Friday, October 12, 2012

FALL 2012 WATERCOLOR CLASS – More Splattering

(Torrance the following will be what we will be doing in class this week. The drawing is on the picture page and the reference photo is in my Class Reference album if you are going to do the exercise.)

My whole purpose to the splatter projects is to make you less afraid to try something out of your comfort zone and see that you can make something wonderful.

This time I started with the drawing already on my paper so if I want to be a bit more selective on where I drop my paint, I will know where things are, then I wet the entire paper. I want the splatters to run and spread so my paper needs to be wet, the color I used to splatter or drip into the wet paper were very dilute so when they dried, they were just very pale suggestions of color. I noticed that some of you were having problems with this one, because your paper was too dry second, the paint you were trying to splatter didn’t have enough water with it. This is call “wet into wet” for a reason everything needs a lot of water to make it work.

While everything is still wet and running, you can tilt your paper in any direction you want. Notice that I didn’t tell you which colors to use, that is totally up to you, they just need to be very watery.

Now comes the hard part: Letting the paper dry completely. You can use a hair dryer if you want but let the paint do its things for a couple minutes before you drag out the dryer because it will stop all the subtle action that is going on, on your paper as paint and water mix so don’t get trigger happy with that dryer.

The other part of this lesson is contrast. Most of you are just so timid when it comes to getting really dark that your paintings look flat and lifeless. To make this poppy stand out from the background, you need to get dark. The darker you can get the negative space around the flower, the more that flower will stand out from the paper. Also note that I was using a variety of colors in my background. While it was predominantly green, I added colors like blue, purple, sienna, orange, yellow, red almost every color I have on my palette, this gives the background interest it creates soft shapes and suggestions of “stuff” happening around the poppy. Also note that I started with the leaves under painting them with a yellow wash and not really worrying about if I stayed in the lines or not. The background will be dark so what does it matter if I paint outside the lines?

Therest of the poppy I painted normally using blues and purples for the shadows, yellow and oranges for the center, this part you should be able to figure out by now.

Once the painting was as done as I could get it in class, I asked if anyone could see the splatters? There was a universal “Oh!” as people realized that you didn’t see the rainbow of colors that I started out with but a white poppy that seemed to glow. Is this the way you should paint all the time? That is a question only you can answer but you should keep it in your “bag of tricks” and pull it out every once in a while, it will make you happy.

Please have your own project for class next week, I will do demos as needed. See you in class.

PV Watercolor demo - More Splattering

Torrance Class - Finished Scotty's Truck.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

FALL 2012 WATERCOLOR CLASS – Scotty’s truck

Torrance class you will need to go to the previous blog entry for your class notes.

PV class we are up to finishing the truck, how you finish it depends on you, I will go over what I did to finish mine.

First, I wanted to make sure that I had enough intensity to my color. The truck should pop off the page if your color is intense enough. Your darks need to be dark – and cool. Many of you had shadows that were too brown making them warm. The rest of the colors need to be rich in color. If your truck looks washed out it is because you need to increase the intensity of your color. You can keep your light areas light and still enrich the colors, always start in the darker parts of the area you are working on, rinse you brush and move the paint towards the lighter area. By comparison you will still have dark and light areas but your colors will intensify.

Watercolor is all about layers and it will take several to get to the point you need. Some may take 2 or 3 other times it may take 5 or more but you do what you need to, to get the intensity of color your painting requires.

For the shadows on the ground I used mostly blue and purple with a touch of sienna in it to gray is slightly. The shadows are important in this painting so don’t overlook them.

When I got to a point where I felt I was done with the painting part of the project, I looked to see where I could start adding – or in some cases – lifting detail. In the shadows in the cab and inside the engine compartment there is “stuff”. It is a bit hard to see but it is there, remember that all that stuff is, is shapes. You don’t have to figure out if it is a carburetor or whatever, just either add some dark shapes or lift out some lighter shapes. Lifting you just use a clean damp brush and go over an area. Rinse and dry your brush often.

You can lift out some detail on the fenders as well. If you want a dent, lift a light area off the fender, then on the left side add a touch of a shadow, look at your reference photo for details. Or where the hood meets the lower part of the engine compartment, you can lift a bit of highlight along the top edge of that lower part. Detail is up to you on just how much you want to put in or leave out.

Lastly, if you want to go over some of the edges and do some of the detail with a fine point Sharpie pen wait until your paper is good and dry before you start then you can go around all the edges or just parts of the edges if you want. Add some detail with the Sharpie if you want. There is a chain hanging out the door on the floor of the truck, make some marks that look like chain or add some wood texture to the wood frame. Add some bolts or some rocks or ??? what you do is up to you at this point, whatever you do have fun with it.

I may have another quick project for class when we meet again but please have something of your own to work on from this point out. I will do mini demos to help with problem areas. See you in class.

Torrance Truck Week 2

PV Truck Week 3 Finished

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall 2012 Watercolor Class – Scotty’s Truck

Torrance students please refer to the previous blog entry, you are about a week behind PV.

You should have the first wash of color on your truck from here until the end it will be about intensifying the color and deepening the shadows. Remember watercolor works best if you do this in layers of washes rather than trying to do it all at once. Before you start, please look at the reference photo of the actual truck and not the place where I left off in class that photo is there so you can see where we left off and where you need to be before you start the next step, the actual truck shows you where you need to go.

Look at each part of the truck before you try to paint it. What you are looking for are highlights and shadows also where the rust might be a different color or have some texture. The more detail you can observe in your subject the better the outcome of your painting even if you are wanting to be more impressionistic, the devil is in the detail as they say, most painting go through a stage where they look very impressionistic it is where you take it from there with the amount of detail you put in that will make a more realistic painting.

For instance, look at the front fender. If you will notice around the outside edges it is a lot darker than the top, it isn’t a sudden change bot a gradual one with very soft edges. To paint the fender to get that look you start where it is the darkest with your color and using water on your brush move it towards the lighter area, this is called a graded wash.

The basic color for the metal parts of the truck are always going to be burnt sienna, a touch of orange and a little touch of purple. That will be the base color that you can add other colors to or more of one of the 3 basic colors depending on what you are trying to accomplish. There is some water in this mix and it is still a wash but it is not as thin as the first couple of washes, you paint should not look or feel pasty or thick when you put it on, it still needs to feel like painting with water. Some of you were using your paints way too thick a problem that can happen when you use them straight out of the tube.

I use my ½” angle brush and load the color on the tip and first third of the brush, you can use any brush you feel comfortable with but will have to practice to get the same effect. I put the tip of the brush where the color is the darkest but my whole brush is on the paper. I paint around these darker areas, and then I rinse my brush, take off the excess water and with just the damp brush I go back into the darker paint and start working it into the lighter areas. If you do it right you will have the edges darker and the top of the fender lighter. Yes, you may have to do this more than once because watercolor dries lighter but each time you will repeat this step just don’t got as far into the light area each time and you will see the fender start to pop off the page.

I know that it is tempting to go into the dark area with a very dark color and get it over with but please try to resist that urge and build the shadow just like the lighter areas of the truck. With your dark color – which is the above mix with more blue and purple added, BTW -  once you start to get the area dark enough to suggest shadow, go back in with more shadow color and just make some shapes especially in the cab of the truck and where the engine was because there might be “stuff” in those shadows and it will make your dark areas look like there is something there besides just dark.

The rock needs to have a shadow on it this is going to be a mix of blue and purple, again look at the rock before you start to paint, it is darker further under the truck and along the sides. If you “pat” the brush to the paper it will create a bit of texture the rock will need otherwise it could look like a smooth river rock, rather hard to find in the desert.

I have not done my shadows yet but if you feel like you can paint them, use the blue and purple mix with just a touch of sienna in it and keep your edges soft.

We will be finishing up the truck in the next class so if you want to do some detail with a pen, have a fine tipped Sharpie with you at the next class. See you all next time.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall 2012 Watercolor - Scotty's Truck

Torrance Students: The PV class is a week ahead of you so you will need to use the previous week's blog entry for the class notes after we start the painting.

PV Students: I wanted to show you that you don't always need to have your drawing on first before you started a painting but if you have something specific in mind, it is important to have your reference handy so you can make adjustments if you need to.

Starting a watercolor by splattering the background can be a very effective way to loosen up your painting but also yourself. It lets you see that you can do a lot to a watercolor and still get great results.

To start this process I spritz my paper in a few places with my sprayer. I DID NOT WET the entire paper! I only spritz randomly to hit it a couple times with water though most of the paper was dry, otherwise all of my splattering would become very soft and blend in with what was around it. That is something to keep in mind for another painting.

You can use a tooth brush or a paint brush or both, I was using my 3/4" angle brush with lots of water and color on it as I flicked it on my paper. I sorta kept the warm colors (reds, yellows and oranges) in the upper 2/3's and my cooler colors (blues, greens and purples) near the bottom but there was plenty of mingling, some of which I caused by tilting my paper.

After my paper dried,  I transferred my drawing onto my paper using graphite transfer paper but you can rub a #4 pencil on the line of the back of your pattern, place that side down on your paper and go over the lines, works about the same. Putting your drawing on after painting your background often works better than doing it before all the water and paint hit it because graphite can dissolve and you will need to draw it on again.

When you have your drawing on your paper you will start the under painting process. Remember that in watercolor we go from light to dark so we will be building up to those dark shadows with layers of paint.

You will need your reference photo so you can find the lightest areas on the truck, they will be on the hood, fenders around the door and parts of the frame. On those areas you can use a light wash (little paint, lots of water) of either orange or yellow or a combination of the two, the most important part of this is to keep it light with lots of water.

Next, over the rest of the truck - that includes the shadows - mix a bit of burnt sienna into the orange/yellow mix you just used, keep it to the orange side but still keeping it light then go over everything that is metal on the car including all the shadow areas, we will pull those out with the next wash but because they will be very dark we need to build the dark layer by layer. Watch out for the wooden frame in the door and in the cab, those should be painted with a blue/green mix but wait until the surrounding area is dry. The rock below can also get a light wash of this color.

Let this layer dry completely, you can use a hair dryer to speed up the process, then once it is dry, use you sienna, with a touch of purple and water into that color you were using and go over all your shadow areas with this color. We aren't trying to get our final darkness yet all we are doing at this point is finding our light and dark areas. This color can also go on the tire.

This is where we stopped, I hope that everyone is at or near this point when we meet again.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


PV Class you will need to go to the previous blog post for the things we covered in class.

For those of you who really don’t like to do a lot of negative painting, I showed how you can use masking fluid to speed up the process. The one thing that you must remember is that your paper needs to be COMPLETELY DRY before you add the masking fluid. Be particularly aware of areas where paint/water may pool up like the junction of meeting lines of masking, if the paper is even a bit moist, the masking fluid can soak into the paper and ruin your hard work. Rinse your brush every minute or so and re-soap it so the masking won’t stick to the bristles, other than that, you will notice only a little, if any, removal of color when you remove the dried masking.

Be sure that you have made your dark areas dark enough not only behind the bunny but also the bunny’s bum and behind the rocks.

When you have added as may layers of weeds as you think you want whether you have used to negative painting method or the masking fluid method, you may want to detail out some of the weeds to give them more structure especially those near the bunny. I started this process last week and will do some more on it this week as well as adding some darks into the weeds (yes, more negative painting) and then I should be done with the rabbit.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


PV Class you will need to go back to previous blog entries as the Torrance class is a couple weeks ahead of you.

Many times when I am painting in watercolor, I will establish my values first before adding color, this is what I did on the rabbit. I got most of my values at least half way before I added any color. Watercolor is a transparent medium and so I use that to my advantage with my under painting, by establishing the values, I don’t need to worry about do I have the color right all I’m concerned about is light and dark remembering that in watercolor you work light to dark, once I have clearly defined my light and dark areas, then I start to add color.

That said, I was to that point with my bunny. It doesn’t mean that I am done with my values at this point, it just means that I can now introduce color and work to intensify not only my values but also my colors. I was using my ¼” angle brush but a small flat brush or a small round will work as well, you just need something small because we are working on something small – the fur.

The colors I used varied very little and they were sienna, blue, yellow, orange and touches of purple depending on where I was painting on the bunny. It is essential that you have your reference photo where you can look at it often so you can see the subtle color changes in the fur and the direction the fur is growing, I can only show you technique the photo is you map to create this rabbit, it is the difference between “turn left at the big oak” and a Google street level map.

I used my brush on the very end so I was making small, fur like strokes. It is a repetitive, slow process but unless you have a grass brush (it is a specialized type of brush), making small dry brush, strokes.

A couple of areas that you need to be aware of and they are areas behind the rabbit: One is the area behind the back end of the rabbit and the other is under its chin and down the front. The area at the back end needs to be lighter than the bunny behind so that the body shows up, so as you are doing your values be sure that you make the fur very dark though the opposite is true in the area in front of the bunny. The area under the chin and down the front needs to be very dark BEHIND the rabbit. This area needs to be dark so that the light fur that is backlit on its face and chest will show up. When you paint an area around the subject it is called “negative painting” and we use it a lot in watercolor. You may already be using it to do your weeds, just be sure to get that area dark.

Like I said, you can paint the weeds using negative painting, you can also use masking fluid. You can do this by adding a light layer of color or value, let it dry COMPLETELY use your masking fluid to add more weeds and repeat the step as many times as you feel necessary. Be sure that the masking fluid is dry before you paint your next layer or it could mess up your brush. Also, if you drop fluid where you don’t want it, just let it set up and peel it off, that is the easy way.

We should be about done with the rabbit next week so you might want to start looking for something you would like to paint for your next project. We will have a couple weeks off between classes and I hope that next semester is a lot smoother than this one has been. Thank you all for your support and understanding during this very trying time in my life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

This will be a brief summary of the past two weeks of painting the rabbit so you have an idea of what we did to get to this point.

First, I drew on the rabbit. I wanted to make him big enough on the paper so he is the focal point but left enough room in front of him so he can move. This is a “landscape” (horizontal) format vertical or portrait would make him too small in the painting and give too much importance to the rocks and weeds. Watch his proportions as you draw him, his body is just slightly more than 2 lengths of his head and his ears are the same length as his head (I measure from between his ears to his nose).

Once your drawing is on wet the entire paper. Don’t worry about the rabbit, he has a lot of the surrounding colors in him, it helps him hide there is also on actual white in the photo so we don’t need to protect or save white, everything gets color at this point.

I used A LOT of water with these first colors so they were just basically tints. They need to be very light because these colors will be the highlights in the finished painting. Remember in watercolor we paint from light to dark which mean to start very light and work in layers. If you are not a patient person, watercolor may not be the best medium for you because you will need patience.

Onto my wet paper I added these tints of yellow, orange, sienna even tints of gray I made by adding a tiny touch or purple to the yellow, then I let it dry completely.

When it was dry – and it needs to be totally dry for this next step – I added some masking fluid to a few areas that I thought I wanted to stay very light. This isn’t necessary but the masking does make it a bit easier so you can just paint and not have to worry about painting around something.

When the masking was dry, I added more of the same colors to most areas but this time I was a bit more selective. I didn’t add more to the rabbit at this time but I did add more general color in the rock areas and weed areas and avoided areas where I thought that light might hit I had my photo right in front of me so I wasn’t guessing. I added more gray tint into the shadows again, this can be the exact same color you used before because watercolor is accumulative and will look darker or more intense in the final painting.

I have not started to paint weeds yet I am just establishing light ad dark – sun and shadow – weeds will come later.

The rabbit I under painted with gray. Again I am not going for my dark darks yet but I do want to start to establish highlights and shadows. The gray can be the yellow and purple you were using or  a mix of blue, sienna and a touch of purple keeping it to the blue side/ Please have the photo there to look at when you are doing this and just paint what you see even if it doesn’t make sense right now, it will later on. Be sure to use water to lighten when you need to and always follow the direction of the fur growth with your brush strokes.

I think this was week 1 but there may be some crossover.

At this point we start getting more specific and we will be using both positive and negative painting.

Positive painting means that you are painting the thing itself lit the rabbit or the weed; negative painting means that you are painting the area AROUND the thing like the rock behind the rabbit or the shadows behind the weeds. This is a very important technique we use in watercolor and it goes back to what I said before about painting from light to dark. When we negative paint we are darkening the area behind something so it will look lighter in the end. You must have dark to show light and using negative painting is one way we accomplish that goal in watercolor.

On the rabbit I continued to use just the gray for now to intensify the shadows on the rabbit and to suggest some of the features such as the light rings around his eye. I still followed the fur growth. I also added some gray behind the rabbits face using negative painting to add color to the rock leaving that one side of his face lighter.

Behind the rabbit are a couple of very dark spaces under the rock but rather than paint it dark all at once I negative painted using layers of a lighter gray. Each time I added a layer, I painted around not only the rabbit but also I suggested weeds by painting shapes to suggest a tangle of weeds, each time adding more weeds and the area getting darker.

I also used the negative painting in the weeds in front of the rabbit and in the shadows. This can take time but you should be able to move around your painting as areas dry you can go back over them.

Another technique which I am not using because it means more drying time is to use the masking fluid on each layer of color to make your weeds. It is up to you.

There are also some weeds that are dark against the lighter rock that come up against the dark areas, these weeds you can positive paint using a similar value to the area left in the dark shadow, just continue them out into the light area use your liner or a round brush if you have one.

I will show you another way to make weeds next time so you might want to bring some plastic wrap J

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Watercolor Class Spring 2012

WATERCOLOR – Demo: The Importance Of Under Painting.
I like it when I can find students who are having problems in class because they make perfect examples for demos that will directly affect a students needs plus they are great teaching tools. This one illustrated the power of a good under painting.

When you are learning to paint whether it is watercolor, oils, acrylics or other colorful medium you only see what is in front of you whether you are doing plein aire or working from a photo, you tend to only see the whole or what you hope it will look like finished when what you should really be seeing is the pieces and parts that make up the whole, because that is your foundation, it is what give your finished painting strength and substance.

The first thing you need to do when you are planning how to start your painting is to look to see if there is an "under color(s)". It may take some time and effort, but eventually you will see what I'm talking about, for instance: Something simple like a lawn looks green – usually – and as a beginner, that is how you would paint it and you would not be satisfied with the results. A lawn, while it may be primarily green, it has a lot of other colors going on in it, even several colors and values of green. There are yellows, oranges, sienna, blues and purples all of these colors can go into the under painting, if you keep them light, then they can influence the finished grass. It is seeing them in the first place that is the hardest to convince your eye (left side of you brain).

The problem the student was having was she was trying to paint what she saw in her photo and she had tried it several times in different mediums without success. What she hadn't tried was to start with an under painting. Each element in her photo of the side of an old abandoned building had it's own under color. The corrugated metal panels each had a slightly different look to them: one was very pinkish, another green the other two were shades of blues and purples, the old wood panels had a warm sienna color, even the white wasn't white but a soft version of the wood. But there was different wood that had a more yellowish under tone, these are the colors that need to go on first then by adding layers or color, you build the elements in your painting.

Watercolor requires you to be patient and work in a methodical way one layer at a time, if you can't do this, if you try to go from point "A" to point "Z" in one step, you are going to be very disappointed with your work. This is not a race and as you learn you will paint faster but you will still be going through all the steps. Learn to see the under colors and learn to enjoy the process, your paintings will thank you for it.

Torrance only has 2 more classes, PV goes until June 12th. Classes at Torrance will start up again on June 19th so be sure to get signed up as soon as you can. If you have Google Chrome, I have started a Circle for my art classes if you want to comment or post a photo of things you are working on, it can be a bit more interactive than just a blog See you all soon.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Watercolor Spring 2012

There are many ways to do similar things with watercolor you can either paint around something and go by sections or you can use masking fluid so you can do it all at once, you need to try both to see which one you like because they both have their places and I do go back and forth depending on what I'm trying to accomplish.

When I need to get a soft, "out of focus" background often times I will use masking fluid to protect the subject and any area that is in the foreground, then I can wet the background and work without worrying about painting around something. This is also particularly handy when you have a lot small detail you want to avoid.

First I started with my drawing. I like to draw to scale. What that means is I like to have my drawing the same size as I'm going to paint so that it makes transferring easier. To get the right size for my watercolor paper, I use a mat that I can buy anywhere and mark out the inside dimension on my paper so I know how big I need to make my subject. I work on drawing paper or tracing paper because I can make my mistakes on there then I don't have to worry about hurting my watercolor paper's surface with erasing.

When I have my drawing the way I want it, I use a black felt pen to go over all my lines, then I can either use graphite paper or rub pencil on the back of the drawing as sort of a poor man's graphite paper or as I did in this case, I taped it to my back sliding glass door then tapped my watercolor paper of it in lieu of a light table (another option) and with a #2B pencil, I went over my lines also marking the corners of the matt dimensions.

After I have my drawing on my watercolor paper, I tape it down to my support using the matt corners as my guide, I tape just outside the corners so my painting area is large enough that when I go to matt the painting I won't have any white edges showing.

I then get out my masking fluid and mask my ENTIRE drawing. When you use the masking fluid it is best if you use an old brush or a cheap brush, have an old bar of soap or liquid soap handy and soap up the bristles wiping any excess off before dipping into the masking fluid. A couple do's and don'ts when it comes to the masking: DO NOT SHAKE IT! Even if you want to use one with a colorant in it you want to gently turn up and down to mix the color. When you shake it you create foam that won't go away for hours and if you use it on your paper the bubbles will break leaving your paper exposed and you will get paint where you don't want it. It also introduces oxygen into the fluid and will cause it to cure so when you go back to use it all you have is a chunk of rubber in the bottle.

Do not leave it in a warm area or where the sun will hit it or you will have a chunk or rubber. When not in use, keep the lid tightly closed or again, you will have a chunk of rubber. Rinse and re-soap your brush often – about every minute or so – to keep the fluid from curing in your brush creating a little chunk of rubber on the end of your brush. Clean your brush well after using  and even a cheap brush will last a long time.

When you apply the fluid be sure that you put enough on, don't try to spread it out so thin that you end up with gaps and be sure that you paper is dry before you put it on (you can use masking fluid in between washes as long as the paper is dry first) then let it dry completely before you start to paint, about 20 – 30 minutes generally. I let my mask dry naturally IF you use a hair drier be sure that you use one that has a low heat setting and hold it back at least a foot or more. If the masking gets hot it could melt into your paper and will tear the paper when you go to remove it.

Once the masking is dry you and paint and wet the paper to your hearts content. What you do is going to be influenced by what you are painting so be sure that you have your reference photo handy so you can decide what colors need to go where. If you need to, you can do another layer before you take off the masking just be sure that when you do take the masking off that the paper is totally dry. If you have lots of little spaces between the areas of masking, the water and paint can pool up there and make the paper wetter than other parts of the paper so it is better to be safe than sorry and leave it for an hour or more even over night if you can wait that long or use a hair drier (see above caution) because if the paper is wet and you try to remove the mask, you can tear the paper. If you are using a soft surface paper be extra careful, always rub into the mask not out towards the painted area. Sometimes you can get it started and it will just pull off but you may need to get a rubber cement pickup or you can turn tape so the sticky side is out to save your poor fingers from being rubbed raw.

This technique is very useful and can save a lot of time but you do need to plan ahead and once you have the mask on you want to work quickly so you can remove it as soon as possible. I have left it on my paper for a month with no problems, I made sure it was in a cool dry place but to be safe you want to get it off within a couple of weeks at most, don't think you can come back 6 months from now and be able to remove it because it will become part of the paper and will not come up.

I will think of something else to demo for next week, I hope to see you all soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring 2012 Watercolor Class

Watercolor – Apple Turnover Week 4

(They have "improved" Blogger so if you have any problems with the blog or the picture page link, let me know.)

In the last class at Torrance, I continued to add intensity to my colors. Intensity is different than value, whereas value is the lightness or the darkness of an area, intensity is the richness of the hue of a color. For instance, if your apples look too pale or pinkish you need to intensify the color, e.i. add more red. If your shadows aren't dark enough, they will need to be intensified with more blue and purple.

Remember with watercolor we need to sneak up on our color. It is much better to intensify a color in a series of washes than to cover it all in one step. You will loose the transparency of the watercolor if you do. I did add a light wash or orange to the apples in the sun that gave them a bit of a glow.

I also added a bit more to the texture of the basket/bucket buy using more dry brush to add more color inside and out. I also added color to the bands around the basket starting near the top with orange and a touch of sienna, bleeding it up into the lighter area and down a bit into the next darkest area continuing to work wet into wet by adding sienna to the next area, then sienna and purple to the area that is going into the shadows, then a bit more purple into the sienna as it goes into deep shadow. I worked wet into wet to get a smooth transition of color.

I added color and detail into my grasses using greens and sienna, some orange. I did lift out some bent over grasses and added color when I thought it needed it, the one thing I didn't do is worry over this process. I have my values in place all I need to do it add color it should be there when I'm done.

In the grass around the apples and basket, I just suggested texture and some shadows where the apples are sitting but again, less can be more.

The bale of the handle (that is the wire the wood handle is attached to), I lifted out with my brush and added a dark shadow to the back side of it.

The spaces between the slats on the basket and the knot holes I did with my small angle brush but they can be done with a liner if you feel more comfortable with that brush. I mixed up a dark color using my blue, purple and a touch of sienna to make my UNEVEN lines for my slats (remember it is old cheap wood) and any other detail  thought it needed.

Finish this up how ever you want. You can be very detailed or not, it is up to you. I am stopping here because I really don't think I need to do much more but I do want to live with it for a while before I make my final decision. This is a habit you need to get into as well, stop before you think it is done because if you are looking for things to do you could over work it and ruin what you have.

Have something you want to work on in class in both Torrance and PV because I think we might finish up at PV in our next class, I will do demos to help you and the class on specific problems. See you in class.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spring 2012 Watercolor Class

Watercolor – Apple Turnover Week 2

Torrance class, I went back a step and did a demo using just one apple so you could see what these layers of value can do for your painting. It is easier to see just one apple than the whole lot of them but big or small the technique is the same: One wash at a time.

If you need to review the procedure, see last week's blog. PV students you may need to do that at this point.

In the Torrance class, I still had a couple of washes to put on to get my darkest darks before I started putting on color, I let it dry before I went ahead adding color.

I have what is called a "grass comb" brush that I used on the basket to create old wood texture. It is designed to split at the end which makes it great for fur, hair and dry brush, I used this brush to add the texture to the basket, however, if you don't have a comb brush you can use a fan or you can spread the bristles out on a flat, angle or round brush to get the same effect. A small bristle brush would work but if it has EVER been in oil pain DO NOT USE IT! Acrylic paint is water based so that would be okay but an oil brush will always have a bit of oil in it and it can ruin you painting.

Remember to use lighter colors in the sunny area and darker colors in the shadow areas just like you would normally do. Also notice that I have not started to add any detail like the slats or cracks to my bucket, that will come later.

The apples were basically just napthol red, it is the gray under painting that is giving them shading. The green apple was a mix of sap green and a touch of yellow. I lifted out highlights just to show how to do it, that could change as I work on this painting.

Take your time. Watercolor is not for the impatient. Let things dry before adding more layers. Think about what you are doing before you do it. Most of all, relax and have fun. This isn't rocket science you should be enjoying the journey.

We (I) may get this done next time, I'm not sure, just be looking for you next project because that is what you will be working on for the rest of the semester. See you all in class.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring 2012 Watercolor Class

Spring 2012 Watercolor – Apple Turnover

Before you start you will need to have the reference photo and the drawing, you will also need to have a good drawing on your paper before you start.

Torrance students I think I pushed you off in the deep end when I should have taken you into the shallows first so I will explain what I did at PV and what we are doing might make more sense. (See photo page)

This is a lot like the ink wash painting we did a couple of semesters ago except we will be using grays we make from our palette. I learned this technique from a man named Don Andrews and it is a very effective way to get more value in your paintings but it does take practice. I find that I will start many of my paintings this way or at least parts of my paintings depending on what I think it will need.

If you have different values of blue starting with cerulean, cobalt and ultra marine, plus have orange and burnt sienna on your palette, this will help. If you only have one or two blues you can still make this work, the end product will only be a little bit different. (See photo page)

The following instructions are the same for the practice apple as well as the project itself so I won't repeat the steps for the project but will give some suggestions for handling the brush when I'm done with the practice apple.

The first thing you need is a good drawing on your watercolor paper so you know where your highlights and shadows will be. On the practice apple I used lines to define the lightest to the darkest 1 being the brightest highlight and 5 being the darkest shadow. The light is coming from the upper left hand side so the basket and the apples will have their high lights on the upper left hand side. I know that sounds obvious but it is easy to loose track of your light source when you are blocking in your painting. Yes, this is coming out of my mind but if you have any doubts take an apple, find a single light source such as a window or a lamp (all other lights need to be out) and see for your self.

IF you feel more comfortable masking out your brightest highlights now is the time to do it before you start painting, I just painted around the lightest areas.

Keep in mind that watercolor is a transparent color, each layer you put down effects the next layer you put on top of it (when it is dry) so you can build your values and build the intensity of your color by doing layers of washes. You will want to start out with a light wash, if you have your value scale get it out and use it because you don't want your first wash any darker than the value next to your white, on a commercial one it would be the 10% or less.

I mixed a gray using my cerulean blue and a tiny touch of cad orange. The orange can easily over power the blue so if it looks too yellow or greenish add more blue, this should be a cool gray. Use a lot of water to make a light value and you will want to use a large brush like a wash brush or a 1" brush because this will go over EVERYTHING EXCEPT the lightest highlight whether it is on the practice apple or the project. Remember to paint around your highlights if you have not put masking on them but paint everything else, DO NOT paint around anything except the highlights. If you only have cobalt and Ultra marine or just Ultra marine don't worry, this will work just the same your grays will be a slightly different color (hue).

If you have done this right, you should barely see where the highlights are once the paint has dried. It may take a couple more washes of color before you start to see things appear. Be patient you will see things soon.

The next layer I used the same two colors in a slightly stronger mix. It is still light in value so add plenty or water, this time, not only will you avoid the highlights, but you will also avoid the NEXT LIGHEST VALUE. Look at your reference photo or apple before you start this wash, see for yourself what is the next lightest area if you have to mark them on your paper. Hint: the apples inside the basket are several values darker than the apples outside the basket because they are in shadow so you can paint over them but don't forget the highlight on the inside of the basket. Each of the apples will now have a light and dark side. On the practice apple, right around the highlight is the next lightest area and part of the leaf and stem. Everything else gets painted with this next wash of gray. See this first, don't just start painting.

This is how you will proceed with each wash of gray: Leaving the next lightest value but painting everything else. You will want to negative paint around the brighter grasses or where the grass comes up in front of apples so you don't have to lift later but continue to add gray values until you get to your darkest darks.

You will have to switch from cerulean blue to cobalt and cad orange if you are using all 3 blues after about the third wash again, if the gray looks too muddy or yellowish, add more blue. If you need to get an even darker gray switch to cobalt and burnt sienna then finally switch to ultra marine blue and burnt sienna with maybe a touch or purple as well for your very darkest darks.

Like everything else, this takes practice to see and to do but it can be a very good way for a lot of you to paint especially if you want to get more values into your painting, this is a good way to start if you try plein aire painting because of the changing light you need to capture your lights and darks right off the bat because they will change minute to minute, then you can add the color later once you have established your values. Take your time, ask questions if you have them and I will see you next time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring 2012 Watercolor

I finally managed to update the slide show so that it links to the picture page. The drawing and the reference photo are there for the class project. We probably won't start the class project for another week as we go over some basics this week. See you all in class.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winter 2012 Watercolor Class

Watercolor – Techniques for Texture

I love to do things that have texture and character like old wood and rusty things watercolor makes them with little effort if you just trust the watercolor.

Rust and peeling paint – Paint the color of the object you are going to add rust to, don't worry about painting around the areas because it doesn't matter, the rust will cover it up and it will actually help the final look o the object.

When the area is dry you will be using the following colors in a fairly liquid form: Orange, sienna, red and sienna with purple. Your paint should run a little bit the drips help. Have the top of your paper elevated so that gravity works for you and your paint doesn't pool up, this is just SOP with watercolor. Start with the orange in the area where you want rust. You can let it dry just a bit but it should still be dame between each color. Next add sienna and touches of red into the same area starting at the top and letting the color mix with what it all ready there. Again, you can let it dry a bit. With the sienna and purple, make a dark color, this is a shadow color and goes next to the area that is suppose to be peeling paint. If you have an angle brush or a flat brush, load it on the tip or corner and put the brush with the paint next to the area that is suppose to be paint and with the all the bristles in contact with the paper, paint in the shadow. If you use a round brush this will take two steps: first paint in the shadow then rinse and remove excess water and run the brush on the side of the paint you just put down that will be in the rusted area. You may have to do this again to get it dark enough.

To create the effect of the paint peeling up, lift a bit of color at the edges of some of the paint areas next to the rust, you can also add cracks using that dark mix and a liner brush.

Polished wood – Wood comes in all colors and patterns so do some research if you want a specific kind and color. I use the edge of my angle brush and make long "s" shapes (direction depends on the angle of the wood) just keep your strokes following the natural growth of the grain. Use more than one color and use colors you may not think about such as if it is a light wood it may have pinks and yellows, dark woods may have reds or blues or even green running through them. Let it dry and with a liner brush you can add darker grains and knots, just be sure that you follow the grain of the wood.

Old wood – Old wood can come in a variety of colors as well please find examples and keep them for reference. They are going to have a rougher surface because of weathering and they may have been just rough cut to begin with, I used shades of gray but I also added green and orange and blues for the under painting, same as above suing long "s" strokes following the grain and let it dry. When it was dry I use a darker version of the colors I used in the under painting but this time I used my angle brush in a dry brush technique with little paint and spreading the bristles at the end then wiggling the brush as I followed the grain of the wood. With a liner I added knots and cracks.

Tree Bark – Again, all trees are different have your reference handy. I used my small angle brush on its edge and made small choppy strokes down the branch of the tree using lighter colors in the sunny area getting darker into the shadowed side. On the branch that sticks out, I used short "coma" strokes because the branch is foreshortened.

Salt for texture – Salt can be use for all sorts of texture these were just three examples: Stucco, distant trees and rocks. Timing is everything with salt so you will need to practice to get it just the way you want but basically you put the paint down then wait until the shine of the water just starts to fade. If it is too wet the salt dissolves too fast and spreads out too much; too dry and it may not spread at all. It is a fun thing to use and does a lot of the work for you.

Remember to sign up for classes and bring things in for critique.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Winter 2012 Week 5

Watercolor – Waterfalls and Still Water Studies.

Torrance class: You will need to look at the blog from a couple weeks ago to get the recap of the lighthouse. We will be moving on to studies at our next classes and I would like you to find images of rocks to bring to class to have as reference and start looking for water because that will be next.

PV Class - Waterfalls: Waterfalls require you to practice up on your dry brush technique. Before you touch brush to paper it is important to make sure that you lightly squeeze the bristles near the metal ferrule to get out any excess water in your brush otherwise, your paint will come off too solid and not leave the white of the paper you need to get the look of falling water.

Practice this stroke by first dragging your brush across the paper horizontally then, without lifting your brush, go vertically. This simulates the water flowing along then finding a drop. The harder you press your brush to the paper, the more paint you will put down so keep your touch light for the full effect. This takes practice but you will need it when we get into wood grain.

Still Water – This is any water that is in a lake or ocean or pool that doesn't have a lot of movement, but even still water has slight ripples from breezes or drips or something making the water move, it also makes your water more natural looking if it has some variation in lights and shadows.

I use long "u" or "bow" shaped strokes to create still water. The longer and flatter the stroke is the calmer the water looks. I leave areas unpainted so the white of the paper becomes the highlights and I overlap and congest my strokes while trying to keep them mostly horizontal. I change color to make darker strokes but each time I am leaving some of the previous color to be highlights and various degrees of shadow. Again, this takes practice and most of you seem reluctant to overlap your strokes or congest them up but this is important to the look of your water. You should not have a series of dots and slashes you should have some solid areas of variegated color.

I would like to work on reflections in water and maybe start on some wood grain so I would like you to bring you own photos to work from. If you need to you can Google "water reflections" in the images tab and you will find more than you need. See you in class.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Winter 2012 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Winter 2012 Week 3

Torrance students the instructions for the project are the same as they were for the PV classes so please go back to the previous two entries for instruction. The only thing I did different was I made my sky a bit more colorful or more intense so that what we do next will show up better but everything else is the same.

PV Class, we worked on a couple of studies of rocks. I make up my own rocks usually because I have done them so often though I did borrow a rock picture for one of the studies. It is in your best interest to make up reference files of everything you want to paint. These files can be of photos you have take – these are the best in my opinion – or check out the travel sections of the paper, there are good images there or cut them out of magazines or collect postcards on your trips, all of these things can be used as reference material when you are trying to figure out how to draw or paint something. If you have time to sketch, those sketches are also great references just keep a camera handy and take lots of photos. I have started a reference photo page for common things like rocks, waves, leaves etc and will update it when I find another good reference for you, you can find the link to it here or in the side bar under the Lerri's links section.

Rocks are painted like everything else starting from light going to dark so I'm not going to go through the basics here, the problem most of you have with rocks is you are human. It is in our nature to line things up and organize things, well, rocks are far from organized unless a human has been involved.

Whether you are painting rocks on the beach, sharp desert rocks or smooth river rocks each rock has its own shape. They are bigger or smaller than their neighbors, different colors, some have chips and cracks, some are flat, some are round…the more you look at rocks the more you will see and the only way you are going to get better at painting rocks is to study them and paint studies of them.

Start with the above mentioned reference photos. Make a folder either a real folder or one in your computer for just rocks and when you find rocks take photos or cut out the image and save it. If you have rocks in your yard, sit outside and sketch them. Look at how the light hits them at various times of day. Collect them if you can. I have small rocks all over the house and in my planters, rocks come home with me. You can use these rocks in set up or use the photos you've collected then DRAW the rocks. Try to find as much detail as you can.

Once you have your drawing, get it on your paper and paint what you see. These don't need to be big drawings or paintings, you can get some of those watercolor cards at the store and paint on them for practice, then send them to friends, it is the practice you are going for.

If all your rocks look like turtles or loaves of bread, you need to get more reference material. We can do these studies every class but unless you practice these at home, you will always have turtles or bread.

I will be doing waves and water next class so try to find photos for class. There are some on that link but just like the rocks, you need to start finding your own, even if you Google waves and get them off the Internet, it is a start. See you all in class.