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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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Between the Fields to Home

March 10, 2019

Between the Fields to Home – Oil on Canvas – 24″ x 36″

Mid-October my wife had a day off of school. We decided to venture to an apple orchard  that was over in the neighboring county. Rather than take the normal, direct route, I opted to get adventurous and take back roads. These type of adventures can uncover opportunities, and this day was no exception. As we approached a main road, I witnessed a good design in the fields across the way. I made note of it and we continued on to the orchard.

The trip to the orchard was a bust. As we neared the orchard, we realized that because of the holiday, there were a lot families at the orchard. Worse yet, because of rains over the weekend, the parking lots were mud swamps.

The next weekend I ventured back to capture a plein air painting of this scene. If not for the discovery a few days earlier, I most certainly would have passed this site. Mid-October morn. Slight clouds and humid, the scene was blurred (see below) I also made a mistake by utilizing a gray primed panel for the painting. Difficult start. As I worked the painting, things went well until thick cloud cover rolled in and completely dulled the colors of the landscape. Unfortunately, the plein air painting accurately captured that dullness.

Reference photo taken at the start of my plein air painting

I was tempted to wipe the painting off of the panel, before I left the site, but decided to wait. Back home, I felt that, while the plein air painting was not good, the design had bones. Rather than tamper with the plein air painting, I used it as a reference to create this larger studio work.

I still have the plein air piece and plan to play with it to see what happens.

 

 

 

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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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Clouds Over Limestone Road

March 1, 2019

Clouds Over Limestone Road – Oil on Canvas – 12″ x 12″

Fall of 2017, I did a small plein air painting of this scene. The roll of the road along this farm is what caught my attention. The original painting stopped just above the trees. Soon after I completed the plein air work, one of the galleries requested this work for display. Unfortunately, the work sat at the gallery never to find an owner.

Rise on Limestone Road – Plein Air – Oil on Linen Panel – 8″ x 10″

I retrieved the original work late summer. I left the work on display in my studio where I could see it. I thought that the design might be interesting if I played with a more dramatic sky. I am currently working on a larger version of this for the galleries and have already thought up another idea for this design. More to come.

 

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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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East Field at Beaver Creek

February 27, 2019

East Field at Beaver Creek – Plein Air finished in Studio Oil on Canvas – 16″ x 20″

Entering the property at Beaver Creek, you drive about 100 yards through thick woods. As you clear the woods, the barn comes into view. This morning, as I cleared the woods, I pulled onto the tall thick grasses at the edge of the bean field. I trudged through the grasses, raising a few mosquitoes, and found this view. I set up my equipment and painted.

What I have identified as a red barn has actually been converted to a home and workshop for a ceramicist. The current structure has dark brown siding and numerous windows. You can still see indications of the original structure. I felt that this design would read better as a red barn. A bit traditional, but helps avoid viewer confusion.

 

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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.