Sunday, February 27, 2011

Watercolor 2011 Winter Classes

Winter 2011 Watercolor Class – Apple Demo

All classes: I am just going back to putting the link to the picture page by adding hyperlinks throughout the text, it more than doubles the time I spend writing the blog to add the pictures in where they should go. I'll keep looking to see if Google improves how blogs are edited but for now I will go back to the tried and true hyperlink, sorry. Just hit the back arrow in your browser to get back to the blog.

I do want to state again that when you are designing your painting whether it is something alone or a very complicated scene, you must decide what is important in your painting so when you place it, it is not only in a prominent point on your canvas or paper but that it is also large enough to show its importance. This is especially true when you only have one or two objects, make them big enough so they don't get lost in the background. As I walked around the room many of you made the apple very small on your paper so that most of your painting was just the background, if I was enough of a math genius and could figure out how much space my apple takes up on my paper, I would say that it is close to a third of the space, maybe a bit more. The apple is my subject NOT the background.

I did draw my apple in, if you want you can also indicate where shadows and highlights are as well. I could have used masking to protect some of the bright highlight but instead I lifted back to an almost white while I was painting the area and also at the end, it is up to you.

I do want to mention that you might want to paint with the top of your painting raised up a bit. I have to work vertically for class but that doesn't mean that I work flat at home, I usually work from 2 – 4" off the table so that gravity will work for me. Working flat can cause the paint to pool up or just sit there and not do anything. Put a roll of tape or you pencil box under the top of your support to give a bit of angle while you are painting and I think you will find it does help.

To start off, I wet the entire paper with water, almost to the point of soaking it. This will let the paint do a lot of the work and will let it gently blend with other colors so there are no hard lines. Starting inside the apple, I worked out in circles with my colors first with yellow, on the outside of that next with sap green (sgreen) then sgreen and Hooker's green (hgreen), the hgreen and ultramarine blue (blue) getting darker in the corners. While the yellow was still wet, I lifted out some color where I want my highlight to be. The trick here is to start the next color just outside the previous color and let the two mix naturally. This is where the wet paper will come in handy and do most of the work. If the paint isn't moving or you were too far away you can used just water or water and a bit of one of the colors to coax it along. Don't worry if you get blooms here, it adds interest to your background.

Let this dry completely before moving on.

I started painting the shadows on my apple. Because of the yellow I used, I made a gray color with yellow and purple for the shadows. This will be the first wash of color but it is important to start the shaping process of your apple. Look at the real apple when you are trying to decide where these shadows go. There is the obvious one behind the apple but there are also shadows around the stem and along the top. Start out with a dark color then rinse your brush and with a DAMP brush, tease the color out so you have a nice graded value for your shadows.

While the shadow areas are drying, you can intensify the background colors and suggest that the apple is sitting on a table. I started with a light wash of sgreen and a touch of yellow and using "criss cross" strokes I did much the same thing I did with the first rings of wash but this time I want to intensify the colors a bit keeping it light behind the apple (see photo page). As I get into the darker areas there is less water and more paint on my brush, I want it pretty dark in the corners. Let everything dry before proceeding.

This next step might need some practice on your part because most of you are so heavy handed with your brushes and this take subtlety and trusting your paints to do what you need them to do, so consider a few practice runs before trying it out on your paper.

Starting at the back edge of the top of the apple, I wet the area with water avoiding the area where the stem will be. This is very similar to how I started the painting but this time I am localizing the wet paper to just the area I want to paint at the moment which is the back of the apple. Using my angle brush, I pick up Napthol red (nred) with very little water and just LIGHTLY TOUCH along the top edge of the apple occasionally pulling a line down towards the place where the stem connects to the apple. Remember that your brush strokes must follow the curve of the apple and angle down towards the center, these are not straight lines. I also picked up orange and yellow and did a few similar strokes in that same area but closer to the stem and mindful of the curve of the apple.

This next step I would wet parts of the apple and added paint as I went, the reason for this is the paper will dry and you will need to rewet it anyway so I wet about a third of the apple, dropped in color then wet the next third and so on. I started on the lighter side of the apple with cad red and napthol touching in bits of orange and yellow and wiping back the highlight area to keep it lighter. As I moved over to the shadowed side it was napthol and alizarin with touches of sap green. While the shadow area was still wet I dropped a mix or purple and blue into the wet paint for the reflected highlight.

The cast shadow from the apple was made with Hooker's green, blue and alizarin and very little water, it should be very dark. You might want to wait until your apple is dry before adding the shadow so you don't get a bloom into your apple. I started with this very dark color right under the apple where it sits on the towel, it stays very dark around the side, I even painted over the edge of the apple to create a lost and found look in the shadow. As the shadow moves away from the apple it will get a bit lighter but should remain mostly dark. Be sure that you rinse your brush and soften the edges of the shadow.

The stem was sap green and while it was wet I touched in alizarin to the shadowed side and yellow in the sunlit side. Lastly I splattered some red and orange on the apple to give it a few small spots and I took a Q-Tip with water to lift the highlight back starting in the lightest area and with small circles and rinsing the Q-tip lifted out what I wanted.

You may need to adjust the colors and the shadows to finish this the way you want just remember to let an area dry completely before rewetting and adding more color. If you do rewet an area, minimize how many times you go over the area or you will smear what you did before and could cause mud.

PV, we will be doing rocks in the next class so please download and print the rock photos on the picture page. Torrance we will be doing the apple have the reference photo for class. See you all soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Winter 2011 - Brushstrokes

Watercolor Class Winter 2011

Torrance class – The instructions for the poppy are the same the only thing I did different was instead of negative painting with random colors, I used colors that would make the flower appear as if against the plant. Color doesn't matter but where you want to go with it does. Have fun.

PV class – I am going to write up the different strokes we covered in class for the blog I am also going to create a page so you don't have to go through all the archives if you need to review (I tried to find the last time I did this demo and couldn't so I know you would have problems). I repainted the strokes so I could photograph them easier but they are still the same. Hope this will come in handy, the link is on the side bar.

Also Note: Blogger does not make it easy for me to insert pictures, this has taken me days and I still didn't have much success with all the images I had to post. If you want to se examples of the strokes just click on the slide show in the side bar and it will take you to the picture page. Sorry this has taken so long but I keep hitting deand ends.

Some basics before we get into techniques: A brush is NOT a pen or a pencil, you hold it in your hand so you can get the job done sometimes that means being able to roll it in your fingers or scrub away. We also use all surfaces of the brush not just the tip or end of the brush, this goes for all brushes whether they are flat or round. It is also good practice to hole the brush back at least mid way and better yet to hold it at the end not up by the metal ferrule, this will give you brush more action and your painting won't look as tight. Save that for the final details.

Also, keep your brush relatively dry. If you rinse it, wipe it out with a paper towel to get rid of any excess water which can flow down off your brush and thin your paint so that it won't cover the way you thought it would.

Brush strokes matter. They can tell your viewer a lot about the texture or the terrain even the direction or the shape of something, think about what you are painting and what you can do to make it look more authentic.

Dry Brush –Key things to remember are: Dry Brush means DRY BRUSH! If you rinse your brush be sure you have dried the brush so there is no water visible when you squeeze the bristles, water will hide up near the metal ferrule so be sure to dry the whole bristle area. It also means that there is little paint on those dry bristles so after you load your brush be sure that there are no globs of paint on the ends or sides, wipe it on a paper towel if you have to, to avoid having too much paint or water.

The other thing to keep in mind is pressure. If you press down hard on your brush, more paint will come off and fill in the area, the lighter you press down, the brush will only hit the high spots on the paper leaving little "holes" so you can see the under painting or the paper showing through.

Depending on what you are painting at the time dry brush can be used to add in some color such as mist or dust or when you are making waterfalls or the glimmer on the ocean or palm fronds.

Stippling – This is a good stroke when you are leafing out trees or creating bushes or distant flowers or even adding some texture, the pressure rule applies here as well but you can have more paint on your brush.

I usually use a flat brush for this technique but a round one will work. When I pick up paint I take my brush, on my palette I tap the end of my brush straight down on the mixing area, not so much to mix the paint if I have more than one color but more to "fuzz up" the end of the brush so it spreads out and looks all twisted, this is great for trees and bushes because it creates a random look to the area. I apply the paint by touching the end of the brush straight on to create the tree or bush or texture I need. Remember that the amount of pressure you use on your brush will determine how much paint comes off your brush. If the area is too congested with paint, you are too heavy handed. I have literally had the brush fall out of my hand because I was holding it so lightly when doing this technique.

The Liner Brush – This little brush makes great trees, branches, weeds, grass, fence wire, boat rigging…Any where you need a nice thin line the liner is the brush to use. It does take practice to master and mixing the right consistency of your paint is half the battle. The paint needs to be very ink-like. If you tip your palette it should run. Next you need to load it fully, really work the paint into your brush and as you lift it off your palette, roll it in your fingers.

Hold this brush as far back on the handle as you can and hold the tip slightly down so the paint will flow. If you are doing trees or branches, the harder you press the thicker the line, lift as you come up to get a thinner line and wiggle your brush a little to give the tree/branch/weed some character.

When doing grass, get your hand and brush moving in a circular motion before you get to the canvas, when you get the rhythm, touch the canvas on the upstroke. Big circles = tall grass, little circles – short grass.

Flat or Round Sable brush - You can create leaf shapes by loading your brush with a good amount of paint but it should be worked into the bristles then start by touching the edge (flat brush) or the end (round brush) then as you move the brush press and twist then twist and lift to finish. You can create all shapes of leaves and grasses using this stroke but it does take some practice.

Wet into Wet – The area to be painted is first painted with water to make the paper wet, when you add paint to this area the paint will spread on its own and will create soft edges and blends with other colors.

Wet on Dry – the paper is dry so when you apply the paint you will get hard edges.

Using a flat or an angle brush if you load the paint on the tip or a corner and work it into the brush you can get a nice graded stroke.

With a round brush to get a graded color working wet on dry, apply the color, rinse your brush and dry it and with a damp brush run it along the edge you want to soften.

These are just a few of the ways you can use your brushes and the watercolor but it isn't by any stretch of the imagination the complete list. Watercolor is a very versatile medium it is up to you as the artist to find the ways it works best for you.

PV class, We will be working on the apple please download and print so you have it in class.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Watercolor Class Winter 2011


Torrance class, we finished up the snow picture so please be ready to do the poppy on Monday. Download and print the reference picture NOT my painting of it, for reference.

PVAC class – We started a water picture using a photo I took along the PV cliffs near Lanada Bay. The water was clear and calm so you could see to the bottom close to shore. Each situation – calm or choppy, few waves or big crashers – poses it's own set of problems but the first one may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how easy it is to do (I saw it in class even after I explained it) and that is to have a horizontal horizon line. That means that it needs to be parallel to the top and the bottom of the paper. Use a ruler if you have to but please, make the horizon line straight when there is water involved. This holds true for oceans, lakes, ponds, fish tanks or glasses of wine, anytime you have a liquid involved it is going to be level otherwise it will look like it is spilling and we don't want that especially when large bodies of water are concerned.

Since this was a demo on water, I will focus on the water aspect more so than the rest of the painting but will do some brief descriptions of what I did in those areas.

The first thing I did was to mask out any areas that I need to be white at the end, it has to dry completely before you can put wet next to it but you can do the sky. The sky area was first painted in just clear water, this will help the paint to move on its own. Next I picked up a little blue and a touch of sienna (if you have cerulean blue that is a good sky color on its own) and water to make a light gray/blue on my palette then I just touched this color along the top part of the sky and a few places lower and let the wet paper and paint work their magic. This will work better if you work at a slight angle so gravity can help out, if you are working flat, you may have to coax the paint along thru this whole process. The water will be painted exactly like this – wet into wet – so the elevation of your paper will only help you.

You might want to let the sky dry before you start on the water so you don't get any "blooms" into your sky though they could look like clouds later on.

Starting at the horizon, I wet the water area with clean water, again to help the paint move on my paper. With that same gray/blue color I just used in the sky, I touched my brush along the horizon. I want to keep my strokes horizontal just touching the paper as I go back and forth. As I come forward, I pick up more blue but I need to keep it light so add water if you need to. Just past the point of the bluff I finished wetting the paper then started adding touches of Hooker's green into my blue mix, touching this color along the base of the bluffs and along the sides of the paper leaving that sandy area getting greener as I came closer to shore. In the sandy area I picked up sienna and water and added it into a corner of the green color on my palette, just enough of the green to slightly gray the color. I touched this warm color to the wet paper and let the tow colors blend together on the paper by themselves. If your paper has dried, you may need to re-wet before you do this, or use some water on your brush and touch the areas between the green water and the sand. Do not worry about the blooms if they happen, they add texture to the under painting.

Please keep this step very light. These are just tints, if you get too dark too soon it could be hard to get the highlights you will need later.

While the water is drying, if you want to paint the cliffs and the shore sand, now is a good time. On the cliffs I used sienna with touches of orange for the dirt areas, please note that the dirt is sliding down at different angles so make your strokes follow the angles. Leave spaces for the trees and bushes which I painted in first with a mix of sap green and yellow very lightly and detailed them darker later.

The sand on the shore is a mix of yellow, a tiny touch of purple to gray the color (purple is the compliment to yellow) and a lot of water, this too is just a tint.

When the water is dry, again starting at the horizon with the flat edge of my angle brush (a flat brush or round will work, practice with it first) and using a slightly darker version of the gray/blue (blue with a touch sienna and water), I touch the end of my brush to the dry paper keeping my brush parallel to the top and bottom of the paper, this will keep my strokes horizontal. As I touch the paper, I will leave some areas the show the under painting, this is good, it acts like sparkles on the water.

Just like I did in the first step, I add blue as I come forward, still using the same technique of touching though I was tilting it a bit so I could use more of the side of the brush switching to the Hooker's green in the foreground. Also, my strokes got further apart as I came forward as well as longer – think wave swells.

Rule of thumb for distance: Things that are closer to you are larger, further apart, more detailed and more intense in color, as things go off into the distance they become smaller, closer together, less detailed and softer and grayer in color. This works for everything.

There is some reflection and shadows in the water, I do want you to notice that the reflection has a broken edge caused by the action of the waves so when you paint these colors onto your paper, paint them just the same way as you have been painting the swells with the blues and greens just use a darker green/blue and sienna with a touch of blue where the dirt reflects.

I should state at this point that if you want more intense colors and darker values, you will need to repeat this step several times. I only did this once through so you can get an idea of how to paint water because of time constraints. If I was to do this for myself – and I might finish this at home – I would definitely intensify the values and the colors. That doesn't mean that I would cover up everything I did, it would mean that I would add more color and more detail especially to the foreground, leaving some of the existing color to indicate waves of different sizes and shapes, it could take a couple more hours to finish this the way I feel it should be finished.

Along the shore where I have my masking fluid saving the foam, I want to be sure that I get some darker color around the masked off areas whether you are using the blue or the green, be sure that you get that color in so your waves will show up when we take the mask off. There are also some rocks along the shore that will help define the foam along the shore, the rocks are a mix of sienna and blue to make a dark color and when you add the rocks to the point of the bluff they should be lighter (see Rule of Thumb above), smaller less detailed than the ones near the foreground. This same color with a bit more blue and water can be used for the dark shapes in the water just remember to rinse your brush and use the damp brush to soften the edges of these shapes. When the paper is totally dry you can remove the masking.

The cliffs and trees can be finished by adding more washes of color, remember that the light colors are your highlights so don't paint them all out. You can add shadows, intensify the color, how ever you want to finish it. Enjoy the process, don't be in such a hurry to get a painting done as you gain experience you will also gain speed but really it is the journey you take when painting that should be the most enjoyable aspect, the rest is frosting.

The next class I will be going over brush strokes so there is no photo to down load just have some paper to work on.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter 2011 Watercolor class


Torrance students: The instructions for this week's class are pretty much the same as for the PV class a couple of weeks ago so check the archives for that lesson. The only thing I did that was different, I added more masking to protect the foreground trees and some of the branches before adding the middle ground trees and another wash on the snow.

PV – Poppy

To save time, I had already drawn the sketch of my poppy on my paper before class, that said, it really doesn't make a difference if you have your design on before or do it after this first step, so if you don't have your design on, you can wait until the paper is dry then add the design.

I do want to point out a vital issue when you are organizing your design, that is you main subject should be important on the page. If you are working from a photo – either your own or out of a magazine – you are not bound by what you see in that photo. Your priority is your paper. Make the subject big enough to show its importance. This is especially true when you only have one subject, fill the paper with the subject. My poppy takes up almost 3/4th of the paper because I what everyone to know it is important. I kept most of it out of the middle, just off center and I even have part of it going off the page. When you do take part of something off the page be sure that it looks like you intended to do it, don't take the tips of your petal, for instance, to the edge of your paper because if you mat it, it will visually look like it is stuck on the mat, so if it is going off the paper, make it definite.

To start this first step – and this is what a lot of you missed – I wet the paper first, first by spraying it with my spray bottle then with my big brush to get it well coated with water. Next, using my 1" angle brush i.e. the biggest brush you have, I picked up color on my palette that had enough water in it so it was drippy and splattered color on my paper. I used most of my colors except my browns and while it was wet I tilted my paper, threw on some salt and added some plastic wrap before I was all through.

A word of caution: Throwing paint can start to feel too good and you can very quickly go from interesting to mud in a blink of an eye so it is better to stop sooner rather than later and let it dry, you can always add more if you want later. Let it dry completely before starting the next step especially if you added plastic it will take longer for the paper to dry under the plastic.

The first area I painted was the center of the poppy. I used yellow and made a ragged top edge to suggest the fuzzy form of the center, along the bottom of that yellow I added touches of orange and sienna for shadow.

Now the color for the background is not important, I could have – and have in other things I have painted – used black ink for the entire background but for this demo I picked up my red, blue, purple and hooker's green to paint in the area behind the flower and leaves, this is called "negative painting" and it is something that as a watercolorist you will use quite often. Basically, I started with my most concentrated color – more pigment, less water – in the lowest part of the spaces between the petals keeping the color more vivid until I got past the end of the petal then I rinsed my brush and with clear water along the outside edge of that color while it was still wet, I bled it into the background. You may have to rinse your brush often to get it to fade out, just be sure you do not have excess color on your brush before you start this process. When I changed colors, I would blend the new color into the old so there was hardly a noticeable transition from one color to the next. I continued this process until I had all of the flower and the leaves outlined with the color.

Have your reference photo at the ready so you can see where the shadows are on the flower. The color I used for the shadows on my flower will always be blue with a touch of purple, no sienna this time, but lots of water. You want a thin wash for most of the shadows and by letting the area dry before you go over parts with the next wash, the wash doesn't even need to be darker because with water as you add layers, you also add density. Remember to take a damp brush and soften the edges of the color as you put it down.

In the center next to the yellow, you may need to mix a darker value of the blue and purple (less water) to get a dark enough color to carve out the fuzzy top, this is again negative painting because you are painting around the thing, not the thing its self.

The leaves were under painted with yellow then with sap and hooker's green depending on whether the area was light or darker, I negative painted in the veins of the leaves.

While I was doing my demo, people were asking whether I ever used white or pen and ink – yes to both. While I try not to make a habit of using white because it can make a color look chalky, I do occasionally need to use it, this was a good case in point. The splattered soft background tinted all of my paper so I didn't have any white and the edges of my flower looked a bit dingy so I borrowed some white and brightened a few of my lightest areas.

To finish my painting off, I took a permanent, fine tipped marker and added lines and detail around the edges of my flower, leaves and center. Remember, this is art, there are no hard and fast rules. If you want to use white or black, ink washes, collage or what ever strikes your fancy, feel free to do so, that is the only way you are going to know what it is you enjoy about art.

Next week I will be doing a water demo, maybe some rocks or…I'll find something to help you on your journey. See you soon.