Saturday, July 23, 2011


Watercolor – Demo: Pelicans

PV students look back in the previous entries for detail descriptions on doing the sky and the island, we did out clouds a bit different because instead of lifting, we negative painted the clouds. By using a little blue on the tip of my angle brush, I painted the sky behind the area where I wanted my clouds to be. In negative painting you paint what is around the thing you are painting, not the thing itself. Next, I rinsed my brush and with a damp brush, blended out the top of that line of paint into the sky so I didn't have a hard line. I rinsed my brush again and with a damp brush, lightly went over the other side of the line to soften it – clouds should not have hard lines – and I rinsed often so I didn't get too much blue into the tops of my clouds. I did a similar thing along the top edges of the birds to increase he contrast between their light areas and the clouds.

The under painting for the pelicans is also in the previous entry and please refer to the picture page to get an idea of where you need to be in class.

The one thing I didn't do in the Torrance class – I will when we meet next – is to do the water. It was suggested that the water needed to have more blue and though I do like the greenish color, I did think it could stand a bit of detail and I could accomplish both at the same time.

I turned my painting so that it was vertical and using my blue with a tiny touch of purple on my brush (I used my 1/2 " angle brush but a small round or liner brush will also work), using just the edge of my brush, I made a series of slightly curved, vertical lines. Sometimes these lines touched, sometimes they didn't, I wanted to leave the color underneath to suggest highlights and I sometimes used just a clean damp brush to lightly blend areas together. Also, the marks near the foreground were wider, darker in color and spaced further apart, as I went into the background, I was using mostly the color left on my brush making the marks lighter, I also made them smaller and closer together to create distance, they faded out altogether before they got to the island. I let the blooms that formed when I paintied in the island act like reflections in the water.

Torrance students, we worked on the birds adding detail and more shadows, this is where having a good print of the photo comes in handy, some of you have much better printers than I do but don't get too caught up in the details of the main bird, look more for the value changes that give the bird its shape.

Mix up a very dark mix of your blue, sienna and purple (mostly blue and sienna with very little water), this should look black even when painted on your paper, if you can see color or see the paper white coming through, it has too much water in it, add more pigment to make it dark. You can thin it out on your paper when you need to but for now it needs to be very dark.

Now you don't hear me say this often and I'm only suggesting this for specific areas, but if you have black (pause while you get over the shock) you can use it on the wing tip feathers, the tail feathers and the back of the head ONLY! These areas are pretty much black in color so it may help you get them dark enough but please, these areas only. Make sure you rinse your brush well and that you don't have any black in your mixing area, it is a color killer, use the dark mix for the rest of the shadows because it will be more alive.

There are dark shadows under the wings, around the eyes and under the top part of the bill and under the body. You will notice that there is a bit of reflected light on the breast of the main bird I added a touch of orange to the wet area and lightly blended the edges into the surrounding dark with a damp brush.

Be aware of your brush strokes, they should follow the growth pattern of the feathers and will change depending on what part of the bird you are painting at the time.

My photo didn't have the pelicans in their mating plumage so I looked on the Internet to see what I could find to liven my birds up, they do become more colorful when looking for mates. Starting around their eyes, the feathers are a burnt sienna color that fades to orange then yellow as it goes back on the head, this will test your blending skills and be sure to use a small enough brush so you aren't fighting your equipment, I saw this with several of you. Even I change brushes occasionally.

On the bill, the tip of it is yellow, then it goes into a mix of red and a touch of orange, darker near the tip and fading back to the eyes, then under the chin it seems to be darker near the face and lighten as it goes to the tip. On the distant birds just a touch of yellow on the head and a touch of the orange red on the bill and that is enough to suggest detail.

While you can call this done at this point if you want, as I look at my painting as I write this, I see a bit more I would like to do. It isn't necessary but just in case you feel your painting needs a bit more, this might help you get some ideas, otherwise, have something you want to paint in class on Monday and I can help you get started.

See you all in class.

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