Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring 2014 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: From My Garden
Final Week

This final step I took with my paintings is not one you need to take to yours or if you do want to try it, you don’t have to be as aggressive with your color as I usually am. This will take some bravery on your part, just keep in mind this is a classroom situation and experimentation is not only shown, it is encouraged. You won’t know until you try it whether you will like it or not but it does add another element to the dynamic of your painting so grab a brush and give it a try.

What is this terrible/wonderful thing I am going to do? Add shadows.

Seemed like a bit of a come down after such a buildup but adding dark shadows to your work after spending all the time and effort to get it to a point where you don’t hate it as much can be a scary thing. Even my little voice in my head will question do I need to put the shadows in? Yes, I do.

Shadows can be everything you painting will need to finish it up. Shadows make the light areas seem lighter and more vibrant, they give a sense of direction and intensity of light, and they give form and interest. The darker your shadows are the more intense you light becomes and the more dramatic your finished painting will look. I can’t tell you how many times a student will ask me “Why does my painting look so flat?” and it all has to do with the shadows and their intensity.

I like dramatic light, if you want a lighter look to you painting or want to put in some other kind of background, you do not have to make your background with as much contrast as I have in mine but now is the time to be sure that your background is where you need it because from here out we will be finishing up the veggies and putting their shadows in.

When you are working on the shadows on your veggies, the light is coming from the front upper right as if there is a window opposite the veggies and the sun is coming in. The things with the brightest highlights will be the yellow zucchini, peppers, big tomato, to a lesser extent the tops of the melon, pumpkin and the tops of the garlic. Everything else will have highlights but they won’t be as intense as the aforementioned veggies or they will fall into less intense light.

I can write pages and pages on how the light is falling on each thing in our painting but unless

you can see this for yourself, my words will be wasted. If you can set something up in your own house, find a window that has light  coming through it, put some things on a table where you have a “sun spot”, it doesn’t even need to be veggies, just things with different shapes, turn off the interior lights and look at how the light plays on the objects. Find the brightest highlights, the darkest shadows, note the colors in the light and away from the light but not necessarily in the darkest shadows. Take a photo of the scene for reference so you can try to understand this play of light: Where does it come from? Where does it fall? Where are my shadows? You will find sun spots everywhere if you just look. As I have said in the past, the more observant you become the better an artist you will become.

These are the things I am thinking about when I get to the shadow part of my painting. First where is my light coming from and how intense do I want it? Where are my shadows and what do they fall on/across? Then I get started, I usually have to take a deep breath like jumping into a pool of unknown temperature, then start painting.

There are 2 kinds of shadows: From shadows that give things their shape and are usually lighter and Cast shadows that are created because something is blocking the light source and they are usually darker than a form shadow.

I use a bigger brush usually not smaller than my ½ inch and I use a mix or ultramarine blue, purple and a touch of burnt sienna not much sienna, I just want to gray it a bit, then I start in the place where it will be darkest which will be where something is sitting on the table or between objects and lighten as I move away from the thing that is casting the shadow. Be sure that your shadows follow the shape of what they are falling on, be observant because shadows will start and stop then pick up in a slightly different place as they follow the lumps and bumps and surface changes they fall on. This is something you have to see to understand, with practice it will become second nature, but you have to see it or my words mean nothing.

I will also go over the shadowed side of things in my painting to slightly blur them into the shadows. This is called “lost and found” and it adds a bit of mystery to your painting. Or I look to find light areas where I can put a very dark, dark to increase the contrast and therefore the intensity of my light. Be brave and give it a try.

I also took off my masking fluid to expose the white highlights. To tone down areas I thought were too big or too light I used either just water on my brush or a little color to decrease the white, the choice is yours.

We are now done with this project for the most part, if you still feel you want to work on it there is still plenty of time in class to get it done, if you think you are done with it please find something you want to work on and I will help you along the way. I will see you all in class.

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