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From the Classroom – Trees and Field

April 10, 2019

I have a student who likes to utilize pen & ink with watercolor. This student does all of his pen & ink work first and then carefully applies his controlled washes of watercolor so as not to disturb or bleed the ink.

Trees and Field in Two Steps – Holbein Watercolor on Canson 140# – 3″ x 5″

I prepared two sketches for this weeks demonstration. On the first, I did the scene using watercolor in two steps. First applying a general wash, then adding a few brief notes of shadows. On the second sketch, I applied a very loose, wild application of watercolor. I allowed and even encouraged the washes to flow into each other. The foreground and background trees bleed into the sky. The background trees to the right side are a mess. But that’s okay. After this wash was dried, thanks to the aid of a student with a hair dryer, I applied a few broken lines in pen & ink to define the objects in the scene. This process keeps the design looking like a watercolor and relieves some of the stress (you can go outside the lines).

Field and Trees Pen and Ink Overlay – Holbein Watercolor with Sakura Micron Pen on Canson 140# – 3″ x 5″

Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law occurred.The student for whom this demonstration applied was ill and not in class. I shall have to do this exercise again.

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From the Classroom – Farm House and Field

April 9, 2019

Farm House Reference Photo

Working with the advanced watercolor students on atmospheric perspective and being selective / creative with photo references. Rather than be faithful to the actual photograph, I decided that the farm house was my main inspiration and decided to place a barn structure behind the house. I decided to improvise on the fields edge sweeping across the front.

Drawings and Value Sketch

With the value study completed, I had a fair idea of where I was going to go with this design. The students are starting to appreciate these value sketches as a way to anticipate what I am going to do in painting the design.

Farm House and Field Demo – Holbein Watercolor on Canson 140# – 3″ x 5″

The fun thing about doing these very fast (less than five minutes) paintings, is that I often end up with watercolor results for which I had not planned, yet am able to appreciate and utilize. Sometimes we plan for our watercolors to be too tight and we fail to allow our watercolors to be watercolor. That is, allow and even encourage some of the wild mingling’s and results which we can only obtain with watercolor.

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Field View

April 4, 2019

Field View – Oil on Oil Primed Canvas Panel – 8″ x 16″

Still on “doggie hospice” as our dog, Clawed Monet recovers from illness, I am relegated to painting carefully (so as not to stain or damage the flooring) in our house (that is, not in the studio). Trying to paint faster and looser, I came up with this design. I used the barn design as a lesson in our Advanced Watercolor class and played with a wider horizontal format. Put myself in a good mindset and painted this as if I was working en plein air.

When I started the painting, I had decent light from outside. Unfortunately,  it got overcast as I was painting. Forged ahead and had this work thoroughly blocked in within about twenty minutes. I was working adjustments as my light source changed. Stopped at a good time. Came back the next day, under more favorable lighting conditions, and made a few minor adjustments. I worked to keep from overworking this aiming to maintain the fresh feeling of the brushstrokes.

Shortly after completing this work, one of the galleries contacted me. They wanted this work for their gallery display. The work has just been delivered to them. Hopefully, the work does not return to (i.e. I hope that the gallery finds a new owner for this work).

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From the Classroom – Bucket with Apples

April 1, 2019

Quick demonstrations for my Open Oil Studio students. Too many students spend too much time trying to get each and every stroke “perfect”. Unlike watercolors or acrylics, oil paints allow manipulation long after being applied to the canvas.

Bucket with Apples – Direct Painting – Oil on Gessoed Paper – 8″ x 6″

After using my palette knife to create some piles of colors, I applied paint with the intention of getting as much area covered as quickly as possible. I also aimed to minimize “fiddling” with the strokes until I had color applied to the entire design. This particular design required less than seven minutes to apply this initial block in.

I did add some  Bucket with Apples – Tone and Remove – Oil on Gessoed Paper – 8″ x 6″

In this second demonstration, I applied a very fast, loose, thin application of burnt sienna to tone the canvas. While this initial application was wet, I utilized a paper towel and mineral spirits to draw the design onto the canvas by removing some of the burnt sienna. Again, a very easy way to quickly establish the design and enable students to spend time refining their paintings rather than laboring over with their works. In this example, after I had the initial design mapped out, I did add some dark tones to help the shadowed areas and a little bit of white to help establish the light on the table top.

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From the Classroom – Boone Farm

March 27, 2019

Often, students mindlessly copy photographs. Too often they end up with drab, busy, boring paintings of uninspired photos. I work with the advanced students to find more opportunities within a reference photo. I implore the students not to just copy the photo. One exercise we do is to take a photo and find at least six good design options within the reference photo. Extra credit given to the student that creates the most good thumbnail sketches of good design options. (I will cover this exercise in another post).

This week, I utilized a photo reference of a local farm. The prior week, one student needed help understanding how to paint the shape of a cylinder. Another had a question concerning shadows and one other student required help understanding metal and rust.

Boone County Farm

I utilized the sketch and value study of a grain bin to demonstrate cylinder, shadow and rust. I opted to set this as a winter scene to stay truer to the reference photo. Side note, they also got interested in the atmospheric perspective I implemented.

Boone Farm Grain Bin Sketch and Value Study

This design highlighting the barn allowed me to demonstrate cylinder (the silo), shadows, and distant trees. Placed this design in a summer setting to help them imagine another option to a reference photo (that is, why does it have to be winter?).

Boone Barn Sketch and Value Study

Discussion then led to these two studies. Each one was created in less than five minutes. They are small but quickly illustrated the points and allowed the students to quickly get to work on their own designs.

Corn Crib Demo – on Canson 140# CP

Boone Barn Demo – Watercolor on Canson 140# CP.

 

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Along Limestone Road

March 25, 2019

Along Limestone Road – Oil on Canvas – 36″ x 36″

I used a plein air sketch and the small painting titled, Clouds Over Limestone, to create this work. The sky proved to be more tricky than I had anticipated. The task of constantly stepping away from the painting to examine the progress and judiciously adjust as necessary, is especially important when working the larger canvases. This work is on its way to a gallery. Wish us luck.

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From the Classroom – Apple and Bottle

March 15, 2019

 

Apple and Blue Bottle – Watercolor on Canson 140# CP

This was a demonstration for my students. Starting from the left side of the apple, moving directly into the bottle. As I shifted colors, I have a small window of time to make adjustments to the intensity of the pigments in anticipation of the value shift as the brushwork dries. I finished by adding the dark background being careful to  touch the apple and bottle only where it could serve a purpose to my design.

For my advanced students it was a demonstration of creating an initial wash which could stand on its own or, at the very least, require a minimal amount of detail. For my beginning students, it was created to make a connection to the color combination exercises from their color charts. To aid their understanding of the simple beauty that can occur by adding adding different colors, directly on the paper, while wet, to achieve an effect distinct to watercolor.

I refer to this type of paint application as “wet-in-wet-on-dry”. If you saw it created, it would also illustrate how the paint application continues to evolve until the paper and paint are completely dry. Though often the uncontrolled finish can be extremely dynamic, energetic and pleasingly exciting, as this wash is.