Friday, July 26, 2013


Watercolor Project: Moonlight Fishing
Week 4

(PV students you will need to read last week’s blog to review what we did in class this week)

This week we added the pier and I want to reiterate that it doesn’t have to be the Redondo Pier or a pier at all or anything at all plus it does not have to look exactly like the photo, I just used the photo as a guide and put the pier in free hand, it does not need to be perfect and it might actually look more artistic if it isn’t perfect. Probably the most important thing is to be sure that you get enough pylons under your pier so it looks safe to walk out on so with those words of caution go ahead and draw on your pier or whatever you have in your painting.
Finished Torrance version

The pier is basically in silhouette so you need to mix a dark color with your indigo, sienna (burnt umber if you have it) and a touch of purple, if you have Payne’s grey you can add that as well, you want a very dark color. Be careful when you make dark colors that you add enough water that your paint still flows free, if it gets pasty and you put it on your paper, it can look strange, even shiny, if you have to go over it again it is better than putting it on too thick. Be careful of the perspective as well if the end of your pier is too small, it will look like it is a mile long if that is the case, make the pylons longer (I think I have to do that with mine). As the pylons come forward they will get thicker and a little further apart and while most of them are almost straight up and down some do angle in a bit, don’t forget the cross pieces and miscellaneous “stuff” that is under the pier, those are just shapes they don’t have to be anything in particular but  they are important.

I put that closer restaurant with the glass windows in my foreground to make it look like reflections I took just water on my brush and blurred out the background water before painting the trim of the windows in.

For the buildings and the areas where there is light from the light poles that are on the pier I lifted the areas first, I added a little bit of yellow where I wanted the light to shine but left the buildings as they were after I lifted color.

When the areas were dry I added some windows and doors and light posts along with railings and the suggestions of people on the pier. Do not try to make it look like people they are way too small. They are just “suggestions” of people mostly stick figures or dots and lines and that is it. Remember to remove the masking from your stars don’t over work this it is too dark to see much detail and you are done.

Torrance class be sure to have something you want to paint with you in class, PV we will be working on the project for at least this next week. See you all soon.
PV class week 2
PV wave demo

PV sand and foam demo

PV wet into wet foam demo

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Watercolor ClassesSummer 2013 
 Project: Moonlight Fishing 
Week 3

(PV Students you will have to look at last week’s blog to review what we did in class but it is good to go over this blog so you know what we will be doing in our own class).

In our last class, I went over how to paint waves, it is much easier to show you how to paint wave than it is to explain it here so I found a visual aid:
Duct tubing as a model

A wave is like this tube with a slice out of it. You see both the inside “face” of the wave and the back side of the wave as it breaks over the face. I took a piece of duct tubing and cut  part of it to illustrate a breaking wave, the red representing the face or inside of the wave/tube and the green the breaking part of the wave as the back side of the wave falls over the front. If you have a piece of duct tubing you might want to look at it the coils in it make a great visual to see a close representation of the action of the water. That combined with watching actual wave breaking will give you a better understanding of the dynamics that are going on in a wave.

The other parts of a wave that also show are the eye or transparency and the base. If you look close you will see that it is much lighter at the top of the wave than it is at the bottom because of the light behind and thickness of the water at the base. As the water peaks it becomes thinner and thinner allowing more light to come through until it becomes so thin it can’t support its weight and falls over. All of this is what we as artists are trying to represent on our canvases when we are painting, it is a lot simpler to do than it is to explain here but put simply a wave is darker at the bottom than it is at the top.

I wet the area of the wave I wanted to paint first with just clear water, painting the water around the areas where the foam will be, if it is easier, you can turn your paper upside down and let gravity help you. I start at the base of the wave with my dark cool colors like my indigo, ultramarine, purple and Hooker’s and at the base I start out with flat strokes as I go up the face of the  wave I start to curve my strokes to match the curve on the inside of the wave (red lines on my tube). As I go up the wave I use less paint moving what I have with water on my brush. You should have what is called a graded wash when you are done starting with the dark and ending in a medium light blue color and a very light blue where the eye is just under the foam.

I did the breaking part of the wave in a similar manner but note that the curve of my stroke is going in the opposite direction (green lines on my tube). This is important to get the illusion of shape visually correct.
When the water part of the wave is dry, wet the area where your foam will be then look on your palette for a light blue or blue/grey color in the mixing area. Too often you want to mix all your colors when you already have what you need right there on your palette (the advantages of a dirty palette). If you don’t have this color or have cleaned your palette, what you want is a very thin (light) color, you can get this by using ultramarine blue with a tiny touch or purple and sienna so you have a light, cool grey. Starting at the bottom of the foam, you will tap the color in and let the water on your paper do the work. This may take several layers but always start at the bottom which is the furthest away from the light and work your way up leaving some of the very top of the foam that light blue from the original wash. That light blue first wash becomes your brightest highlights for the foam. Let this layer dry, then repeat the process always starting at the bottom and working your way up, leaving some of the previous value showing. You might want to practice on another piece of paper so you understand what the water on your paper is doing, it should look like a soft mottled grey when you are done.

Next we started creating the glow around the moon, you will need to have a clean, dry paper towel handy because we will be doing a lot of lifting. I used my ½” shader but you want a brush that will hold its shape pretty good, a round brush may not work here. You will only be using a damp brush for this no color so be sure that your brush is clean before you start.

With my damp brush I wet the area just above the rim of the moon and pulled in towards the moon. These will be like very close to over-lapping together spokes radiating out from the moon. Go over the area a couple times with your damp brush, let it sit for a few seconds, then with your paper towel, blot the area. If you have used too much purple you may not be able to lift because it is a staining color, there isn’t much of an easy remedy for this except for and opaque color or starting over and being sure you use more indigo than purple.
Continue around the rim of the moon repeating wetting and lifting until you have as large a ring of “glow” as you want around the moon. You can also use the lifting to lift out some soft highlights in your clouds. Be sure not to go over any area too long or scrub and area because you can damage the paper and that will cause a lot of problems. Let it dry first to see what it actually looks like if you think it still needs to be lifted, you can do it again just let the paper recover and harden by drying between times. When your sky is dry, you can remove the mask on the stars if you want.

We will be getting into the final stages of this painting so you can put your pier or whatever you decided to put in before class so you are ready to go and we should be at least basing in the pier this class and finishing up the following week (PV you are a week behind so don’t worry about your drawing yet). See you all in class.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Watercolor Class Project: Moonlight Fishing
Week 2

(PV class you will need to go down to the previous blog entry to see what we did last week and what we will be doing this week though it will be good to read this entry as well because we will probably get caught up with Torrance or close to it when next we meet.)

Many of you were adding more value to your sky and water so most of what we did was to get the waves started and added some detail to the moon. Waves can be very challenging and I am going to be doing another demo in our next class that will be exclusively on breaking waves so if you are having problems with your waves you might want to wait until next class to start them. Getting your sky and water dark enough when they need to be dark is more important at the point.
We worked on the waves and added a "face" to the moon.
The moon is very simple so don’t try to make it more than it is. You already have the color on your palette, just some of the light blue you have been using an a lot of water, it should be just a little bit darker that the moon itself. First, lightly wet your moon (should not be dripping) with clear water, while it is wet, take that light blue on your palette and just touch the surface of the moon and let the paper take what it wants and just suggest the craters of the moon, the water and paint will do most of the work. Done!

Basically a wave is a graded wash: Dark at the bottom and lighter at the top. This has to do with a couple of things like the depth and thickness of the water at the base, the thinness of the water just before it breaks and the light source. We know where the light source is in this picture and we know that the light of the moon is cool, what that translates to is the color we will use, mostly our blue with touches of purple and the occasional touch of Hooker’s green. This is for the water right now, not the foam, that will be later.
Note the change of value from top to bottom of the wave.
Right where the wave is breaking it has what is called its “eye” the water is very thin at this point and light will shine through it. As you go down the wave, the wave becomes more dense and thicker with water so less light can penetrate to get through so it gets darker in color. You might find it easier to wet the area of the wave with the light color which is just a touch of the cobalt with a lot of water the start at the bottom with your darker color while the area is still wet and drag color up the wave leaving that lightest color just under the breaking foam and along the top. Another thing to keep in mind it that wave is curving as it breaks so be sure that your brush strokes curve with the wave in the wave, the rest of the water needs to stay flat. I hope the demo will help clear this up because it is very hard to write about it.

You will probably want to let the wave dry before you do your foam though blooms can be very creative, just a work of caution.

You probably already have the color you need for your foam on your palette it will be the cool blues or purple grays and you want to find an area where there is very little color. This is a much easier way to work when you only need little amounts of color and you have a dirty palette. If you need to mix, it will be a little bit of cobalt or ultramarine blue and a tiny touch of purple and a lot of water.

This will be similar to what you just did on the moon to suggest craters, though this time we will get a little bit darker in some areas, first wet the foam area, you are going to need the water to help soften this color, do it in sections if you have to so the paper doesn’t dry. Start at the bottom of the foam area and dab the color on. Think about what the foam is, it is turbulence in the water, bubbling and boiling, violently moving so you want to suggest this movement with your color. Most of the foam will be covered with color except for the very top edges where it might catch a bit of light from the moon. You may want to go over some areas so they are a bit darker, just don’t go over everything you want that variation in value to show movement and texture in the foam.

Like I said, I will be doing a demo on the water and waves because this can be a bit confusing. I do suggest that you go down to the beach and take picture of the waves or go on the internet and Google breaking waves to you can see what I am talking about, it makes you a better artist if you can figure out the whys and the wherefores rather than relying on your teacher because there are times when words just aren’t enough, you need the visuals to really understand.

See you in class.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Watercolor Class Summer 2013

 The purpose of this painting is twofold: One is to learn to paint a night sky with a moon and stars over water, the second is to show you how to take a daytime setting and change it into a nighttime setting just by using a bit of imagination. This could be almost anything from a mountain scene by a lake or a cityscape like the harbor scenes from NY and buildings reflected down into the water, this can be anything you want, even a different pier or lighthouse, it is up to you if you want to do something different though I do suggest that you find some reference material for whatever scene you choose to do.
Line drawing for class project.

Reference photo for class.
If you want to do a complex drawing before you start, be sure to use at least a #4B pencil so you will be able to see your drawing when we get to the pier, mostly what you will need is a horizon line and a moon to start. Again, you can decide how big you want your moon, I made mine a bit smaller that my test study because it didn’t look like earth’s moon, however, if you like a big moon, be my guest, it is your painting. To get a nice round shape, you can use a compass or bottle cap or just about any round object that is the size you want please make sure you have a round moon, I did see a couple egg shaped ones and one that looked like a pear, not really of this Earth, ours is round.

Another thing that you will need to do before you start painting is to get out your masking fluid and add a few stars to your sky. Don’t get too carried away with stars, just a few will be good again, we are still here on Earth and with a moon bright in the sky not too many stars will be visible, just a flick or two of your toothbrush and call it good. Remember, if you get spots of masking fluid where you don’t want it or if you get some big blobs wait until it sets up then just rub them off don’t try to fix it while it is wet or you will create problems for yourself, it is designed to peel off so don’t panic use it to your advantage. Wait until the masking is completely dry before you start to paint.

Please read this carefully: The stars are the only white things in this painting. Repeat: The stars are the only white things in this painting. Everything else gets toned down. Night is a totally different animal from daylight, even with a bright moon in the sky the light from the moon is reflected light and isn’t as bright as the sun, it also isn’t as warm visually as the sun, its light is much cooler so even bright areas are going to be cooler (bluer) and that includes the moon, the sea foam and any other highlights.

Once your masking fluid has dried and you have removed any unwanted spots of masking (that includes any you have put on the moon), on your palette mix a tiny amount of your cobalt blue (this is a new color for most of you) so you have a very pale blue color, then wet you whole paper either with your spray bottle or with your biggest brush keep using your big brush and while your paper is wet, cover EVERYTHING with the light cobalt and water mix. Do not paint around anything! Not the moon, not the wave foam not the light track NOTHING! At this stage EVERYTHING get a coat of paint. If it looks too blue on your paper, just pick up some water and thin it out on your paper. No need to wipe it off and remember that watercolor dries lighter as long as it is a light blue, you will be okay. Your paper should be completely this pale blue color with the masking when you are done. Let it dry.

Your paper should be dry to the touch and you may need to reinforce your moon and horizon lines at this point. Still using your big brush and now your indigo blue, ultra marine blue and a touch of purple, start at the top and start painting your sky. Have your brush wet enough that the paint comes off evenly and if you want you can rewet the sky area however, you don’t want to use so much water that you dilute the color. You may have to repeat this process a couple times to get it dark enough (I did this at home). If you have a value scale the top of your sky is going to be between a 9 and a 10, 10 being the darkest down towards the horizon it should be about an 8. If you don’t have a value scale, what you are looking for is a very dark midnight blue color where the stars are and a slightly lighter color near the water. If the sky is still damp you can lightly lift out some clouds with a clean paper towel (crumple it up), just lightly blot the surface where you want the clouds. Remember this is nighttime, clouds are just going to be a suggestion.
Where I left off in class.
Before you start painting the water you might want to reestablish the drawing for the waves and foam because you will need to paint around these areas and also draw a light path starting at the moon the width of the moon, widening it as you come forward so it is about 2 moons wide at the shore, you will need to know where these are so it is best to draw them in. You can use a smaller flat, angle or round brush for this next step, I was using my ½” angle brush but any brush you feel comfortable with will work. What you will be doing is long, flat, overlapping slightly curved shaped strokes so use a brush you will be comfortable using. I will tell you now, it will take more than one layer of paint to get the desired results.

Starting with a light mix of cobalt blue and Hooker’s green make long overlapping strokes of color in your water area, don’t worry about where the pier is for now, just paint over it you won’t hurt anything (see my painting), the places you will want to avoid are the waves and sea foam and the light track in the water. Just be aware when you are avoiding these areas, that they have their own shape and you will be doing what is called “negative painting” because you will be painting the shape of the area around these areas. The light track from the moon is not straight, as the waves roll in they break up the edges of the light track, some of the waves may actually cross the light track causing a shadow (again, look at my painting), to get the “shimmer” for the water you need to create an uneven edge to the light track, we will refine it later. This layer of color can almost be solid but still use the long flat strokes because as you reload with paint, you will make streaks and that is a good thing. If you have to remix and it is not the same color that is a good thing as well, it will make you water look more natural plus you will be putting more layers on top of it. Let your water dry in between layers of color and each time you add a layer of color, you will be leaving a bit of the previous color showing. (Check my painting to see how many different values of color I have in my water).

Each layer will be a bit darker than the previous which means less water, more paint and you will change the colors you use. Do at least another layer of the cobalt and green but a bit stronger in color (less water), then switch to ultramarine blue and Hooker’s green and finally add to that some indigo, and purple in the darkest areas which will be to the far sides of the water, areas that will be furthest from the light source, i.e. the moon. This take practice just keep referring to my painting and try to get as close to it as you can, water can be a challenge.
At home I added more color to both sky and water to
darken both.
Last thing we did was add a face to the moon. First off wet the moon with water, then with a small brush – I was using my ¼” angle brush – look on your palette for a very light blue color. You don’t have to mix color, just find a light color on your palette add a little water so it will flow off your brush then lightly touch the wet moon. Think about how the moon looks with its craters and such, it doesn’t take much to suggest texture on the moon.

Next week you might want to have your pier or whatever you are going to paint sketched on your paper, we should finish this up in a week or two so start looking for something you want to paint, we will work on specific studies after this project so if you are having problems with something let me know, others may also need a demo on the subject. See you all soon.