Acrylic Class Projects: Leaf and Rock
I first under painted where I wanted the veins to be using sap green with yellow and the side of my bristle brush. I DID NOT PAINT LINES, instead I made a wide mark along the vein lines. Look at the photo and you will see that near the veins the green is still present as blotches and patches, I will make the lines smaller as I add the red leaf color but I will end up leaving some of the green.
When the green dried, I under painted the red of the leaf using a mix or alizarin crimson, touch of orange and burnt sienna. I did not mix this completely and much of the time I picked up paint and mixed it on my canvas so the color was more mottled then a solid color and looked more natural. I scumbled the color on using the side of my brush and when I was near the green veins I lessened the pressure on my brush so some of the green would show through. Press harder to cover better.
I did pick up colors and added them as I was painting such as orange, yellow or red where the light might be hitting or crimson and blue under the curl-back to establish the shadow. Remember that this is a study you do not need to be precise, you are just "getting a feel" for the leaf.
The curled part of the leaf was done in the same colors as the main part of the leaf but with white/gesso added to change the value.
Again, really look at the photo so find the details, it is not a solid color but it changes from light to lighter because of the wrinkles in the leaf or where it is turning back on itself.
There is a bluish color on the surface of the leaf which is blue, a touch of crimson and white to lighten, then using the dry brush technique (very little paint or water on your brush) and with very little pressure on the side of your brush, lightly glaze the leaf. You should be able to see a lot of the red when you do this If you can't you either have too much paint, water, pressing too hard or all of the above. Studies are a good way to practice a technique in a practical way.
This gets you the basic leaf painted in from this point you need to finish it with as much or as little detail as you wish. I added a background using all my colors and just suggesting leaf shapes in the background but not making actual leaves, it makes the study leaf stand out.
Rocks always seem to make even veteran artists quiver in their boots, why? I don't know as I have always loved to do rocks, so breaking it down and doing a study of a rock will help lessen the fear of rocks because they are really quite interesting to paint.
The first thing I did, using the gray I had mixed when we were doing the flower (yes it is still good and it is ultramarine blue, burnt sienna and gesso, in case you need to mix more) I took some of that gray and mixed in a touch of yellow, sienna and a tiny touch of purple to gray the color then I scumbled this color into my rock shape on my canvas. You want a medium light color but you don't need to be exact.
As I demonstrated in class, I picked up some green to show that even if you accidentally pick up a different color, it is okay. Just blend it in and pretend like you meant to do it, it isn't wrong. Rocks have lots of other colors in them if you just look and as I mentioned before, I like to blend my colors on the canvas so I get streaks of different colors. I did this when painting in the shadow areas, I just picked up some blue and a tiny touch of purple along with the light yellow gray I was using to make a darker, cooler color and it lets me make softer blends where the warmer and cooler colors come together so I avoid hard edges.
Once this under painting was dry, I mixed a similar color with the light gray as the base with the yellow, sienna and orange but this time I added more white to it so I could start the highlighting process.
Using the side of my bristle brush with very little paint on it, I scrubbed and scumbled the lighter areas of the rock. Look at the reference photo and you will see that there are lighter areas mostly along the edges and top parts of the rock. Follow the direction of the rock surface with your brush strokes. Remember: the more pressure you use the more paint come off, the less pressure you use less paint comes off. Again, the study is a good place to try these techniques.
The shadows are done the same way but with a different color: Add blue and sienna to the color you are using, even a touch of purple just be careful to just use a touch, and look at the photo so you know where to add the shadows and where to use it to create shapes in the shadows.
Here I used the darker color to created all the little shapes in the shadow, leaving the original under painting as the lighter color. This is called negative painting, you are painting the area around the subject as opposed to paint the subject itself. Watercolorists use this technique all the time, it is a good one to know.
Lastly, to add the cracks and detail to the rocks I used my liner brush and a mix of blue, sienna and purple - no white this time - and enough water to make the paint the consistency of ink. As always, I looked at my photo to see where the cracks were and what directions they were going. these are not straight lines and you will notice when they go from the top to going down the side, they change directions, this is one of the ways to help give your rock dimension.
I did paint in the background so the rock would stand out but it is not necessary since this is only a study.
Next time we will be working on skies and maybe getting started on the final study of using value to create distance in a landscape. Keep painting and I will see you in class.