Archive for the ‘Watercolor’ Category

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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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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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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.

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From the Classroom – Advanced Watercolor – Corn Crib

March 14, 2019

This weeks challenge was based upon the following rather drab photo reference.

Corn Crib

I then forwarded a few thumbnail options for their review.

Corn Crib Thumbnail Sketches

I intentionally left these sketches undefined. That is, with one exception, there is no indication of shadows. I am challenging my students to use their imaginations to locate photo references which will enable them to paint the scene as they would like to see it. Decisions such as what direction is the sun (left, right, background)? Season (spring, summer, early autumn, winter)? Color of structure? Additional buildings or components to augment their design?

Corn Crib Value Sketch

I created a very fast watercolor sketch to help them understand an option and witness the paint application. This watercolor was completed within five minutes while explaining my thoughts and paint applications to my students.

Corn Crib – Watercolor on Canson 140# CP 4″ x 6″

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Summer 2019 Workshops

March 2, 2019

My Rock Valley students have inquired about painting workshops for this summer. Unfortunately, the classroom and facility we would prefer to utilize is not available until August. So, we are looking to provide the following;

Basket of Blossoms 2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP Paper – 12″ x 9″

August 5, 6 and 7

Dynamics of Shadows and Light: A Bolder Approach to Watercolor

Gain insight to energize your watercolors by creative, strategic and decisive utilization of exaggerated light and shadows. Demonstrations and discussions will focus on planning your design and composition as well as sparking your imagination. Discover methods for pushing negative space to yield positive results in your artwork. Exercises will concentrate on developing your creativity and daring to create more dynamic paintings.  Students should already be familiar with basic watercolor techniques. In addition to your supplies, please bring a couple sheets of Arches 140# CP paper and a few reference photos with subjects of interest to the student. Students will have the opportunity to work independently on their own paintings.

Patti’s Hen House – Plein Air – Oil on Linen Panel – 12″ x 16″

August 12, 13 and 14

Ideas for Creative Studio Painting in Oil and Acrylic Painting

Expand your ability to translate and capture imagery on canvas as you strengthen your observational skills, build a reliable process for planning and develop your unique voice. This workshop will help you to identify a focus for creating your art and developing a pattern for success. Demonstrations and discussions will focus on planning your design and composition as well as sparking your imagination. This workshop requires basic experience and training in oil or acrylic. Students should be competent with the techniques and tools of the medium, developed drawing and design skills and the ability to work independently.

Assuming that the weather cooperates, I plan to do a couple outdoor demonstrations at the facility.

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From the Classroom Watercolor Color Charts

February 28, 2019

Most of the students enrolled in my Beginners – Level 1 class have little or no experience with watercolor. Others have had some experience, though not necessarily positive. To get the students started, our first assignment is to create a color chart. I find it interesting that the students that need the color chart experience the least, enjoy the assignment the most. Upon completion of the chart, the students will have familiarized themselves with the Arches 140# Cold Press paper, the twelve basic colors of our palette and the feel of their watercolor brushes.

Color Chart

Seems that the most stressful part of the assignment is drafting the chart onto a full sheet of watercolor paper. After that task is completed, we spend a two hour class session playing on the left half of our charts. The left side will help the student understand how to take the paint from intense application to a wisp of pigment. Some students are heavier with the paint. Others are a bit more timid. They also learn how to apply a glaze of pigment to alter a prior application of color. This also involves learning some of the strategy and patience required with watercolor.

Values

Color Glaze

The second week of the color chart is spent on the right side of the chart where we play with color combinations. This exercise challenges them to apply strong pigment from dry paper onto a moistened section of the Arches paper and then introducing a second pigment into the mix. There are two parts to this challenge. Where the colors meet, part is to be left butting up against each other without mixing and then delicately mixing the colors on the other end of the meeting. This exercise allows students to experience how the colors work with and against each other. They will generate understanding as how to apply more interesting applications of colors when we start creating paintings. It also teaches them to be swift and brief with some color combinations to avoid “mud”.

Color Combinations

Once in awhile, a student will squawk that they already have a color chart which they purchased at the art supply store and they don’t feel that they should have to do this exercise. Or they may offer that I should just print copies of these charts and not bother them with this exercise. My immediate reply is to challenge them. By the time the students have finished these charts they learn more than they think they did. They gain familiarity with the feel of the paper, the paints and the brushes. They learn about the sedimentary characteristics of some pigments and the high fluidity of others. They learn the colors. They learn how the pigments can work with each other to yield more exciting opportunities than just buying more tubes of paint.

As each student has their own “isms”, observing and guiding the students through these charts enables me to help them with their paintings as they move on to our other painting classes.

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From the Classroom Advanced Watercolor – Lanark Farm

February 26, 2019

This week, I utilized the following reference photo for our watercolor landscape challenge.

Lanark Farm

I uncovered more than two dozen design possibilities. Winnowing the potentials to just a few compositions for the students.

Thumbnail and Value Sketch for Lanark farm

Using a few loose thumbnail sketches for ideas and a value sketch, I did a quick watercolor demonstration. The first demonstration is a design which links the building shadows to create an interesting shape to hold the composition together. Notice the light and lively application of colors to keep the shadows from being boring. The second demonstration took the first demo to another level by introducing the concept of atmospheric perspective to the barn in the background to enhance and give a better feeling of depth to the design.

Quick Watercolor Demos

After these demos were painted, I answered additional questions and then let the artists begin their versions of this idea.

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From the Classroom Advanced Watercolor – New Strategy

February 24, 2019

Basket of Blossoms 2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP Paper – 12″ x 9″

In the on-going challenge to sate the desire my advanced students have to learn more, I endeavor to move them from their comfort zone.

My advanced students are a varied mixture of experiences. Some are still working, others are retired. Some prefer Still Life, others prefer Landscapes. They each have their own level of understanding and each one has their own unique style. Some allow watercolor to be watercolor awhile others aim to tightly control the medium. The community interaction is enjoyable while their desire to learn more makes it a challenge for me to find new ways to help each one meet their next plateau.

I have attempted to help students understand how to work with reference photos. When your eyes are trained, you should be able to find at least six possible compositions in any photograph. This proves to be a challenge as too often the students will faithfully copy the reference photo which I offer as the idea of the week.

I am using a new approach this semester. The students will receive thumbnail sketches of at least six possible designs. They will not see the reference photo until we meet for class. It is their challenge to utilize their imagination and decide what kind of a scene they will paint. Season, time of day, colors, etc. It is recommended that they gather references to help them paint the scene in class.

At the start of class, I reveal the reference photo, all of the thumbnail sketches in my Strathmore Sketchbook and a four value marker sketch of one of the designs. I will do a quick, loose watercolor demonstration to help the students visualize a bright, lively start to their watercolor paintings. For those students interested, I will answer questions and offer ideas to help them learn how to see more in their reference photos.

 

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Barn at Beaver Creek

October 9, 2018

Barn at Beaver Creek – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 9″ x 12″

Another play with watercolors. Used artist prerogative on this. This structure used to be a barn. Several years ago it was converted to a ceramics workshop and display room on the ground level and a home on the upper level. The front has a lot of windows. The barn has been allowed to age to dark brownish gray patina. Rather than paint this painting in its current state, I wanted this structure to look barn-ish.

I could see the indications of the former sliding door entrance to the barn and the opening for the hay loft. I also felt that changing the color to something more indicative of a barn would help.

Not sure that the owner was very excited with my choices, but I am.