Friday, April 22, 2011

Watercolor Utah Fall


PV Class – You will have to go back into the archives for the finishing touches to the boat. Please be ready to start the fall picture next class by having the photo and the drawing with you and have a drawing on your paper. The drawing does not need to be exact, just close enough so you have a decent road map. This also goes for my Torrance class if you haven't done so already.

Now the sky in this painting is a bit blah so as artists we can create something more interesting. For this painting I didn't want anything over powering to take away from the scene itself, I wanted something to compliment it so I choose blue to compliment the oranges in the trees.

Before I move on, I so want to remind you to have some elevation to the top of your painting, this will let gravity work for you and it in this first step it is essential that you get some movement in your paint. You don't have to work vertically like I do even an inch or two will help so put a roll of tape or your brush box or something under the top of your painting to get an angle.

First, I wet the sky area and the area where the distant hills are going to be. The reason for wetting all this area is one, I want the color to run down the paper and I don't want a hard edge where it runs into the hills so it visually looks like it is going behind the hills. Second, I am going to need the hills wet anyway, this will give that area a chance to dry slightly so edges will soften but not blur.

In the wet sky area with my 1" angle brush right along the top of the page I applied blue. I used ultra marine blue but you can use any blue you like, though I would advise not to use pthalo blue because it is a powerful color and it will not lift off.

After I applied the blue, I rinsed my brush and along the bottom of this color with a damp brush, I moved the color down with just the water on my brush. The paint may move enough on its own so this step might be unnecessary but it is good practice, just remember to rinse your brush between passes. You might also find that you need to add a bit more color to the top of the paper so repeat these steps as needed.

Your sky shouldn't take too long to do so everything should still be pretty wet. If you want to add clouds, you can lift them with a paper towel or your brush or you can drop water into the wet sky, this is optional and you might want to try it out on a separate piece of paper before starting your sky but it is okay to add clouds.

If your hill area has dried, you will need to rewet the hills and the sky just above the hills by maybe a quarter inch, just enough so the paint will have some place to go when we are doing the distant trees. The colors I used for the hills was a watered down mix of sap green and a touch of purple, just enough to gray the green slightly. Remember that as things go into the distance they become less intense and grayer in color so keep this color very pastel. Also have an orange ready that is mixed with a lot of water and some of the green mix to slightly gray the orange, you will be working back and forth between these colors as you paint in the hillsides. Notice in the photo that there are patches of the orange color all across the hills, when you want to add the orange, just drop it in or lightly touch the tip of your brush to the paper and let it blend in on its own. Another thing I need to mention is not to worry about the dark foreground pine trees just paint the hills like the trees weren't there, you need that color behind the trees for one reason the second and most important is because the pines are so much darker the color on the hills won't affect them much if at all. It will save you the added misery of trying to put the hill color in after you have painted the pines.

If and you are painting the hills the paper seems to be getting dry, you can rewet as often as you need to. If you are working under a vet or it is a dry day, you paper may dry out faster than you can paint so don't be afraid to rewet if you need to.

Once you have finished painting the base colors in for the hills, there are some trees on them that need to be painted in while the paper is still wet or at least damp, you don't want it dripping wet but it should still feel damp to the touch. In that same green/gray mix you made add a touch of green and a touch of blue to darken it slightly. This value isn't much darker that what you have already, it just needs to have a bit of contrast against what is there.

These are distant clumps of trees and they are not phone polls, they should be various sizes should be clumps both large and small, as well as individual trees, also, don't line them up like a tree farm, these are wild trees. They are also suggestions of trees so no detail, just make a vertical mark or marks and let the wet paper do the rest. We may come back and add some features, not necessarily detail, just keep it simple at this point. Now let it dry completely before starting the next step.

The next area we will be painting is the line of green and orange trees in the middle ground. Actually, we won't be painting the trees we will just be painting their basic highlight color. The orange trees are pretty straight forward because they are orange we need a lighter version of the color to under paint them, the green trees aren't so obvious to most. Look in the lightest areas of the green trees you will notice they are very yellow so that will be our under painting for the green trees.

I wet the areas for the trees as I painted them doing the yellow first then the orange, if the colors blend a bit together that is okay, do not worry about it. The yellow was fairly rich in intensity meaning I used more color and less water, the orange was a bit different it was basically orange but I added a touch of red because it is more of a salmon color and a lot of water, I want to keep this light. You may also need to add a bit of water as you paint, remember this is just the under painting for the trees just paint the mass color and don't worry about whether they look like trees at this point. Let this dry completely.

The last thing I did was I started adding in the dark pine trees and as I did that, shaped my middle ground trees using negative painting. First the pines: I mixed my Hooker's green with a touch of purple to make a very dark green, there was only a little water. I used my angle brush and working on dry paper, I first made a straight line to mark the top of the tree – not the whole trunk, just the top – then starting from that line with a flicking motion, I made the branches of the tree. This is something you may need to practice on another piece of paper, the problem I saw around the room was people were either painting them too solid and too uniform or were making them look like fish skeletons, branches come out from all sides of a tree, there are gaps between branches, branches from one tree overlap the tree next to it there could be smaller trees in between…It is Nature, it is messy.

At the top of the trees you might see some individual small branches, but as you work your way down, the branches get longer and more congested there are also more shadows so add more blue or purple to you color near the base. There is something else you need to do as you get near the other trees and that is to create the shapes of the middle ground trees with this dark green color by negative painting the outside shape of the green and orange trees. Remember to be random in your shaping, these are not manicured trees, they will have odd shapes. We will do more of this next class. Negative painting is how we keep our light areas in watercolor.

We will continue this at Torrance and will start this at PV so be ready to work. See you all soon.

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