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.

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