Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fall 2016 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: Pumpkins on Parade Week 2

This week I worked more on getting the shadows started and adding layers of color to increase the intensity of the colors as well as the shadows.

I did most of my overall painting of the pumpkins before I took the masking off the smaller pumpkins in front. Once I was to a point where I was adding color more carefully, I wasn't worried about accidentally painting over something I shouldn't to I could take the masking off.

Please note that I have left the masking on the blue pumpkin where the texture will be and the stems.

I based in the small yellow pumpkin and suggested shadows with a light mix of blue and purple into the yellow color.

Remember: when you want a lighter color you add more water NOT WHITE.

I have under painted the other light yellow pumpkin with a very dilute mix of cad yellow with a tiny touch of orange with lots of water and the small white pumpkin with a very light gray made with blue and sienna and lots of water. I left the areas I wanted white unpainted though I did rinse my brush and soften the edges of the gray.

On the large orange pumpkin I was adding color to intensify the color (make it deeper/more vibrant) and to establish highlights and shadows.

Please note that each segment is curved side to side and top to bottom, your brush strokes and your shading also need to follow those curves.

Try to keep up as best you can, I will be working a bit faster so I can try to finish this before the end of the semester. Keep painting and I will see you in class. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall 2016 Watercolor Class Week 4

Fall 2016 Class Project: Windblown Final Week

The final version of Windblown. I have added more detail to the tree trunks and added more grasses to the foreground.

Using a combination of my angle brush and liner brush I added more grass to the foreground.

With the angle brush (you can use a flat brush as well) and using a dry brush technique (very little water on the brush) I flipped up some tops of clumps of grasses or flipped down to create shadows behind lighter grass in front (negative painting).

With my liner brush I pulled some of the longer, taller grasses out of the clumps but in both cases I had to remember that the grasses needed to bend in the wind to add to the idea that the tree and the grasses are bending in the wind.

Pumpkin Parade - Week 1

After I sketched in my pumpkins I used my masking fluid (the gray color in the photo) to protect areas that I want to leave white for now. This will let me paint and not have to worry about accidentally getting a color where I don't want it.

 Don't forget to do the bumps on the blue pumpkin with the masking but do notice that they do follow the curves of the pumpkin.

I wet the paper behind the large pumpkin in the back and added some cad. yellow light with a touch of orange (Indian yellow on its own would also be good) and painted a glow behind the pumpkin. This may or may not play into this painting at the end but I need to put it in now because later will be too late.

I based in the  two orange pumpkins with a very light wash of cad orange and lots of water. The blue pumpkin is also a light wash of blue with a little touch of that thin orange to dull it slightly. You can use either ultramarine blue or pthalo blue if you have it.

Be sure you use a very thin/light wash when you are under painting, these thin light washes become the light areas of the pumpkins so they are very important.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall 2016 Watercolor Class

Watercolor Class Project: Windblown Week 3

This week I continued working on the foreground tree adding more branches and texture. I used my liner brush for the small branches and twigs and my 1/4" angle brush to create texture on ly tree trunk and larger branches as well ad more shadows.

To create the texture, I used the thin, chiseled end of my angle brush when adding another layer of color remembering to leave some of the lighter color that was there for highlights and following the angles and curves of the trunk, branches and roots. I added several layers using a darker color for the shaded side but always leaving some of the previous lighters color to create the texture.

To get the smaller, thinner branches and twigs, I used my liner brush and a darker paint so it will show up slightly against the darker background. Be sure that your paint is the consistency of ink or it won't flow off your brush. It is more natural to have a lot of these smaller twigs in the tree then just a few bigger branches. You will get a lot of practice using your liner brush on this painting.

I still have a little bit more to do but I may also get started on my pumpkin painting if I have time. This is an optional project, if you want to do your own thing I am fine with that, though I do suggest you watch the demos to learn techniques.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Watercolor Class Project: Windblown Week 2

This week we added in the foreground tree. I chose the golden color for this tree because it will go well with the green.

I added some highlights and suggested shadows to the background tree by lifting out color with a damp brush for the highlights and adding a bit of ultramarine blue to my green to darken it for the shadows.

After removing the masking fluid, I under painted the foreground tree with a very diluted color made with yellow and a touch of burnt sienna. this is a very light tint of a wash. You can see 4 different layers in this photo. Remember: in watercolor you work from light to dark so you must leave your light areas if you want highlights. (I am still working on these branches)

Working in layers of color - sienna with a touch of orange and water as my base - I deepened the color of the trunk adding touches of blue or purple for the darker shadows into the base color or orange and yellow for the golden, warmer colors. I did leave some of the under painting for highlights in the tree and to create the texture I used the very edge of my 1/4 angle brush, just tapping it to create the texture of the bark. I was also following the angles of the trunk, branches and roots with my strokes and tapping.

To suggest that there are grasses at the base of the tree and around the roots, using my 1/4 inch angle brush, I used the tree color and negative painted the grass. What that means is I was painting the root but leaving the suggestion of grass in the color that was there. You are painting the root between the grass blades.

More negative painting.

Once I had the main branches mostly painted in, I switched to my liner brush to make the smaller branches. Note the color change in the image to the left, the color is the very same color as the lighter color but because the lighter color was where I had masking and the darker part of the branch is going over an area that already had color, the existing color influences the new layer of paint that I put down because watercolor is suppose to be transparent and all previous layer will effect any new layers that go on top. You need to remember this as a watercolorist.

Be sure when you get going on your branches and twigs that you put enough in to make it look like tree branches. Go out and look at trees and see how many there actually are and how they get smaller as they go to the ends. Also don't be afraid to overlap your branches or change directions, again, look at those trees, this is a very natural thing for them to do.

Try to have you painting to this point for our next class. We will continue to work on the tree and maybe finish it up. Keep painting and I will see you in class.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


This project can be any combination of colors that you want if you have someplace you think you might want to hang it you can match the color theme of the room, this is the beauty of this painting is that when you change the color it changes the mood of the painting, this is a fun thing to do.

I saw these trees down in front of the Redondo Beach Library in Veterans Park near the pier and I really liked their shape but I didn't like what was around and behind them but I'm an artist so I get to do whatever I want and I decided to just use the trees as inspiration and to create my own work of art from them.

You as an artist need to learn how to do this. Too often I find students bring in photos that have a lovely subject with a horrible background and what do they do they spend all their time sweating over? Creating this horrible background that their lovely subject gets lost in then they aren’t happy with the results. If you look at the photo of the trees that I took, you can see all kinds of unimportant stuff in the photo. There are apartment buildings, there are park benches and trash cans and who knows what else that do not need to be a part of my painting. I tell my students that as artists we are the ultimate in Photoshop we have an artistic license and we need to use it and this subject is a prime example.

For this project my paper is going to be twice as long as it is tall mine is basically 10 by 20 inches and I am using my regular hundred and forty pound cold press watercolor paper if you are using a tablet or a watercolor block you can either cut your paper to the appropriate size or you can mask it out with masking tape and leave the paper whole, you just want a size that is approximately twice as long as it is tall.

The first thing I did was to mark where my foreground starts and that is approximately a third of the way up from the bottom it does not need to be exact because this is supposed to be rolling hills or grasses and so it will be uneven just approximately a third of the way up.

Next I sketched in the main parts of my foreground tree such as the trunk and the main branches and a few of the roots, you do not need to put in all of the smaller branches in the foreground tree you will do that with your liner brush. I did not draw in the background tree I just free handed that with my brush when I got to it.

When I had finished sketching in the main portions of my foreground tree I covered the tree with masking fluid and then I had to let it dry. For those of you who have never used or are unclear on the use of masking fluid, it is like rubber cement and watercolor artists use it to protect areas the want to keep white or light so they can paint over those areas instead of around them and not introduce colors into that area they do not want. When we remove the masking fluid the paper underneath will still be white.

The first thing I did before I started to paint was I wet my paper thoroughly. You want the paper to be wet so that the colors will blend on their own and you won't have to do too much blending which can cause back runs or lifting of color or strange streaks, so be sure that you have wet your paper well. You can spray it with your spray bottle and then take your large wash brush and go over the paper to be sure that the paper is what.

I used my large wash brush for this first part of my painting because I need to cover the paper quickly because the paper and the paint need to remain wet, that is why I used the biggest brush I have like my big wash or blending brush.

Once the paper was wet, I picked up some light yellow and a touch of sap green and lightly mixed it in my palate with a little water then starting in the right third of the paper I added this color in a circle covering about half of that area. Next I picked up some more sap green and added it to the yellow and green I had on my palate but no water this time, then just on the outside of the lighter circle, I added this new light green color. If you do this correctly the two areas will blend on their own however if they don't seem to be blending your paper probably wasn't wet enough so you will have to help them along by rinsing your brush and then with a damp brush just go over the area between the two different colors and add just a touch more water and let them blend. Next you will take more of the green and add just a little touch ultramarine blue to it and repeat the process coming out to about the two-thirds mark from the right. Again you want to make sure that the two areas between the light green and this darker green are blending on their own if not you may have to help them along.

Finally on the far left and up in the corners of the right you will add more blue to the green so it is a very dark blue green and finish covering the paper. Then you will need to let it dry a bit.

When your paper has dried to the touch you will mix a medium yellow green color using your cadmium yellow light and you're sap green, start on the outside edges of the light area and make the first band of grasses for the back tree. You want to make sure that these grasses bend as if they are in the wind they because will go in the same direction as the tree, just work your way across. I used my three quarter inch angled brush and the point makes a very nice suggestion of grasses. The grasses that go across the light area need to be a bit lighter just add water to lighten this color and work your way over to the other edge of the light area.

One of the things I want you to look at on my painting is how I used positive and negative painting to suggest the grasses. At the top of the background grass I was positively painting the grass with my brush: that is, the darker grass against the lighter background using the contrast to suggest these grasses however if you look down at the second layer of grass in the foreground, I used what's called negative painting because instead of painting the grasses with my brush I painted the spaces between the grasses with my brush leaving the light area that was there to become the tops of the foreground grass and the darker color I used becomes shadows in the background. Learning to paint negative spaces is not only important for a watercolorist to do it is also important to understand because we work from light to dark we must leave lighter areas to suggest the light in our paintings.

You will probably use a couple of different brushes for the back tree a larger brush for the trunk and the bigger limbs and branches and your liner brush for the smaller twigs and branches of this tree be sure that you practice this before you get to your painting this liner brush is a little tricky but it makes absolutely gorgeous trees and grasses and bushes so you will need to learn to use it.

I started with my half inch angled brush to create the trunk and some of the bigger limbs and roots of the background tree and I used a darker green that was a mix of sap green and blue and I painted in those main parts with this color.

When I had painted as many of those larger branches with my angled brush as I could, I then switch to my liner brush. The trick to the liner brush is loading it with paint: the paint needs to be about the consistency of India ink and when you load your brush you need to roll the whole brush into the paint and then as you lift the brush off your palate you spin it between your fingers to form a point. To make larger bigger branches you press down harder and use the whole brush to create the thicker branch then as you move out into smaller parts of the branches you left your brush until you get to the point, so you will need to drag and lift, you can make some very, very fine lines with this brush. Do not worry about a little shake in your hand as you do this because if you look at tree branches you will see that there are a lot of little twists and turns in them so that shake in your hand is helping you, however, you do need to learn how to control the pressure on this brush.

When you go to make a new branch start in either the trunk or an existing branch pull along it and then make a new branch off of the old branch it will have a much better transition than when trying to start the new branch right off of the old branch or trunk because you will sometimes get little overlaps and ticks that do not look like a branch coming off of another.

You need to put in a lot of little branches the more the better. If you only put in a few it will not look natural it will look like something is missing so you will need to put in a lot of those smaller finer branches this is good practice for using this liner brush.

Try to get as far along on this as you can I will be taking off the masking in our next session and will be working on the foreground tree so try to have your painting as close to what I have and we will continue when we meet again so keep painting and I will see you in class.