Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Dream that was Florida

Conversations with Monet and Poplars on the Banks of the Epte (1891) in Watercolor

 Poplars on the Banks of the Epte (1891)
In my watercolor classes I find when working from photos, students are too caught up in the details of the photo. So by working from
 Poplars on the Banks of the Epte, we can have a "conversation" with Monet to see how he handles trees, light, water and atmosphere. 

Conversations With Monet But In Waterolor!

Monet's iconic painting "Nymphaes"  or Water Lilies, was a great source of inspirational material for my recent watercolor class.  I figured he is the quintessential impressionist, and in working in watercolor it would help the class loosen up their strokes.  One of the problems I find students have with photos , is trying too slavishly to copy the details of the subject, rather than concentrating on the light , mood , and atmosphere of the place.  A sense of poetry and space get lost in that, thus the emotional involvement in the painting.
Here are the steps I used to arrive at my first example.
 1. First I used a fan brush and laid the masking fluid in with no pencil drawing necessary,.  Just use the corner of the fan brush , stay loose!

  • 2. After the Windsor Newton masking fluid is placed and dried, I wash over the paper          with cadmium yellow in the center and progress to the outsides adding purples , two       purples, one leaning blue, one leaning red. 
  •  3. Then I start increasing wet into wet washes of other colors such as chrome green,     cerulean or horizon blues blue greens, burnt sienna's, letting them intermix.  

  • 4. I started adding more and more color, then finally salt for a bit of texture, but not everywhere.

5. Then I wait till it dries, pat up excess paint from the surface of the masking fluid, and rub off the mask with a rubber cement eraser.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Humble Coffee Mug

For beginners, after I run through the basics of color wheels and value scales etc.  I like to do a coffee mug, something close to home!  The elipses, the reflections, the neutrals and gray scales are all there.  The rich coffee color can be more colorful than people realize.  Here is a demo I recently did too illustrate that point.
Of course the sketch can be a good start.  I have another approach with out the sketch but this can be scary for beginners.

Poetic Bird Study

Artists often like to render the bird very accurately like a Basil Ede,
or Audubon, but there is a place for a looser interpretation of the magnificent bird, 
without obsessing over every single detail, which can tend to leave the painting
looking a bit stiff. 
 This watercolor demo was done at Reddi Arts  from a photo my sister in law took at a nearby pond. 
 In this case I started with the drawing, just the necessary clues, keeping it light, use a kneaded eraser for erasing.

1. I start laying in preliminary washes in the lightest areas building detail slowly.

 2. Watch out for the birds legs they can get too big or too small easily.  Egret legs are gangley and it doesn't take much to make them look worse!

3. Build detail slowly with light glazes alternating purples and blues for interesting combinations.

4. Once I have most of the bird structure worked out I move to the background, again,
working the lightest grasses and pond muck in neutrals first.

5. Start adding greens lightest first moving to dark colors last, allowing 
wicking to happen on it's own.  Let the water do the work!  My Mantra!

6. I find it's best to do the dark colors carefully , less is usually more in areas such as grasses.  Drawing every blade of grass should only be done if you want to do an Audubon style rendering. 
A halfway rendered clump of grass can just look uncommitted, go a little abstract there, since 
the bird is the focal point.  I did the background in the upper area in deep purples and added salt.

7. I try to keep the water shadow reflection multicolored by keeping it as one unit, one color bleeding into another. Then I added salt.  Foreground can have just enough detail to get the point across.
Enjoy the closeup !

Taking on Complexity

Taking on a complex subject such as this Kingsley Plantation Inlet photo reference, can be daunting.  I choose to look at it as an abstract, simplifying light and dark sections.  I do this by separating warms from cools, into families of warm yellows , warm and cool greens etc.

1. Start the lightest yellows first, then build the range of greens into the wet washes to get the wicking effects to add texture.
2. Build detail slowly with varieties of fun color mixes, still maintaining the wicking approach to get extra "on the paper color mixes".

3. Work your way to the cooler color mixes in the picture, purples and greens etc.

4. Keep moving into the cools getting bluer and purple mixes 

5. Add salt into rich wet color mixes (kosher coarse grain works for me) 
6. After the salt water dries, brush salt off with a palette knife gently, and add details if necessary:


Monday, March 20, 2017

Reddi Arts Watercolor Demonstration for a Purple Iris

Flowers challenge the water colorist because they are so subtle in the way they shift colors while also exhibiting brilliant color variety. 

If not done skillfully a white flower that has yellow tones in the center can 
end up looking like a yellow flower in the painting.  Striations can end up
looking like weird streaks.  Here is my demonstration of a purple iris with 
water droplets on the petals. Enjoy!