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.

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