Friday, October 18, 2013

Watercolor Project: Water Lily Week 4

Torrance class the information regarding the negative painting of the flower petals is near the end of last week’s blog because I started the process at PV the previous week, so look there for reference.

Theyellow center area is probably the trickiest because there is a combination of grayish shadows on some of it and a reddish orange on the rest, this is where really looking at the photo is going to be important because I simply cannot do more than give you general areas here, please have you photos out and look at them often BEFORE you start this process.

The gray color is going to be yellow with a touch of purple and a lot of water. It should look gray and not purple and on a value scale of 1 – 10, 1 being white, this should be no more than a 2. This color goes on the yellow stamens/pistils that are in the back also there is a bit in the center and along the front behind the petal. The orange color is orange with a touch of red and it goes in between some of the front structures. Be sure to check the angles and shapes before you start putting on color. There are also some dark parts that seem to be on the sides of some of these structures, I just took my small angle brush and put some dark color from my palette and just touched the full edge of the brush to form a line. When in doubt, practice it first.

There are a couple of the petals that have some green stripes on them, this is very easy if you slightly wet the petal first – you want it damp not dripping – and either with a liner or the edges of a flat/angle brush, draw the lines in with sap green but be sure you follow the couture of the petal, they are not flat, they are curved. As the green mingles with the dampness of the paper it will slightly fuss out, if it disappears altogether, your paper was too wet, if it doesn’t fuzz out at all your paper was too dry. Again practice it first. This is the same thing I did to add the pink tips to some of the petals, I wet the tip and down a bit on the petal the just put color at the tip and let it spread down through the damp paper, guiding it sometimes with a damp brush with just water.

(From here on is what we did different at PV and what we will be doing at Torrance next class.)

The petal that goes under water also has a bit of a shadow falling across the middle of it but the lower part is going to need a light wash of blue. If you have a blue on the mixing part of your palette just add some water and lightly go over the bottom of the petal or use a tiny amount of a color similar to you water, you just want to tint the petal. If you did what I did at PV and painted too heavy over the petal and need to lift some color off to shape the petal that is under the water, just use the color you are lifting in one area and tint the other area with what is on your brush.

The shadows under the flower are very dark but you can see a bit of detail in them. Do not worry about that detail at this point it will look better if you go in later and lift out a bit of color than to worry about it as you are trying to paint the shadow in.

I started my shadows with just a mix of blue and purple, keeping it on the blue side. To be honest, once I got it home and could see it in better light, I am not completely happy with it so I will be tweaking it in our next class. I think I need some green and some sienna to gray up the color a bit and I do need it darker right under the flower, it isn’t dark enough.

I free-handed my shadow, if you need to draw it in that is okay too but when you are lifting out detail also take a damp brush and go across the edges of the shadow horizontally to soften the edges just a bit, then finish up anything you may have missed.

The PV class should be done with this project and students should be bringing in something that they want to paint for class. Torrance students we will probably finish up the project at our next class and you might want to start looking for your own projects as well. I will see you all in class.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


After removing the masking fluid, the first thing we did was to under paint the lily pads. Contrary to what you might think, the under painting for the leaves is not pink or brown, it is green. When you are planning your painting, you look for the lightest colors to paint first and in this case it is the light green you see in the pads. The light green is a mix of cad yellow light with a touch of sap green and I painted over all of the bigger leaves the two yellow leaves have a bit more yellow in them. This will have to dry before you can start the next phase of the pads but while you are waiting you can paint in the center of the lily.
Front pad color is the under
 painting for the lily pad.
The center of the lily is made up of a lot of spiky stamens and pistils and some of them have white tips, remember this so you paint around some of the ends. I used cad yellow light and water to paint this area, leaving some of the ends unpainted. While it was still wet, I took a thin mix of orange and water and right at the base of the yellow in front I touched this area with the orange to make it a bit darker, it will now have to dry.

If there is one thing I wish I could get my students to do that would help them immensely and that is to be more observant. Many of you don’t even have your photos out let alone look at the to see what I am talking about, unless you can see what I am talking about it won’t matter what I say, you will still be confused so learn to study your subject BEFORE you start to paint whether it is the photo you are working from or when you are out and about, learn to SEE what you are looking at. Break down the shapes of light and shadow, color and form, if you have your camera or phone with camera take more than one photo. Do overall photos of the subject then take detail photos for reference later, the smallest thing can make a big difference in your painting but you need to see it and understand it, sketch it or do small studies of the parts, whatever it take for you to get the job done, it will make you a better painter in the long run. That said, look at your photo before you start this next part.

There are a couple of things I want you to notice, the first being that while, from above, these pads may be almost round, we are looking at them from the side so they become ellipses (flat ovals). The other thing I want you to notice is the edges of the pads have ridges and dips in
them, these ridges go back to a central vein however, they come back at an angle they do not come back straight. The further away from that “sail” structure in the back the more angled the ridges become. If you make those ridges too straight in to the vein, your pad will look like it is standing on its edge. If you need to visually see this before you start painting you can do either a pencil sketch or a small study so you know what you need to do when you get to your painting.

The bronze color for the pads is a mix of burnt sienna and purple, keeping it to the sienna side. To make it darker use less water, to make it lighter add more water, simple as that but many of you struggle with this. Looking at the reference photo, see where the brown areas are don’t be afraid to use water to soften one color into the other because that is what is happening on the pads naturally. The darker colors will be where there are dips and veins, the down sides of ridges but you need to look to see them. You can also add in greens if you need to and you need to figure this out because there is no real formula other than what I have stated here. All the answers are in the photo, you just need to look for them.

The “sail” structure on the back of the pad is in shadow so both the bronze color and the green will be darker than on the flat of the pads themselves.

Once you are done with your pads, now you need to work on the water. In a few places the water actually comes up on the pads and this is where lifting will work its magic. Locate these areas on your lily pads, sketch them in again if you need to but before you start painting, really
LOOK at the photo so you can see the why and the how of these areas. You will see dark shadows under the lip of the water and you will see highlights along the edges of the water but note that neither of these is a constant line around the pad, they are broken and different sizes and in some places you can see through them. Please see these before you start and again, if you need to do a pencil sketch or small studies before you start on your painting.

The shadow color is blue with a touch of purple, if you need it dark use less water, more water to lighten it either on your palette or, better, on your brush to soften edges. There are also dark areas under the front edges of the pads and where the “sail” is. To lift out the highlights, just use plain water, wet the area with your brush, lift a little with your brush but do not scrub the area, then pat it with a clean part of your paper towel. Make them different sizes and lengths, keep looking at the photo.

Torrance students this next part we did not get to in class the last time but we will cover it when we meet again so don’t panic, you will see a demo on this.

PV students we did get started on the flower and this is where the negative painting study we did at the start of class comes into effect. To get the light areas to stand out you need to negative paint around them. The other thing to keep in mind is this is a white flower so most of our shading it going to be on the light side you don’t want to get too dark with a couple exceptions that I will cover and no, we have not done the shadows under the flower – yet.

If you keep a dirty palette like I do you may not have to mix a color for the shading of the lily, one of the reasons I do keep a dirty palette is I have colors I have been using and if I need just a little bit of color it is already on my palette but if you are neat and need to mix again the color is going to be mostly blue with tiny touches of purple maybe even a tiny amount of sienna, you want a light blue/gray color.

The darkest area of each petal is going to be near its base as it goes behind other petals or the center area, it will lighten as it comes to the outside edges of the petal so start at the bottom with your color, paint up a bit then rinse your brush and with just the water move the color up the petal. You may need to add a bit more color but start at the bottom and work up. Skip petals so you are not painting next to a wet petal and work around your flower. Look at thephoto to see what you are doing we will continue this in our next class.

This should get you caught up on 2 weeks’ worth of blogs. See you in class.