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.

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