Saturday, July 16, 2011


Watercolor Class – "Pelican's in Flight"

PV students, you are about a week behind the Torrance class so please check the archives to see what we have been doing. I cover the same material. If you are going to follow along with the pelican project, please have the photo and the drawing on the picture page downloaded and printed so you can have them for class. If possible, have the drawing on your watercolor paper before class so we can get started.

Torrance students we did get pretty far along with our painting with any luck at all, we might finish it in the next class so you might want to have something else handy to work on.

We have been practicing sky and clouds for the past couple of weeks so check the previous entries for detailed instructions on how to do the sky. This does take practice to get a nice graded blend, just remember that it is art, not a photograph so those little imperfections are what give your painting character. Perfect really isn't necessary and may not even be desirable.

If you feel it necessary, you can mask out the light areas of the pelicans with masking fluid, I really didn't feel it necessary, I just kept a paper towel handy and when paint was in areas I didn't want it, I just wiped it out of the area, this is just another way to save your whites and it shows you that you needn't panic about your white areas if you forget to mask them prior to painting the area. You could also wait until it was dry and lift color out if you haven't used a staining color. Mostly what will make it look white is contrast. I will get to that later.

Once you have your background in and it has dried completely (ß this is important), if you have mask on your pelicans remove it. Masking can create hard uneven lines so you might want to take a damp brush and soften and straighten your lines. Rinse and dry your brush often, otherwise you may end up putting down paint rather than lifting it.

We are now going to under paint the pelicans and I need to remind everyone that we do this in layers or washes. Everything that isn't white can all be painted with this first wash of color because it will be dark anyway and this gets us started. What you want to avoid is finishing as you go and when you are a beginner it is an easy habit to get into, you want to see it done but you need to have patience, it will pay off in the end.

I mix my standard grey – ultra marine blue, burnt sienna and a touch of purple – keeping it on the cool side. Mix in enough water to make a medium light grey color, not too dark not too light. This is the first wash of color I will use on my pelicans, it will go on everything that isn't white. In the areas where this color come close to the white areas, I rinse my brush and with a damp clean brush I run it right along the edge of my color to make a graded color that blends into the white area. This is exactly what we did in the sky when we were blending the color down with just water but on a much smaller scale.

There were also several areas like under the wings where there is a bit of reflected light shining up into the shadow areas, remember they are flying over water so there probably would be a lot of reflected light hitting them. I did a similar thing as mentioned above, I put my color in the darkest areas (this is where having the reference photo is your best guide), rinsed my brush then teased the color into the lighter area with just the water on my brush.

Another thing I want to mention is when I have to remix the color when I run out I am more concerned about matching the value (lightness or darkness of a color) than I am matching the color. I use the same 3 colors but if it is more brown than blue or more purple, I can always add a bit more of the other colors to get closer, it is the amount of water that changes the value in watercolor.

I also needed to darken behind the light areas of the birds so there would be some contrast between the birds and the clouds. I used a little bit of blue on my brush and put it next to the white areas of the birds, rinsed my brush and blended it out into the clouds behind. You need to have contrast – light against dark – to show that your light areas are really light. I may need to do more, but I will wait until the end to see if and how much more I need to do.

This is where we stopped, I hope that everyone (Torrance) can be near this point when we meet on Monday. Like I said, we may finish this project depending on where the class is at the end of the day so start looking for something you would like to paint.

No comments: