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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Winter 2012 Watercolor Classes

Watercolor Week 2 – Foggy Point Vencente

We are now up to the fog and this step was a combination of adding color and lifting color depending on the area and the need. Take your time and keep a paper towel handy as you work.

I wanted a line of fog behind the point of land with the lighthouse that went along the horizon and continued past the lighthouse almost to the edge of the paper. However, when it got into a darker sky area near the edge it went from adding color to lifting color so keep that in mind as you paint.

I mixed a gray color with my blue, a touch or purple and orange. Usually I use burnt sienna but the orange seemed to work better for me this time, a word of warning a little orange goes a long way so if it gets too orange, add more blue, you want a nice cool gray.

I applied this at the horizon area and just a bit lower using quick circular strokes, these are basically clouds I'm painting so I want my strokes to mimic the bubbling and boiling of the clouds. I was also rinsing my brush and with just water, softening some of the areas at the top of the fog and also all along the bottom of the bank of fog so I didn't have any hard lines. I also occasionally dabbed with my paper towel to lift a bit of color. I repeated this process behind the cliffs until I got into some darker sky, then I switched to just water on my brush, using the same stroke to lift some of the existing paint, then pressing my towel to the paper to lift the rest of the color.

I also lifted color along the bottom of the distant cliff, the rock in the water and the area between the closer cliff and foreground, sometimes I added color to a lifted area while it was still wet, other times I just left the faint hint of what was behind there so it looked like thin areas of the fog. Another word of caution as you try to lift the color off, don't work in one area too long because if you keep trying to lift color the paper gets too wet and you run the risk of damaging your paper, it is best to work around you paper when lifting letting the paper dry a bit before going back into to lift more.

The weeds in the foreground are just there, I didn't want them to draw attention away from the lighthouse so I kept them in muted grays so they looked like the fog had come up over the cliff making them almost like ghost shapes. I did lift out a rock in the corner but that was just to show how, it isn't necessary.

Using my small angle brush I lifted out the shape of the lighthouse before putting in the trees. Don't make it too big because it is far away and don't do too much detail on it for the same reason. There are some other buildings that you can just lift out some shapes to suggest they are there, the viewer can fill in the rest.

One thing you want to make sure that you have before lifting the lighthouse, is that the area behind it is dark enough because you need the contrast so the lighthouse will show up against the darker fog bank. I didn't get my quite dark enough on the one I did at PV so I need to remember that when I'm working at Torrance, my fog could have been a shade or two darker and it may have been but just went down the page because I have to work upright.

With your liner brush you can add in the palm trees and some of the bushes around the lighthouse if the area behind it is dry. This is a gray/green color so you can add a touch of Hooker's green into any of the gray you have on your palette to get the color. These are just shapes, these trees are too far away to see any detail and they are planted so close together their parts run into each other, so just make a series of marks to indicate "palm trees" and don't over think it.

I am going to be doing some studies on various things like rocks and waves maybe some bark, if you have watercolor cards, this is a good way to practice, if not, have paper with you so you can do several, I will look for reference photos but you can also find reference photos to work from. See you in class. end#

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Watercolor Class Winter 2012 Week 1 – Foggy Coast

Torrance students you will be a couple of weeks behind PV so use the older blogs to see what we did in class. It will be very similar.

PV class, I started by getting my drawing on my paper first. Because there is water in this painting be sure that you get the horizon straight or your ocean will look tilted. You don't need to do all the detail on the top of Pt Vencente for now, just indicate where the two bluffs are and the little pile of rocks, that is really all you need.

Once your drawing is on wet the entire paper. You can use your sprayer or a big wash or haki brush or both you want to get the paper wet so it stays wet for this process. Keep the top of you paper elevated an inch or two so the paint doesn't pool up, you want it to move a bit.

Starting at the horizon with cad yellow and a lot of water, paint all the way across the paper at the horizon line. Don't worry about the drawing at this point, it really doesn't matter. Do be sure to dilute the color down and get this color in both the sky and water areas.

Next, use your cad orange on either side of the yellow while you paper is still wet. Start just above or below the yellow depending on if you are in the sky or water and let the color find its way to the yellow. You may need to encourage it a little but this is why the paper should be wet so the paint can do its own thing.

You need to work quickly so don't fuss with this step, just put the paint down and move on to the next color which is your napthol red or alizarin crimson. Again this color goes into the sky and the water but it shouldn't be to intense so add water before going to your paper.

The next color is a mix of ultra marine blue and a TOUCH of purple. I saw a lot of students with purple skies while it isn't life or death the problem with the purple is it is hard to lift when it dries and we will be doing some lifting throughout this painting so just a touch of purple and again, keep the color pale and this goes in the water and sky but this time, in the sky, start at the top of the paper and let the paint flow down into the other colors, it will give you a natural gradient to the color. Now, let it dry completely.

This kind of painting works better if you let it dry naturally rather than taking a blow dryer to it so resist the urge to hasten the process. If your paper was wet enough, these colors with continue to move and blend for several minutes giving you smooth blends and interesting colors, if you try to force the blends and then drying it you can end up with mud and hard lines, just let the watercolor do its thing for a few minutes before halting the process with a dryer.

This is your under painting and it should cover your entire paper, the water should be a reflection of the sky colors. I did not paint around anything so I will have no pure white on my paper, things will look white by comparison so I'm not worried. Watercolor dries lighter so if you kept your colors pale, this step should have pale colors as well.

When it is completely dry, I want to start back up in the sky with an intense blue color. This time I used the same ultra marine blue and purple but I didn't use as much water. If you want to make your watercolors more intense (darker, more colorful) use less water, if you want to make them light and less intense, use more water. I know it sounds simple and logical but many of my students struggle with this, amounts of how much water to use can be mystifying, just remember if it dries too light you can always add more washes. It is better to have to add color rather that try to lighten a color so error on the side of too light. In this case, you can be pretty dark so add enough water so the color will flow off your brush.

I hope that you are all able to down load and print out a copy of the reference photo, my printer was out of ink last week so I wasn't able to print off copies for class, I was using the photo for reference for the upper part of the sky, I liked the way the clouds were breaking up and it is something you will see when fog rolls in and out.

I do want to point out that your brush is a tool to create many different kinds of looks and textures. Many of you just use it one way in long sweeping strokes, which is fine for some things but not all. When I was making these clouds I wasn't just applying color, I was trying to create a texture around my clouds so I was mostly dabbing around the edges alternating between adding color and water to move it around. The clouds were done using a negative painting technique, I was painting around the clouds with the dark sky color that is behind them. I just laid down a small area of the color, then I rinsed my brush and with a damp brush with just water. I went back into the edges of the clouds, dabbing and moving the color, even lifting (removing) color in some places, then painted another dark area around the clouds to repeat the process until I had my clouds the way I wanted them.

Basically, I was working wet into wet because I could get the desired look that I wanted, this can cause blooms as wet paint or water moves into a drying area, but this really works when you are doing clouds, learn to use these tendencies of watercolor to your advantage because it is one of the beauties of the medium.

Once I had my upper sky the way I wanted it I added color to the cliffs starting with the furthest with the lighthouse. Again, I was dabbing but I was angling my brush diagonally so that the brush marks were going in the direction of the erosion of the cliffs. I used several colors including burnt sienna, orange, grayed greens (hookers with a touch of purple) and touches of some of that sky mix to suggest shadows. I was working wet on dry but as I painted, it became more wet into wet, this creates texture.

In the water I used a dilute mix or UM blue and water, then with the flat edge of my brush I created a series of horizontal lines some closer together as they got closer to the shore but I did want to leave some of the under painting for the highlights (see photo page).

This is where we stopped, I will probably finish this up in the next class putting in the fog and finishing the cliffs and foreground. Think about something you would like me to demonstrate, I am open to suggestions. See you in class.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Watercolor Class 2012

Hi Everyone

I hope that you all had a great holiday vacation, it is now time to get back to work.

I am going to show you how to create different moods using a reference photo. All the fog we had lately got me to thinking about how interesting fog can make a painting but it is kinda hard to photograph because everything has to come together at the right time and place and I just don't have that kind of time. However, I am an artist and I should be able to use what I know and apply it to the scene I want.

I am using a photo I took of the light house at Pt. Vencente looking north and I've made a simple drawing both on the picture page but if you would like to do something of your own feel free to do so.

I'm getting antsy for class to start, I like my time off but I love my classes. See you all soon.