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.

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