Posts Tagged ‘watercolor’

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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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Workshop Demonstrations

September 11, 2018

Demo #1 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 8″ x 12″

Demo #2 – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 8″ x 12″

Demonstration paintings from a recent watercolor workshop at the Peninsula School of Art. The strategy is to connect areas of the painting to help create unity especially in and with the subordinate shapes.

#1 – started with the sky and moved directly into the background trees – starting at the left and increasing the intensity and vibrancy of the trees as I moved to the right. Then moved to allow these colors to strategically flow into the foreground. After allowing the initial wash to dry thoroughly, I utilized negative painting techniques to separate and emphasize subjects.

#2 – I began with the background trees, moving from the left. As I worked the trees, I utilized this same wash to indicate the shadows of the shed and its shadow.

Often, the initial wash is sufficient to define the important elements and lessen the need for a lot of cluttering details.

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Sunspot and Klenkes

December 19, 2017

Sunspot Along German Road – Watercolor on Arches 140# CP – 12″ x 16″

Preparing fresh images for an upcoming watercolor workshop, I played with these two designs.

Sunspot Along German Road, is a follow up to an oil painting. The work is from sketches made during a trip into Door County Wisconsin.

Klenke’s is worked from a reference photo. The site is a well known spot in Ellison Bay Wisconsin.

Klenke’s -Watercolor on Canson 140# CP – 9″ x 12″

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Klenke’s Garage

July 7, 2017

Klenke’s Garage – Oil on Oil Primed Canvas – 8″ x 10″

Due to inclement weather, I opted to work in the studio. I worked with reference photos from trips to Door County. None of the photos gave me an uncluttered view. Each photo of this old structure had elements which obstructed the view I wanted. But I was able to utilize portions from several photos to create the neater version pictured above.

Enjoyed that exercise enough that I decided to repaint the design in watercolor as pictured below.

Klehnke’s – Watercolor on 140# CP – 9″ x 12″

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October Flair

June 19, 2014
October Flair; Watercolor on Daler-Rowney140# each 10" x 14"

October Flair; Watercolor on Daler-Rowney140# each 10″ x 14″

To help my watercolor students understand the idea of building their paintings, I occasionally create these “step-paintings”. Most students can visualize how they want their finished painting to look but often end up with rather mechanical and stiff paintings which often lack harmony and a sense of playfulness.

The first, or Outline stage (top illustration) is created in a technique which I refer to as “splash”. This is a manner of loosely applying colors in way that allows the colors to flow into each other. Although all of the major elements are clearly sketched out before painting begins, all lines become suggestions and not barriers. That is, I allow the yellows and oranges from the tree foliage to flow into the green grass, if it wants to. This latitude allows for interesting opportunities and will aid in adding harmony to the painting.

After the “Outline” stage has an opportunity to dry, I proceed to the “Refine” and “Define ” stages to complete the painting as seen at the bottom of the watercolor paper.