Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter 2011 Watercolor Class

WATERCOLOR Week 3 - Snow Demo

Torrance students please go back to the blog from a couple of weeks ago for the instructions. I will post a picture of the one I am doing in your class but all the techniques are basically the same. If I think of anything I didn't cover in class, I will mention it, right now you need to get your drawing finished, get your masking fluid on, get the sky and the distant trees in along the horizon.

This was the final week for our snow/white painting, the main point to this exercise is no matter what the subject is if it is white you need to have dark to show it off. It doesn't matter whether it is snow, lace, fur or whatever, if you want it to have depth and texture you need to have the contrast in values to show the white off. You can see this in the everyday things around you and in the works of other artists, the more you look for these things the more you will understand them.

I know that some of you were worried about leaving the masking fluid on for more than a couple days and took it off, that's okay but I have found that I can leave it on for a couple weeks with no problem. Part of that is the paper the other is how you store your painting between working on it. If the paper has a soft surface (you may want to test on a scrape piece of the paper you are working on), the masking can be absorbed from the start and even if you took it off within minutes of it drying, it will tear the paper. I've only had that happen a couple of times, just test your paper to be sure, each manufacture does things a bit different from the next.

The other way you might have problems with the masking tearing you paper is if it has been around heat. If you use a hair dryer it must be one with a cool setting and hold it back from the paper at least a foot. The other source of heat could be your car or if it is in a room that gets heated by the sun coming thru the windows like a back porch (my problem). If you are stopping on the way home and have your painting in the car, don't throw it in the trunk if you can, put it on the floor – front or back – and place a blanket or coat over it. This will insulate it for a while but best not to make an afternoon of your stop, get it home and into a cool, dry area.

Using your liner brush for those mid-ground trees make sure that not only do you have big dark ones but also lighter ones, smaller ones, some in front, some in back. That patch of trees may be 20 or more feet across so not all of the trees will be right along the front some will be in the middle or back and you suggest that by where you start you trunks. If you start them in front of the bushes in mid-ground plus if they are darker, they will look closer. If you start them in the middle of that color for the undergrowth, they will look like they are in the middle. If you make them lighter and start at the top of that undergrowth color, they will look like they are at the back. Also, don't be afraid to overlap or make groups of 3 or more. The one thing you do need to watch out for is lining them up in a nice, neat row, this isn't an orchard it is a woodland grove, nothing neat about it.

Once you have those mid-ground trees and branches in, it is time to move up to the foreground trees and their branches. Still using your liner brush mix a dark color (blue, sienna, touch of purple) and really congest the branches in the foreground. If you look at the sky area in particular, you will see tons of little branches and twigs, also note that there is a tree off the paper that has branches coming in from off the page. This will give you a lot of practice with your liner brush, remember if you want a thicker branch you press down on your brush and thinner ones you lift your brush. Another thing to keep in mind is that the branches will start on all sides of the tree, don't just have them coming off the side, start some in front and don't be afraid to overlap, it's what Nature does.

At this point we need to get some of the shadows behind the mounds of snow at the bottom of our trees otherwise they won't show up. I mixed my blue and purple – mostly blue – and a lot of water to make a light wash then painted in on behind the drifts around the bases of the trees. Once I put it down, I rinsed my brush and ran a damp brush along the edge of the color to soften the edges. I also used this light wash in other areas around the base of the trees to suggest texture but each time I softened the color around the edges. To make the cast shadows from the trees, I added a bit more blue and purple to that color and when I applied it I kept in mind that the shadows will follow the terrain, the snow is not flat and your shadows need to follow the snow. Again, once I had placed my shadows, I rinsed my brush, dried it a bit then took the damp brush and ran in on the edges of the shadow to soften them.

Now I removed the masking fluid from my trees. Make sure that the paper is completely dry before you take it off or you could tear you paper. use a damp brush to soften the edges where you had masking.

The detail in the trees was done using my ¼" angle brush and adding a touch of sienna to the blue and purple, created a dark color. The key thing to remember here is that the trunks are rounded so any stroke you pull across the trunk needs to be a "u" shape, other than that all the marks on the trunks are just shapes – dashes and dots as I heard one artist call them – nothing that takes any serious thought, just simple, quick marks with your brush.

At this point you need to finish it how you see fit. There were some grasses in the front that are done with the liner, notice that I did them in a gray/brown color not green. Why? Because there is no green anywhere else in my picture and I don't what to have what is called a "unique color", it would be distracting. If you need more shadows in places to make the trunks stand out, that is fine, just remember that a little color can go a long way so don't start out dark just use light washes, you can add more to build up the dark if you need to just let it dry before between washes so you can see how it will look.

Next week I will be doing another "white" demo using the poppy I posted on the picture page. If you want to follow along please print the picture out at home and have it for class, you can have it drawn on your paper before class if you want to save time. See you soon.

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