Watercolor PV Class – Washes and Trees
Since we aren't doing a project, I am trying to concentrate of some specifics. I look around class and see where you are having problems or struggling too hard to make things happen, remember my saying: If you fight the watercolor, the watercolor will win. Most of you are still waging war with your watercolors and loosing the battle. You cannot will things to happen with watercolor, you need to learn to work with it, when you finally do, you will be much happier.
First washes. As I look around class, I see that many of you still do not understand what a wash is or how to create one. Basically, a wash is a wash or glaze of color. It can be just one color or many but its main characteristic is its transparency.
You can create a wash a couple of ways, for beginners the easiest way is wet into wet – wet paint onto wet paper. Before you put brush to paper, make sure that the top of your paper is raised so gravity can help you (at least an inch or two) also, you might want to create wells or puddles of the colors you will to use for your wash and then wet the area of your paper where you are going to use these colors. A wash can be as big as your sky or as small as an individual leaf, think about all the places you can use a wash. While your paper is wet add one of the colors and let it run down through the wet area. When it has gone as far as you want, you can add another color or colors, you can turn your paper, tilt it change the angle…Experiment with how the paint blends as it moves through the wet area of the paper. You can also add just water to make it move more, how it moves is yours to explore, I can only give you suggestions to try.
The other method of creating a wash is wet on dry – wet paint on dry paper. With this method you paint an area with your color, rinse your brush and with the damp brush, start at an edge and work the color across. If you want a graded color (dark to light), rinse your brush often as you move across the area you want covered. You can also add other colors the same way starting in a dry area then blending with water until the two colors meet. The only way you will know how this works is to do it and that means practice.
You paint brushes are your tools. I know that sounds obvious but how you use them will dictate the outcome of your painting. Like the difference between a master carpenter and a kid building his/her first bird house, while the tools may be the same, the outcome is very different. That master carpenter probably did start out building bird houses that no self respecting bird would get caught dead in but as the skill of the carpenter increased so did the likelihood that the houses became more desirable. He/she may still be using the same saws, hammers, planes that were used on the first bird house, so that hasn't changed, just the skill and knowledge of how these things work in concert to help the carpenter to make bigger and better things. The same thing goes for your brushes, the more you use them and try different things with them the more knowledge you have on how they work and where they work best. Practice.
I did a demo on some different tree barks. Trees come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Some have rough bark, some have smooth, some have peeling bark, some have thorns, it is your job as an artist to create the idea of these different textures since you aren't creating the actual texture of the bark, just a visual representation of the bark. Remember: We are illusionists; with our brushes we create illusions of things we want to share with others.
For the rough textured bark, I used the edge of my angle brush - working on dry paper- straight on, making short, choppy, vertical strokes. I went from a dark mix of sienna, blue and purple to orange/yellow using this same technique across the trunk of the tree. The smooth bark tree can be done with either a wet into wet wash or wet on dry. If we into wet, you can put the paint down then turn your paper so the paint will run into the wet area and lay it flat when you want it to stop. You may have to lift a bit of color in the sunlit area. If you do wet on dry, remember to rinse you brush often and if you use choppy strokes you can create some texture on the tree.
The eucalyptus was done wet into wet with a base color of sienna though some are more gray, then dropping color into the wet tree trunk. These trees can have almost any color from greens and blues to pinks and oranges especially if they have just dropped their bark. Look as some up close, take pictures. Have fun.
The final tree was a white barked tree like a birch or aspen. Remember, just because something looks white doesn't mean that it is white. Quite often there is little if any actual white and that would be in the brightest spots. That said, I made a shadow color of blue and purple and started in my shadow area and with just water moved it around to create a graded wash on the trunk. While that dried a bit, I mixed a very dark color adding more blue, purple and sienna to create my darkest color. This is mostly paint with little water. Be sure that your brush is dry and a flat or angle brush will work best here. With this dark color, dry brush little "U" shaped marks on the tree or little dots and blotches. This is good for trees in the middle ground; close up trees may need more detail but work on this first.
May do more wood as a demo, I'm thinking about it.