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.

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