Saturday, October 24, 2015

What is Saturated Color?

You hear me talk incessantly about "saturated color" all the time in class.  I am often sure it is clear, but in fact it may not be.  What I mean by including saturated color in your work is applying the color in a loaded brush, pure way.  Often I see people load their brush timidly, then stretch that load out endlessly till it loses all it's brilliance and "saturation"  What I encourage you to do instead, is think of every brushstroke more singularly, more "sculpturally", so that it has it's own voice in a chorus of brushstrokes.  They then all sing separately together, to make a choir, a brighter painting.  I include a couple of paintings here that I did in class as demos to illustrate the point.  Again the subject is not the point, the brushstroke is.  Each painting is a landscape in itself, each stroke a voice in that country.  

" KOI Color" demonstration for the Fleet Landing class in Mayport, illustrating saturation of color and showing the idea that placing one color next to another creates the illusion of brightness.
 Another version of "Tropical Color" above.  I have done this painting many different ways over the years.  This one was done rapidly, and in a more layered way, starting with warm magenta and orange base sketch washes, and building brightness through layering in of saturated strokes one on top of another.


Above: A watercolor demo of the same idea, placing each color separately and graphically next each other to achieve a brighter mosaic or cloisonne effect.  
 
 The painting at the bottom of this post "Let your imagination fly" is an oil painting by Emma Lee.  I teach the same lesson in oils, acrylics or watercolors.  She was entering this painting in a contest and as the teacher I was proud to show her work off here!



Friday, October 16, 2015

Getting the bounced light !

The watercolor lesson in class yesterday's Reddi Arts class, was to contrast the lights against the half light and bounced light in the shadows.  This is illustrated (not that well I must admit) in the watercolor below (it's a tad overworked and tight).  It is a particularly difficult lesson, and you will have to practice a lot with blue and purple glazes over the yellows to get it right, without overworking it of course.  We determined having the right small to large square brushes, is particularly helpful in this type of work. Try to practice this till you get loose with the work.  The tendency is to "render" rather than get the impression of the place.  Review Sargent's watercolors of Venice to see the better way to go here.  He was the master to emulate.
Anyway, below is the progression of shots from sketch to final touch-ups (which I did at home) taken during this exercise.  I hope you will find them helpful!





Sunday, October 11, 2015

Feeling is the Point

Capture The Feeling
In both of the watercolors here you see the background is an important player in the "atmosphere" or mood of the piece.  Feeling is a big part of any successful picture.  Getting the background right and utilizing the wet into wet techniques accurately are the real challenge in the opportunity presented by this challenge.  Master this technique and you will go a long way to achieving your choice and any variety of moods in future work.  This could work with stormy days, moonlit nights etc.
In the "Olympic Seashore Fantasy" I used the masking fluid to mask off parts of the driftwood drawing, but what is unique here is that I left bits of the lines in the wood exposed when applying the mask so the background wash colorized ( naturally uneven, good!) the lines in a random way that is harder to achieve painting detail with a brush in the classic way.

Above: "Olympic Seashore Fantasy"- 14" X 20" Watercolor on Arches Watercolor paper.  
In the background of the top piece I was going for a cooler feel, as in the great northwest, and in the bottom piece a more tropical warm look in the mist using more pink mixed with yellow to make a warm orange. 


Above: "Florida Riverbank Fantasy"- 14" X 20" Watercolor on Arches Watercolor paper.  
Remember with reflections, the cosmic principle applies, "as above so below"! Let the watercolor do the heavy lifting using the "wicking" techniques I rail on about salt and scraping effects.
Homework:  George Inness was the master of oil paintings with great atmospheric effect.  Explore in Google his work for ideas, then try something like it in watercolor, acrylic or oils!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Taking a Watercolor theme to acrylic.
Demo : Color over Water" 18" X 36"  Acrylic on canvas 


In my Fleet Landing acrylic class I was trying to help the class tap into their inner poet, going with the flow, while exploring painting technique at the same time. In my example I was also showing how to do the roses using a saran wrap technique to create texture.  The green part was using a watercolor wash technique while the right side I added heavier paint to create texture as a base for transparent washes.  Editing with opaque compliments did the rest, trying to keep the color strong and saturated. I like the colors to be fresh bright and luminous. It was based on the watercolor below.

A class demo at Reddi Arts "Pine Island Revisited",  14"X 20" Watercolor on paper.

This piece was a bit different for me.  Normally I would start the sky wash, then while the paper is wet, work in the trees and reflections slowly.  In this one, I did the sky and water first, blew dry the paper (thoroughly), then drew on the tree design in pencil and masked the background negative space around the trees.  This process will cause the color to lift a bit (a lot) so you can put the sky color on richly.  In the upper right you can see I left the sky open (during the masking procedure) to add a bit of purple to the sky there.  The idea here is to work loosely inside the tree design to let the color intermix freely in a fractal way.  I added salt after the color was applied in trees and water reflections. 
It takes a long time for the salt to dry so take your time before removing salt from the surface so as not to spread color around the paper.  When I was certain everything was dry I removed the masking fluid to see what I had.   I had to add color that was lost in the sky as a glaze wash where needed.  Finally I added touch ups and tree details such as branches.  I like the sculptural feeling, the calligraphy the negative space masking creates.  I would say this was a successful piece! 

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I love watching my kids in oil painting class work .  This one in particular is very talented.  I like the way she just goes at it directly and with out too much timidity.  She doubts herself from time to time, but in a healthy self analyzing corrective way.  Here she is at 8 working on her cat painting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Tale of Two Paintings, wet into wet and glaze over dry masked design!
It's been awhile since I have posted on this blog.  I had gotten distracted by the winds of a changing economic downturn and my many new responsibilities.  This particular post is still related to classes that I teach but soon I will start introducing other material on fine art in general and concepts I am exploring to date.
This image below, is one I did in a class recently for watercolor.  I particularly liked the poetic quality it has.  I was trying to demonstrate two different ways to produce this soft image, one using wet into wet watercolor technique (left) and the other using masking fluid first for the tree shapes then glazing wet into wet washes right over that (after the initial color had dried of course, a bit different approach)!