Sunday, February 21, 2016

Winter 2016 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Project: Cozy Cottage Week 5

Torrance class we have not gotten this far yet we will be going over this in our next class so do not worry if you don't have your painting this far along. You did miss a week.

By this time you should have all of the background with the cottage, the pine trees, the reflection, and in the foreground: the plants around the road and the fence post all in because we are finally getting to the bush on the left hand side.

If your drawing for the bush has faded with the layers of water that you've been putting on your painting, you might want to sketch it back in because this area is a bit confusing. If you can't see what you're doing even if you just put in where the branches are going to be then you will know where your snow is going to be, and if you know where your snow is, the leaves and the berries will follow. Get out your reference photos to sketch them back in.

Not much of the branches show but some of them do to paint them I used a mix burnt sienna with a little blue and a little touch of orange. I just painted them in some places to suggest that there were branches and twigs holding up the snow and leaves, you don't paint the whole thing because most will be hidden behind leaves and snow but you need them there to show what is holding things up, this is why you need to have not only your drawing so that you understand what you will be painting, but also your reference material in front of you so that you know exactly where you are going.

Once I had my branches in I painted the snow in first. I mixed a medium blue which will be darker than most of the other shadows we have been painting but this is what you need to create the shadowed side of this bush. This color was mostly ultramarine blue, with a little touch of purple to turn it a plum color and a very tiny, little bit of burnt sienna to slightly grey the color. If it goes completely gray or if it looks too warm you have added either too much burnt sienna or purple this needs to look blue.

I am putting the snow on before I put in the leaves for the simple reason I do not want my snow to turn green, if you put the leaves in first you will have to very carefully paint around them or run the risk of picking up the dark green as you are painting in the snow. Sort of my rule of thumb: If it is lighter in color it goes down first.

Look at your reference photo before you start, including the actual photo of the holly bush that I used as a reference for this painting. Note how the snow lies on the branches and in the leaves, they are weighted down from the snow so you want a lot of your snow to angle slightly down so as you put the snow on top of these branches. Think about what you're doing: you are putting snow on the branches, think about the shapes, think about the underlying branches and twigs that the snow is sitting on don't just paint blindly, know what you're doing before you start and not get confused while you're in the midst of it. I saw this a lot in class.

Once you have all of the snow under painted you can use that same dark blue/purple to create the shadow that falls across the front of your painting: it comes from underneath the tree that you're painting, goes across the road and up into the fence line. Look at the reference photo. Remember the shadow falls on top of something so it follows the shape of the thing that it falls on so if there are bumps and rises in the snow your shadow also needs to follow those bumps and rises and bring it all the way across the page to the fence and at the outside edges of it break it up like the outside edges of the tree that's casting the shadow so that you will see sun spots in between the shadows.

When the shadow snow on your tree is dry go back in with a slightly darker version of the color you were just using and around the bottom and in between start shaping lumps of snow. Remember there are leaves and branches and berries underneath the snow so it's not going to be a nice smooth, velvety layer of snow, it's going to have bumps and dips and you need to show that by putting in some shadow shapes. We will come back later and lift out a few highlights but try to get in the shadows just like you've been painting shadows throughout this painting the darkest is going to be near the bottom and lightens up towards the, look at the reference photo of both the finished piece and the original photograph.

While this new layer is drying on you tree you can put in some grasses in the road and by the fence if you want to, it will require you to get out your liner brush so practice with it first, it’s just little circular motions with your liner brush use any of the browns that you've been using for the fence and for the house. This is dead grass so it's not going to be a bright green and make them long and short, make them bent over, put a few on the sides of your painting, put a few down the center of the roadway and near the bushes… don't get too carried away with this just put enough in that it looks like they have survived the storm and are standing tall. You can also go back in with your liner brush and you can pull little shadows off from the bottom again remember that the snow is lumpy and bumpy, these are not straight they may go up then they go down and up, just think about the snow that you're painting them over.

Now we get to the leaves that are in the tree. I wanted to have the snow in first so that I could pull leaves out of the snow as well as keeping the green out of the snow, Look at the original photograph before you start painting, you are painting leaves not dragon teeth, not a solid green line, you are painting leaves. They come in different sizes and shapes, different angles so please look at what your painting, think about what your painting, before you start painting it. The leaves mostly come out from underneath the snow, the snow itself is settled down in between and on top of these leaves, some of the leaves will stick out of the snow so there will be snow surrounding some of the leaves. Again, look at the reference photos before you start painting.

The color I used for the leaves was a very dark green: that was my hooker’s green with ultramarine blue and a little touch of purple and water to lighten if needed. I was using my half inch angle brush and making leaf shapes coming out in all directions, even from inside some of the snow clumps. Don't fill it in completely, leave some spaces between leaves and branches, you want to be able to see the snow behind the tree to give depth to your painting.

The berries were painted with alizarin crimson with a little touch of ultramarine blue in it. The color should still look red but the blue will darken it slightly. Remember the berries - just like the snow and the leaves - are in shadow and they are going to be a cool color so you will need to add a little touch of the ultra-marine blue. Using either a round brush, your liner brush or the tip of a flat or angled brush just put in dots in clumps of dots mostly underneath and in between the leaves and the snow. Look at that reference photo again you will see that most of the berries are hanging down underneath the leaves.

Lastly I came in with an even darker version of the green, if you have some of the green left add a little touch more blue and purple to it and just in a few places like up underneath clumps of snow and in the corners, add some darker leaves. This variation will create more three dimension in your leaves and in the tree.

Basically I am done with this painting. For you to be done, you need to go through and look at it and see where you think it needs to have some more work done. If it needs any more detail, like I said, you can come back in with a damp brush and lift some highlights off the very top of some of the clumps of snow in your tree, it won't look white, and it shouldn't look white, it'll just look like a lighter blue and it will give some dimension to the clumps in your tree. Also you may want to go back through and see where you can add some more shadows into your snow even in the areas that already have shadow there may be some darker areas like in the road ruts but be careful and do not get too carried away with detail and keep any detail closer to the front or middle ground. If you are looking for something to do you are probably done so let it sit for a few days and then look at it again with fresh eyes, if nothing jumps out at you then you're done.

So keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Winter 2016 Watercolor Class

WINTER 2016 WATERCOLOR CLASS Project: Cozy Cottage Week 4

The first thing I did was to make sure that I had all of my masking fluid off my paper I no longer needed it so remove all the masking fluid that you have on your project. You can feel where it is if you can't see it just run your hand over the paper and you will feel what feels like a rubber band, that's the masking fluid.

I wanted to finish up the pine trees in the back so I mixed up two colors: 1 was my shadow color for the snow which is my ultramarine blue and my purple, the other color was a dark green color to match the trees which was my hookers green and my ultramarine blue, water is used to lighten it if necessary.

I went back and forth between these colors shaping the areas that had masking fluid so that they looked more like snow on the pine trees or if I needed to, I painted in more green to create more pine tree. I use the blue to create the shadows just like I have every place else starting with the coolest part of the shadow, rinsing my brush and using water to lightly blended up. You can also use this dark green to help define the top of your roof, by putting dark behind your roof it will look lighter and more distinct.

I also continued putting in shadows now that I can see where my brightest highlights are, I can go in and add the darker shadows to create more dimension in the mounds of snow. Be aware that you need to follow the shape of the thing that you are painting with your brush strokes, for instance, in the ruts of the road going up to the house you need to have a more U shaped stroke so that it looks indented into the snow, if the stroke is a flat stroke it won't look as deep, if it is a rounded up stroke it will look like it is standing on top of the snow so use this optical illusion to your advantage.

I also used that dark green color to paint in bushes along my road way. Remember the bushes are underneath the snow not on top of it, so leave the tops white and just suggest bushes under there with dark green shapes. You don't have to do any more detail than that dark color. I had also saved some white areas out in the pond, if you have those remember they also need some cool shadows a dark line right where they are touching the water, that sets them down into the water and makes your reflection look even more dimensional.

I also went back into the house and added some darker shadows under the eaves, in some places in the snow, in the windows anywhere I just wanted to give it more dimension. I also took my brush with just water on it and lifted out the smoke coming out of the chimney. You need to be careful when you are doing this so that you do not damage the paper but you will use a damp brush starting at the top of the chimney with little circular strokes and then move away and create the smoke as it trails out, then pat dry with a paper towel. You will see some of the color that was there originally and that will give the smoke a bit more of a translucent look to it, the way smoke usually looks because it’s not a solid.

I also went back in with some darker colors and added a bit more detail into that wood pile in the back and into the fence post in the front remember it's going to be darker up underneath by the snow because the snow is casting a shadow, look at your reference photo and see where the shadows are, try to get as much of this done to this point as you can because when we meet again we will be putting in the holly bush on the side and wrapping this thing up. Keep painting and I will see you in class.
Torrance Project

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Winter 2016 Watercolor Class

Winter 2016 Watercolor Class: Cozy Cottage Week 3

Torrance students I want to remind you that you're a week behind where the Palos Verdes classes so please look at the previous blog for instructions on where you are in class.

PV class you should have your pine trees in behind the house and your painting should be to a point where you can remove the masking fluid from the trees and the cottage.

This week we started to detail the snow on the roof of cottage and to finish up the reflection in the pond in front of the cottage if you are not to that point you need to get to that point so that we can get this finished.

If you have taken the masking fluid off of the roof of your house we are now going to add some dimension and texture to the snow using a mix of ultramarine blue a little touch of purple to create a plum color and add a lot of water to it because we want it to be a very pale mixture. You can always add another layer or wash of color to make a darker color, it is harder to take off color than it is to put it on so you want to sneak up on the value that you are trying to get.

Using this soft bluish color start at the base of one of the areas of snow where it touches the thatch part of the roof, this will be in a shadow part of the snow. Put down some of this color right at the base working in small areas, rinse your brush, dry it off and then with a damp brush pull some of that color up into the white snow area. If you do this correctly you will start to see snow has dimension if you need to do it again let it dry a bit first but repeat exactly what you did here. You can take what's left over in your brush and tap round into some of the lighter snow areas and that creates the sense of texture in the snow.

The stones for the house are done with burnt sienna, a little touch of yellow and even a little touch of orange, to create a warm color for the sunny side of the house. It needs to be a shade or so darker than what is already there and when you put this on it's not going to be a solid color you're just going to make little dabs and shapes with your brush. Whether you are using a round brush, an angle brush or a flat brush, you're just going to be making some little rock types shapes. For the shadow area add a little touch of purple or blue to this mixture and repeat the process don't try to line them up or make them even or even the same size or shape because these are rocks that came out of the field and they are all different shapes. Leave little thin spaces of that under color to represent the mortar between the rocks, this is where underpainting comes in it becomes something else such as the mortar or highlights or just texture.

You can paint in the windows by adding more blue and even a little touch of purple into the same color to create a dark charcoal grey but remember if you want snow in these windows do not paint the entire square leave a bit of white to have snow in your window. If you want to put a door in there is an indentation to where the door attaches to the house, add water to the color you have to lighten it paint in a little thin line on one side of the door rinse your brush and then paint the door any color you would like to be a blue door, or red door, brown door… make it your own.

The bricks or stones for the chimney I did much the same way I just used a little bit more burnt sienna and a little touch of purple into it for the shadows but I left some of the under color show for the mortar in the chimney.

Now we go back to the reflection in the pond again. You should have a rough sketch of where the house will show in the water before you begin, then I want you to wet everything that is supposed to be water but do not get the snow or the fence post or anything else wet, just what is supposed to be the pond, so take clear water and wet the area.

Using colors that are similar to what you used in the house above starting at the shoreline right below the house pull those colors straight down stopping at your mark on your paper where the house ends, it does not need to be a perfect reflection it just needs to suggest a reflection. Remember to pull down some of that lavender color that you put in for the snow and the shadow colors for the house, these colors should blend with the wet paper to create a soft image then where the sky is from our last meeting add some more crimson into that color to darken it slightly you want to have a soft blurry image that suggests a reflection of the house above it.

I went back in with that shadow color I was using on the roof and added more shadows into some of the areas around the house there are several layers of shadows in this snow to make it have dimension. I also went in - after the reflection was dry - and I toned where the
railing for the fence and the wood pile is by the house are with a soft mix of burnt sienna with a touch of blue and lots of water, I don't want dark colors yet this is just the underpainting. Lastly I took a mix of blue and purple and a little sienna to make a dark bluish color and using my small angled brush I put a dark line right around the shoreline, just remember you can only see this color for the parts of the shoreline that are directly in your line of sight, so do not outline the entire thing look at it closely and look at the reference to find out where the snow or the shoreline may be blocking little inlets.

Do as much as you can to get your painting to this point and we will continue from there so keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Winter 2016 Watercolor Class: Cozy Cottage Week 2

Torrance class remember that the PV class is a week ahead of you so you will be using these notes as your review after our next class you do not need to have your painting to this level when you come to class on Monday because we have not gotten this far yet so do not panic.

This week we moved forward by getting the trees behind the cottage painted in and we based in the under painting for the house and some of the shadows in our snow along with starting the reflection in the pond.

The trees behind the cottage were painted with a dark, greyed green using my hooker’s green with a bit of ultramarine blue and a little touch of burnt sienna to gray the color you want it to be a medium dark color not a bright green but not a color that looks so dark it could be black. Remember that these trees are in the middle ground so they do not have a lot of brilliant color to them.

I always use one of my angled brushes, they're like a flat brush with a diagonal cut in the bristles to give them an angled shape, but this will work with a flat brush as well as a round brush the technique is just a little bit different so do not panic if you don't have an angle brush use the brush that you are most comfortable with but practice it first before you get to your painting.

To create a pine tree you first draw the top tip with the point of your brush if you are using a flat brush or an angle brush you can use the sharp chiseled edge to create this top of the tree then coming down a little ways from the top you press the tip onto this line and flick your brush out quickly. The longer you have your brush to the paper the longer your mark will be so if you want short branches at the top of your tree it’s going to be a very quick press and flick and when you flick your pulling it up off the paper quickly. This is going to take practice which I encourage you to do before you get to your painting I will keep saying that when we hit something that is different and new because you can't expect yourself to do this perfectly the first time especially if you are working on your masterpiece.

As you come down the tree give it an irregular, outside shape. Pine trees get wider at the bottom of the tree so branches get longer but there are also branches in front of the tree so you want to fill in all parts of your tree and not just have branches coming off the side of a trunk or your tree will look like a comb instead of round like a tree. Using that same quick touch and flip stroke I can make these trees as tall and as wide and as full as I need them to be with overlapping strokes but remember: These are not the first pine trees I have ever painted I have had years of practice which is what you need to do before you paint them.

Last week, we put down masking fluid where we wanted the snow to be on our pine trees using this as a guide and using the dark green color, I painted my trees as if that masking fluid was not there I painted outside the masking fluid I painted in between the masking fluid as far as I was concerned I was more interested in creating an interesting shaped tree then to worry about that masking fluid that is just there to protect the snow parts of the trees.

If you do not have masking fluid on the roof of your house you will have to be a little bit careful when you are painting your trees most of you should have protected the snow on the roof with masking fluid so that you could paint your trees and not worry about ruining the snow on the roof of your little house so before you do your trees if you have not covered your roof be sure that you do and let the masking fluid dry before you start working on your trees.

Once I have the trees in, I then went to put the base colors on my house. This house is made of fieldstone which basically means whatever they found in the field when they were preparing this land for farming they stack stones up and use them to build their houses so they are irregular shapes and sizes and colors. For our purposes I want this little cottage to have a warm and inviting look so I under painted the house with a very light yellow this will become the highlights for my house it is not the finished color just one of many you can also put this color into the thatching areas of the roof, thatch is basically grasses that they use to make the roof so it's going to have a lot of warm colors in it.

The shadow area of this house is a very light purple color I took that same light yellow which was cadmium yellow with a lot of water and to that I added just a little touch of purple to create a cool shadow color for the house again you do not want this to be a dark color this will end up being the cool highlights in the shadows so you don't want to get too dark too fast remember this is watercolor and we work from light to dark so at this stage in our painting everything needs to be very light we will get darker later.

When you are painting the roof you need to remember that it is grasses and they have a texture this will be done with a dry brush. What that means is that there will be very little water and paint in your brush when you were painting so that you have streaks. Again if you have not done this and you don't understand dry brush, you need to practice. So take an old painting or a piece of scratch paper, load your brush with any color to practice, dry out the bristles by squeezing at the base of the bristles near the metal ferrule and then lightly dragging your brush across the paper it should look like scratches or hair or wood grain, if it is filled in so that you don't see any lines whatsoever, you can have two problems: You either have too much water on your brush and/or you're pressing too hard or both it's a very light touch and little water.

Once you feel you understand dry brush, when you get to your roof you will be using orange with a little bit of burnt sienna in it in a little bit of water on a dry brush and then you want to be sure that when you pull your strokes on your paper that you are following the angle of the roof line. You don't want to pull straight down or straight across because it won't look like a thatched roof, you need to follow the roof’s angle that you are trying to create. When you are in shadow areas add just tiny touch of blue into that color and do the same thing but follow the roof line some of the grass hangs over the edge of the roof and so it will change direction and come straight down so be aware what your painting and the angle of what you are painting.

We need to start working on the reflection in the water reflections can be a bit tricky because they are not necessarily a mirror of what you see when you are looking at this scene a reflection from water is reflecting what is directly above it so some things like the pine trees are too far in the background to reflect into the water only parts of the house will reflect in the water. To find out what will reflect in the water, either using your fingers or the end of a brush, put the end of your brush on the top of the chimney and then mark with your fingers the bottom of the house,  then move the top of your brush to the bottom of the house and see how far into the water your fingers touch that is the top edge of what you are going to see in the reflection so, in essence,  you are not going to be painting the entire house it's mostly just the roof and the chimney.

The first thing we do with the reflection is we want to wet the whole area so with just water area with plain water, look at your reference photo and look at your drawing, we're only going to wet the water area not everything, just the water area. This means when you get to the fence in the front you're going to have to skip the part that is the fence and wet those little squares or shapes that you see between the fence parts. Into these wet areas you will add some crimson like you had in the sky just not too bright what will be above the roof of the reflected house (see the reference photo) and even some grey if you still have it. Pull these colors down so if any strokes show it will look like a reflection. Leave the house area for now, that will come next week.

Next we are going to start with our next layer of shadows. We already have covered the entire paper with a very light blue except those areas that we've protected with masking fluid we're going to add a little bit stronger version of that color but again we're not going for the darkest darks we are just going in for some of them middle shadow colors so it isn't a dark color you'll be using a lot of water. On your palate you will mix you're ultramarine blue with a little touch of purple and water you want a plum color then add enough water to lighten it to a soft lavender color, now you're going to start looking at your reference photo to see where the shadows are and that is what you're going to be painting. There are shadows around the house, there are shadows in the road, there are shadows around the little pond… but look at these before you start to paint and it doesn't mean you paint everything, just painting shadow areas. Leave some of what is there, that becomes the next lightest color and you need you need both lights and darks to create the sense of depth and texture in your painting.

When you are applying the paint start where it is the darkest color, like around the house, where there is a pile of snow next to the house, etc, start at the bottom where the shadows are going to be deepest apply some paint then rinse your brush and with just water along the edge of that color you just put down take your brush and blend out so there is a soft gentle transition from the light area to the darker area.

Use this technique when you do the shadows in the road. Come in with your color - and I kind of took my brush with a seesaw motion so that I have an irregular bumpy shape - rinsed my brush and then softened the edges of the section I just put down. Work in short sections so your paint is still wet and will blend.

When you are doing something like a road you have to remember that it is an indentation in the snow so it is going to have a u-shape, then as it comes up where it is meeting the top of the snow it is going to have the reverse shape so it ends up being like an S on its side again shape is very critical when you are painting to give your viewer enough information so that they can fill in details.

When the area around the house and trees is completely dry you can remove the masking from the house and trees ONLY, leave it on the rest of the covered areas.

PV class try to get as much of this done as possible by looking photographs of where I finished my work for this week and do the best you can so that we can move forward when we meet again. Do the best you can keep painting and I will see you in class.