Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter 2017 Watercolor Class

Watercolor class project: Flower Study 

I want to remind everyone that what we are doing this semester are studies, not complete paintings. Studies are something an artist should do to learn about the subjects they are painting, By only focusing on one thing, you get a better sense of what it is about and it is not strange territory when you go to paint it in your painting. Studies also helps you learn to see what is really in front of you because your brain will lie to you as in this instance, you brain tells you you are painting a white flower and it will balk when you start painting in shades of gray but it is those shades of gray that give the flower its texture and its depth otherwise, all we would need to do is paint around the outside and paint a center  in and it would be perfect. Just doesn't work like that and you need to train yourself to see these subtle changes in value.

First off have the photo and your gray scale in front of you at all times, this is your road map to the flower without it you are lost. 

Look for the whitest white on each petal. Those areas are along the edges going towards the center, the rest of the petal is some shade of gray: blue gray or lavender gray, I went with a more blue gray. This goes for any time you are painting white: white, in watercolor, is the white of the paper and the shadows are blues and purples.

Use your value scale and lay in about in the middle of one of the petals, then squint your eyes as you move the scale across the petal slowly. When the hole in the middle of the shade of gray disappears, that is the value of gray you need to mix.

My basic mix for gray is ultramarine blue and burnt sienna using water to thin the mixture to make it lighter. I do not use white because it clouds up the color and black is a color killer. It is better to mix to a dark color because you have more control of the hue that you get.

Have a sheet of test paper or test it along the side of your paper, since this is a study you won't hurt anything but you do need to test the color for value and hue (color) you want a blue gray.

Most of the petals have white next to the petal next to them so you can paint around the flower, sometimes you have to skip over petals so that wet areas do not flow into other wet areas creating a bloom or back run. 

Once you have your medium blue gray (no darker than a 3 on the value scale, start near the center of the flower on the first petal and paint that color at the bottom, up the sides and part way up the center of the petal. Rinse your brush and with just a damp brush, pull that color up and over the rest of the petal. The color should become lighter as you go. If you need to get more color go back to the darker area and get more color or add more color to the darker area and repeat. Do not paint in the areas that should remain white.

What you should get is what is called a graded wash: Dark at the bottom and lighter as you go up. Do this on all the petals but please check your photo before you paint anything.

You may need to repeat this a couple of times because watercolor dries a bit lighter but each time you start, start where it is darkest and work up. Also, leave some of the previous color to create the ridges and wrinkles of the petals. Use the end of your brush if you are using a flat or angle brush or the tip of a round brush to create the darker part of the ridges, just remember they are not straight but curved and fad them out towards the end of the petal or it will take on a more variegated look.

The center is stippled (lots of dots) in using a more concentrated mix of yellow with a touch of orange (more orange in the center). Don't cover up all of the lighter yellow you put in, this becomes highlights. The darker dots were ultramarine blue and burnt sienna.

To define the outside edges of the flower use a darker color like blue, green or some other color that will get a dark version (I was using the ultramarine blue and a touch of purple), then use this dark color to create the ridges on the ends of the petals and the couple of spaces in between the petals near the center. It is the contrast between the dark and the light that makes the flower look like a white flower even though you know from painting it that it is a mostly gray flower. 

Everything you used to paint this flower holds true for any other light or white thing you will paint, this is not exclusive to this one flower alone, another good thing about studies.

Next time we will be doing the leaf so please have your line drawing on your paper so we can get started painting when we come to class.

Keep painting and I will see you in class.

No comments: