I described above – start at the bottom of the tree/branch, pressing harder creates a thicker line, and with a jerky motion pull up and lift off. You should get an unsmooth line that tapers off. To make more branches start back in where you just painted and as you pull change direction as you make a new branch. Practice will make perfect so give yourself some time to master this little brush.

There are many specialty brushes on the market like fans and rakes and stippling brushes, most of them are just made to sell, you can do the same thing and better with the brushes I've mentioned above so you can spend you money on something you will use. There are some exceptions and you may find you like certain brushes for certain things such as fan brushes, you do need to be aware of some inherent problems with these brushes and that is they usually leave a definite pattern, which is why they were made in the first place.

Fan brushes are popular and if you know what to look for you can see where an artist used a fan especially if they don't know how to disguise it. Fans will leave the image of their shape on everything you do. If you are making pint trees with them, they can look like fish bones, if you are making grass they can leave little fan shaped clumps, be aware of this when you use them.

Rake brushes or grass brushes can be used to create textures for wood or, as the name implies, grass. Again, be aware that they can leave a too consistent pattern so try to break that pattern up.

The one brush I do use occasionally besides my angle brushes is a filbert. It looks like a flat brush with rounded corners. I use this more with my acrylics than my watercolor but I do like it for certain things.

Next class I will be going over creating textures and effects with watercolor and will go over a few things I did cover in class but they are worth repeating. See you in class.