Saturday, April 26, 2014


Watercolor Project: From My Garden
Week 3

I am hoping that all of you have the background in and the first light washes on your veggies, in the last class we worked on increasing the intensity of the color (the brightness or depth of a color) and to establish the shadow areas of by increasing their values (lightness or darkness of an area). Shadows create form and some of these vegetables have bumps or ribs on them that will have darker areas at the bottom of the bumps and lighter at the top. This is just another layer of wash and not the finishing touches, that may come next week, for now, try to keep your whole painting at the same level by working around your painting and NOT finishing as you go.

Again, I don’t have the time to go for a stroke by stroke narrative of each element of this project, basically the technique is the same throughout, you just need to change color depending on what you are working on or if it is light or dark. All of the veggies have a base color such as orange or yellow or green, this will be where you start with your color and to that you will add color to darken and slightly gray the colors for now, like I said, this is not the finished painting, we still have some work to do to establish our values.

To gray a color or to create a shadow or form shadow color, you will need to add a form of the colors complimentary color. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the color wheel there are 3 primary colors: Blue, yellow and red and they are on the thirds of the wheel. If you mix equal
parts midway between each of the primary colors you get secondary colors: Green, orange and purple. Green is between blue and yellow, orange is between red and yellow and purple is between blue and red, these secondary colors are directly across from a primary color: Red – Green, Blue – Orange, Yellow – Purple. This is the simple version, there are whole courses on color and color theory and volumes of books if you want to know more, but for our purposes this is what you need to remember. So when I say to create a shadow color or a grayed color, what I mean is to add its compliment or some form of its compliment.

Most of you don’t have any trouble mixing mud, it is very easy to do your color just needs to have all 3 primary colors present and they cancel each other out creating a muddy gray color, usually not the color we want. The way to create a softer grayer color is to start out with the color you want – say green – to gray the color you will need to add red or something with red in it like sienna or purple, depending on what you need. The red or sienna, which is in the orange family, or orange these will gray the color but not change its value too much (values is the lightness or darkness of a color), purple will not only change the color but can change the value to a darker form of green. Conversely, if you are working with red, you will add some form of green to gray the color.

The key to color mixing, especially when you are learning, is to sneak up on the color you want. Some colors like sienna, purple, pthalo blue or pthalo green are very potent colors and little amounts go a very long way, for instance if you were trying to add purple to gray the yellow for the zucchini you would NOT want to mix them in equal amounts or you would get a grayed purple, even 10 yellow to 1 purple may be too much but it is a much better place to start than 1:1.
You may also want to build up layers of color the create the intensity of the color and the values, trying to go from “a” right to “z” can create more of a problem than adding a few more steps. Watercolor needs patience especially when you are learning, as you build on your skills and knowledge, working faster will come automatically because you will know just how much you can do without causing yourself more problems. Be patient.

I did increase the values in my background by starting in the corners with a darker version of the color that was there and adding water as I got closer to the area of light and at PV I did start adding in some of my shadows and started working on the wood table both which I will show Torrance on Monday. Get your painting as far along as you can and I will see you next class.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring 2014 Watercolor class

Watercolor Class Project – From My Garden
Week 2
Previous week Torrance
In our last class we filled in the colors of the veggies by intensifying the colors. It is always a good practice to not finish as you go because what can happen is you will overwork one area and not work another enough then your painting looks unbalanced. Work in, around and through you painting at each stage to keep it all at the same level and you stand a better chance of not overworking areas.

Keep in mind that in watercolor we work from light to dark, so at this stage of the game we are just bring up our values (our darks) and intensifying our colors. Watercolor always dries a bit lighter so it usually takes several washes of color to get the intensity you want, be patient with the process.

The colors will be more or less the same as before but this time you need to be aware of the light and dark area of each shape, I showed how to put down someintense color, then rinse you brush and use the damp brush to move the paint up to the light area. This will create a graded color that is dark where it needs to be dark and lighter where it needs to be lighter.

You can also create a shadow color by adding a form of the colors compliment: green/red; yellow/purple; blue/orange. Just be very cautious when adding complimentary colors add little bits at a time to sneak up on a color. You can also add blue and purples to most shadow colors but again be careful not to add too much at a time.

I also showed how to use your angle brushes to also create a shaded effect by first loading paint on to the tip area then placing the ENTIRE END OF THE BRUSH on the paper with the tip where you want it to be darker and the heel where it should be lighter then make your stroke. This is very fun to do and comes in very handy. It can also be done using a regular flat brush but the end needs to come to a nice sharp edge.

If you are working on this at home and have gotten your veggies up to the intensity of color you want, you might want to wait to finish your painting until I get to the shadow stage of mine and I still have to finish the table and the background. I may get to this stage next class but more than likely the following week, I just don’t want to get ahead of those who are still trying to figure out what I’m talking about. You might want to bring something else to work on so you don’t “fiddle” your project into a place from where it can’t be saved.

See you all in class.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 1: Project – From My Garden
My original painting.
The project we will be working on in class is based on a watercolor painting I did 20 years ago, I did change it up a bit but it is basically the same arrangement. If you want to do something of your own, please feel free to do so, the techniques will be very much the same, just be sure that you have good reference material to work from.

New version class project
I did not have time to get my drawing onto my paper before class so I had to approach my project a bit different than I had planned. I know just how much my students panic when colors run into other colors so I had originally planned to mask out the veggies with masking fluid before I got to class but with all kinds of chaos happening in my life, I just didn’t get the chance so I used a different approach, which in some ways might be better because it will show you that watercolor is a lot more versatile than most of you think. You don’t need to have a drawing on your paper to start with but it is helpful.

I did manage to get my drawing on and mask out the highlights for the demo. The masking fluid takes about 15 – 20 minutes to dry completely depending on how thick you put it on. If you are going to mask out the fruit you only need to go around the outside edges and put down about a half to an inch stripe all along the outside and let it dry, the rest will be exactly what I am going to do except you do not paint in the veggie area while the masking will let you paint the background right up to the edges and not worry about “ruining” your veggies.

In the PV class I didn’t put any masking on until I had painted my under painting. The reason for this is I had several people ask how they were going to get color into the highlight thinking that the highlight should have some of the color of the veggie it is on. Well, yes and no. a lot of the time it will depend on the fruit or veggie in question, if it has a matte surface like a melon or
Torrance background.
squash, the highlight may have a bit of color. On the other hand, if it is something shinny like an apple or tomato or even peppers, the highlight can look very white as it bounces off the surface. But what it really boils down to is: What do you as an artist want? Remember this is art so the choice is yours, since it doesn’t matter to me and I think it would be good to see what the difference really is, on the Torrance painting my highlights will be the paper white on the PV project they will be slightly tinted from the first under painting I do, then you can see the difference and make your own choice.

The background color choice is also up to you. If you think you might want to put this up in a certain room when you are done and a different color would make the d├ęcor better please feel free to change it, I have done green in Torrance and reds in PV but the technique is the same no matter the color.
PV version
I have always liked dramatic light and this first step will be the foundation for that light. The idea here is you have brought in the bounty of your garden (there were actual veggies from my own garden at the time) and they are sitting on the table when light from the window shines down on them maybe from a crack in the curtains but it acts like a spotlight on the bounty.

I start by wetting the whole paper with my large 2” wash brush. Remember, I am not worried about getting color into my veggies, if you have masked out your veggies, just put water on the background area for now, but it needs to be wet. I then pick up some yellow on the same brush and starting in the area behind the yellow zucchini and pumpkin I create my sunlight area (you will just make an arch in that area with your color), then I pick up some green and just outside the yellow area I apply the green to get the color on the paper, then rinse my brush, wipe it dry and blend the green into the yellow or lighter color. Don’t go all the way into the lighter color, just enough to create a graded blend of the two. This takes practice but it is easier in watercolor than other mediums. Pick up some more green or whatever color you are using but add some darker color like blue and/or purple to it, start in the corners and blend to the lighter green and repeat what you did before to blend the colors.

It is very easy to over blend and get one solid color, the trick is to stop before you go too far into the previous color. This take practice but it is a wonderful background for all sorts of subjects and a great way to start many different kinds of paintings where you want a dramatic light.

Where the veggies are sitting on the table if you want them on a table cloth instead of wood that is fine but you will still need to create the light and dark even if it is a solid color or patterned. I was painting over my veggies for this but I did have a paper towel in my hand to wipe off paint if I didn’t want it as dark but you will probably need to wet the bottom part of your paper and the process is very similar to the above just with different colors. For me it was still yellow in the sunlit area then sienna with a touch of orange just outside the light area then sienna, purple and blue in the corners (see the pict to get a better idea of my washes).

Then this has to dry completely especially if you used masking fluid to protect the edges. Be sure to feel in places where water may have pooled around the masking fluid such as dips or “V” shaped areas because if there is any moisture when you go to peal the masking off, you run the risk of tearing your paper. Just to be on the safe side pull towards an area that you know is dry or in other words, away for what was a wet area. Be sure that you put masking on any highlights before you start the next step and that it is dry before you begin.

Everything under painted
When your highlight masking is dry, we will now under paint the veggies. Most will be some form of yellow or yellow with orange or sienna, the two that have a bit different color in my painting are the peppers and the garlic. The garlic is a yellow base but has a touch of purple in it to gray the color, the peppers were a very watery purple with just a touch of blue.

Because there are so many pieces to this puzzle, you can work around your painting so you are always working in a dry area with dry areas around it but you need to choose wisely. If you start with the big yellow zucchini, you will want to avoid a lot of things like the peppers, garlic, tomato, melon, squash and pumpkin because they all touch the yellow, however, if you start with the pumpkin you can then do the peppers, then the tomatoes (big and cherry), the squash, the onion, back to the melon, then to the green zucchs and finally the yellow zucch.

The reason for all the yellow at this point is because it is the under color for almost all of the veggies on the table, including the green zucchs and the almost black acorn squash so it needs to be there. The only thing that is almost purely yellow is the one zucch, the pumpkin and acorn squash have a bit of orange in it, the melon has orange and green, the onion has a bit of sienna, the tomatoes have a touch of orange and red, the green zucchs have yellow and green but they are all very light at this point so be sure to add enough water to your paint.

This is your underpainting, do not take off the masking for the highlights just yet, but please be sure that you do not leave your painting in a hot car or where the sun will shine on it and bake the masking into the paper, if you can avoid that, you can leave the masking on for a few weeks and there should be no problem.

I hope you can all get your painting to this point by the next class because we will be moving forward. See you soon.