Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Thrown Paint?

Thrown Paint - What?

View from the Trail
9" x 12"

The watercolor painting above was painted using a "thrown paint" technique.  It is not as messy as it sounds.  This technique lets the placement of the paint determine how your subject will be painted to some extent.  You will need a subject of some sort in mind; i.e. beach scene with ocean waves, tree with foliage, such as the one above, etc.  You are only limited by your imagination.   

The areas of the painting to remain light are masked.  then the washes for the foliage are thrown on using a mop brush.    When the paint is dry, the masking fluid is removed and other shapes are painted to fit in with the shape of the thrown paint.  This is a fun technique that can result in some interesting paintings....one never knows what shape the thrown paint will take.

Supplies needed:
Watercolor paper (140 lb. - I like Arches)
Masking fluid and old brush or masking applicator
Brushes - mop brush, flat brush, round brush and liner brush
Tissues (Kleenex)
  • Sap Breen
  • Sepia
  • Yellow Ocher
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Ultramarine
  • Crimson
  • Paynes' Gray
Painting Instructions:
Before paint is applied to the paper, determine you basic  design.  In the painting above, I wanted a landscape with trees and a peek at the mountains in the distance and some areas of sky.

With the design in mind, made a preliminary sketch on the paper so that you will know what areas need to be masked out and what areas will receive the first step of thrown paint.    Allow the masking to dry.  Rushing this step will ultimately result in a messy painting. 

Note:  I masked tree trunks, root areas and sky.   Remember you cannot paint over the top of watercolor paint and expect coverage like one is able to do with acrylics.  Once the paint has been applied to the page, only minor lifting can be done with some paints.  Therefore, be certain to plan for enough white areas in your painting and other color light-colored areas. 

Now for the fun part - throwing paint!
Mix up washes of Sap Green, Sap Green and Yellow Ocher and Sepia.  Wet the painting area with clean water.  While still wet and using the mop brush,  "throw" on paint in the previously prepared colors to make foliage as well as areas of the ground around the lower section of the painting. 

The area on the paper you would like the paint to be applied can be controlled.    However, the way it flows and blends on the paper cannot be controlled.    Enjoy!

Relax, allow to dry!

Now the fun begins.  When the paint has dried, remove the masking fluid.  Masking fluid can be removed in several ways:
  • Rub gently with an eraser over the masking fluid.
  • Rub gently with a bare finger over the masking fluid.
  • Wrap your index finger with masking tape an tap your finger up and down and rub gently back and forth to remove the masking fluid.   The tape will pick up the masking fluid.   
Once the masking fluid has been removed, access the shape the paint has taken and move forward with your painting.   In my case, I "saw"  windswept trees along the trail with a peak of the mountains across the valley.   The next steps in the painting, are painted in the order that you would use for any other watercolor:  sky first and working down from top to bottom finishing with any details you would like to add.

If your painting turned out similar to mine, below are the steps to finishing the painting like mine.  Be careful to paint "around" the thrown paint areas so that your paint does not blend together and your edges stay sharp.  Remember, paint will flow only onto areas that are wet.  This is an important reason to wait until the paint is dry before proceeding. 

Use Cerulean Blue work from top to bottom painting wet on wet for the sky areas.  Don't forget to paint the patches of sky that  are located in the tree settings.  Use a tissue and dab off some of the areas of paint for clouds. 

Using different colors of paint for the sky can change the tone of the painting.  Deeper blues and grays can indicate storm clouds.  Adding yellow, red and orange can indicated a sunrise or sunset...your choice. 

Having recently returned from a trip to Alaska, I painted "higher elevation" mountains that can be seen from a distance on a trail.  It is early summer in my painting, so there is still some snow near the top.   Simply paint around areas of the mountain to indicate snow.  I used a purple made from Ultramarine and Crimson for my mountains and added a touch of Sap Green at the bottom edge to indicate trees at the lower elevation as seen from a distance.  Allow the mountain to dry.

Your foliage is already painted - thrown in from our first step!  Now you will need to paint the trunks and branches.

Wet the trunk of the tree and paint, one at a time, using a pale wash of Payne's Grey.  You want a very light gray shade.  While still wet, pull in some Sepia along either the left or right edge and alternate in places...deeper in shadows and a drop here and there for knots and other imperfections in the tree trunk.  Using the round brush, paint in some branches.  Refer to the photo above. 

The areas at the bottom of the tree trunks were already dark - thanks to the thrown paint in the first step.  However, the roots were masked.  Paint the roots with Paynes Gray and Sepia similar to the tree trunks.  Allow to dry. 

Using pale washes of Sepia, Paynes Gray and light green from your pallet, drop in the foreground colors. Allow the paint to blend.   When dry spatter a darker shade of the green and gray in the front area of the foreground. 

Look at your painting and determine what details, if any, you would like to add.  I used a liner brush and Sepia to paint in some lines on the tree trunks and in the root area. 

Sign your painting!  Congratulations!

Hope you enjoyed "throwing paint!"

Happy Painting!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Alaska Mountain Peaks

Alaska Mountain Peaks

My summer break from my blog has ended.

Summer is winding down and it is time to get back to "work!"  Although I have not been blogging during the summer months, I have been painting!    So, grab that paint brush and let's get back to work!

I did some traveling during the spring and summer and some of the paintings you will be seeing in upcoming blogs are landscapes of the beautiful scenery I enjoyed during my travels.  The painting above titled "Mountain Magic" was painted from a photo taken while traveling in Alaska.  The mountains are located in Denali National Park. 

Let's get started!  The painting above is an acrylic painted on an 12" x 16" canvas. 

Supplies needed:
Canvas (size of your choice)
Brushes - flat and round
Palette knife

Acrylic paint in the following colors:
  • White
  • Crimson
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Black
  • Sap Green
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna 
  • Yellow Ochre
Painting Instructions:
As a reminder, when painting with acrylics as opposed to watercolor, the paint is applied from dark to light.  In watercolor, one paints from light to dark. 

Using the painting above for reference, lightly sketch the mountains and the lake.  This is not detailed, but just enough to indicate where the foreground and background mountains are located as well as the lake shore. 

Sky and Lake:
Using Cerulean Blue and white start painting the sky moving from dark to light down to the tops of the mountains.   Start with blue and mix in white as you move down the canvas.  Clouds will be added later with a palette knife. 

And in reverse, paint the lake moving from light down to dark with the light area where the water meets the shore. 

Painting the mountains using aerial perspective........

What is aerial perspective?
Aerial perspective is the optical effect that the atmosphere has on objects viewed at a long distance.
For example, in the daytime, a mountain range will usually appear bluer and lighter as it gets further and further away from us.  The air in the atmosphere contains various impurities and these act as a filter stopping certain wavelengths of light reaching our eyes.  This gives the illusion of a change of color and value.  Cool colors like blues and greens get through the ‘filter’ of air more easily than the warm colors so mountains usually appear bluer.

5 points to remember
  1. As the distance between you and the mountain increases, the contrast between the mountain and its background (usually sky) decreases.
  2. The further away a mountain is the less detailed it becomes.
  3. The color becomes less and less saturated (intense) as it disappears into the distance and becomes closer to the background color. As objects are viewed at increasing distances the color change effect is more pronounced, and (if viewed in the day) progressively from purple to blue. This will give the illusion of depth.
  4. The elements most altered by aerial perspective are the dark tones, e.g: a dark green will change more dramatically than a light green.
  5. Warm and cool – Use the power of warm and colors to add even more depth. Add a red highlight in the foreground to bring your viewers gaze forward and to heighten the effect. Warm in the foreground cools in the background
Now, let's paint!
Paint the mountains with shades of brown with the brown bordering on purple.  So mixing a brown using red, blue and yellow will achieve the result you will need.  You can add more or less of each color until you achieve the shade you will need.  Paint the mountains working from the distant mountains to the ones on the shoreline with the lighter brown in the distance.  Add shadows by deepening the nooks and crevices.

Allow the mountains to dry before adding the snow. 

Snow on the mountains:
As you will note in the photo above, the snow is not just white.  Areas of highlights and shadow are painted by adding pink or blue "snow" to certain areas of the mountains. 

Using a palette knife drag white paint down the shape of the mountains referring to the photo above.  Do not completely cover the mountains with white, allow some of the brown paint to show through.

After the white paint has dried, use the palette knife again to add blue and pink highlights and shadows to the snow on the mountains.  Again, allow some of the white and brown of the mountain show through.

Dark and scrubby evergreens are found on the shoreline.  Paint these using a dark green shade which can be mixed from Sap Green and Ultramarine.  Also, prepare some lighter green by adding white and/or yellow.  I painted these using "dabbing" stokes with a small flat brush.

The base color of the lake was painted previously.  Now you will need to add reflections from the shoreline and the mountains.  Using the same colors used to the paint the mountains and the shoreline trees, dab these colors in the lake and use short horizontal strokes to blend with the paint already applied to the lake. 

Using a palette knife pull in several clouds in the sky; make your placement random.

Foreground Trees:
The tall foreground trees growing up from below the edge of the canvas are black spruce.    They are tall, but skinny trees and are typical of this cold climate.  The trees must adapt to the cold and must invest a lot of energy into building\ structural tissues (wood)  which gives them a competitive advantage for light.  Leaves/needles are sometimes put at a disadvantage where resources, such as warmth and nutrients are concerned.  Therefore, the trees are tall, but scrubby with shorter branches than trees in the lower 48 states where the temperatures are warmer and light is prevalent year around. 

I decided how many and where I wanted my trees and using a round brush with brown paint, I painted a vertical down where I wanted my trees.   Using my vertical line, I started painting my trees with a flat brush and dabbed and pulled the paint from the center trunk out to the tip of the branches.  Remember these trees are sparse with the branches short and angling downward.  Vary the placement of the branches.    I used various shades of green and brown paint to create the tree branches and trunk. 

After you have finished painting the trees, step back and look at your painting to see if any highlights need to be added.

Then, sign you painting!


Happy Painting!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Transfer a Drawing to Watercolor Paper

Transferred sketch 

Many changes may be needed to be made to a drawing before it is ready to be used for a painting.  Although one can draw directly onto watercolor paper, often it is better to make all the changes, erasures, etc. on sketch paper first and then transfer the final drawing onto watercolor paper using graphite transfer paper. 

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to transfer your line drawings onto watercolor paper.
Materials needed:
  • Watercolor paper and watercolor board
  • Masking tape
  • Kneaded Eraser/Pencils
  • Ruler
  • Sketch paper
  • Graphite Transfer paper
  • Your sketch
Attach your watercolor paper to your board first.

Tip:  Hold the sheet of paper up to a light and look for the brand's watermark. If it reads backwards, you are looking at the back of the paper.

Place your watercolor paper right side up on your board and attach the paper to your board by securing all four sides with masking tape.

Tip #2:  To prevent the masking tape from tearing your watercolor paper when it is removed from the board, do the following.  Before taping the watercolor paper to the board, tear off the amount of tape needed for one side of the paper.  Place the tape on your clothing (to pick up a little lint and remove some of the sticky) before taping the watercolor paper to the board.  Continue taping all 4 sides. 

Prepare your sketch.

Center your drawing over your watercolor paper and tape it at the upper left and the upper right corners. The tape will serve as hinges. Lift your drawing and lay your graphite transfer paper face-down on top of your watercolor paper. 

Using a light to medium pressure, trace a few lines of your drawing.  Lift the sketch and the transfer paper to test the pressure of your marks.  If  they are too dark, ease up a bit on the pressure exerted during the tracing.  Dark lines can be difficult to remove.  If they are too light, increase your pressure slightly.    Do not press down hard enough to indent the paper. 

Lift the sketch  and check to see if all lines were transferred.  Make certain that straight lines are straight.  These can be corrected directly on the watercolor paper using a ruler. 

When you have checked for accuracy, remove any smudges with the kneaded eraser. 

You are ready to paint!

Happy Painting!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Do I need to be able to actually draw? Drawing and Watercolor Painting

Drawing and Watercolor Painting

I am often presented with this question from people interested in painting:

 Can I paint without being able to draw?  I can’t draw, but I would still like to learn how to paint. 

My answer:  Yes AND No.  Let me explain in the following blog post.

Drawing is an essential part of all art. In watercolor painting, drawing is used as a plan in order to save the precious white areas of your painting.  Typically white paint is not used in watercolor painting.  White areas remain white because no paint is applied – white areas remain unpainted.    With a good plan and just a basic sketch you can create a successful painting. 

Drawing is a plan for your painting.  You will be painting the image; therefore, you will only need an outline of the areas and shapes you will be painting.  Shadows and shading will not be needed in the drawing; those areas will be painted.    You will want to outline the shadow area to remind you where to paint the dark and light, but the drawing is basically only for your use.  You will determine how much detail you will need to include to create your painting. 
Below is an example of simple design that did not require much actual drawing skills:

Drawing takes time and practice; and like all things, you will become more proficient the more you draw.  Basic drawing skills can be learned with a little practice.  All pictures can be broken down into their component shapes:  circles, squares, triangles, rectangles, lines.  It is simply the combination of these items that will make up your drawing.  Yes, it is that simple.   IF you are able to analyze your subject you will find the shapes mentioned above.    It is simply a matter of putting these shapes together to form the whole picture.  

Paintings can be abstract without  details of a photograph.  Basically, it will depend on how much detail you, the artist, are interested in putting into your painting. 

Below is an example of a painting that was drawn first on a piece of sketch paper and transferred:

Another question I am often asked regarding a watercolor painting:

 Do I draw directly on my watercolor paper?

 Answer:  Yes AND No

Draw directly on your painting if you can draw your subject without needing to excessively erase.

If you selected a subject that has a good deal of perspective, the drawing may be difficult to achieve without multiple erasures.  If that is the case, it is better to drawn on a piece of sketch paper and then transfer your drawing onto the watercolor paper. 

The main concern is to not “rough up” or indent the paper.  When this happens,  the paint will pool into any crevices or darken in areas that have been damaged by the eraser.   Thus, your erasure marks will be evident in your final painting. 

Happy Painting!









Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to Paint a Tile

Tile painting
How to Paint a Tile
The photo above is an example of painting a tile.  All sizes of tiles can be painted for multiple uses - from coasters to small tables, etc.  The photo below shows the steps involved in painting a tile.  All tiles regardless of the size or use will be painted using the same method. 
Step 1:
Determine the design you would like on your tile and cut a piece of sketch paper the size of the tile.  Wash tile with warm soapy water to remove any residue that might prevent the paint from adhering to the surface of the tile.   Allow to dry.
Step 2:
Transfer the pattern to the tile.  If the tile is dark in color, rub the back of your pattern with white chalk.  If the tile is light in color, you can use transfer paper.   Using a pencil, trace the design onto the tile.   
Step 3:
Using acrylic paint, paint the design on your tile.  Allow to dry completely.
Step 4:
Spray with a clear sealant to prevent the paint from wearing off. 
The above steps can be used in painting any tiles.  Tiles make great coasters and well as decorative kitchen trivets. 
Use your creativity!
Happy Painting!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beach Trail

Beach Trail
9" x 12"
A watercolor painting
Karen A. Cooke

Beach Trail
Temperatures are unusually warm in my part of the Unites States for this time of the year….these warmer temperatures make me think about the beach.  My watercolor painting, Beach Trail, was painted from a photo I took last year on vacation to Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.   The boardwalks over to the beach are usually always surrounded by sea oats and offer a glimpse of the ocean and the beach and hint of the fun to come!

Let’s get started with our painting!

 Materials required:

Watercolor paper – size of your choice.  I used a 9” x 12” piece of Arches 140 lb. cold pressed

 Paint brushes:   flat brush, round brush and liner brush for details (sizes of your choice)

Watercolor Paint:
Payne’s Gray
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue
Windsor Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Umber
Yellow Ochre
Sap Green
Hunter Green Dark

Painting Instructions:
Prepare your paper for painting by taping the paper to your watercolor board with masking tape.

 Sketch in the painting using the painting above as a guide.  It is important to use a ruler as you will want straight lines for the rails and walkway deck.  Also, sketch in the horizon.  It is not necessary to sketch in the sea oats.  These can be painted in “free hand” or they can be sketched in lightly after the other parts of the picture have been painted. 

The sky is painted first.  Wet the sky area with clean water.  Prepare the paint you plan to use for the sky.  Using the flat brush, start at the top and paint from top to bottom ending with the lightest color (almost white) where the sky meets the water.  While the sky is still wet, drop in some deeper intensity of the same color in various locations and use a tissue to remove some of the paint to create clouds.   Allow to dry.
Note:  The time of day and the weather conditions can be changed based on the paint colors used for the sky and for the water. 

Paint the water by wetting the paper first with clean water.  Starting at the horizon paint using a mix of blue and green paint in various shades and work down to the beach allowing the color to become much lighter where the beach and the water meet.  While the paint is still wet, use a tissue and a Q-tip and remove the paint to create white tips on the waves and near the shore.    Allow to dry.

Paint the sandy beach next using a pale wash of yellow ochre, add Payne’s Gray in the center section of the beach to indicate a tide line.  While the paint is still wet, drop in Sap Green and Burnt Umber in the area where the lower section of the sea oats are growing and are seen through the boardwalk rails.  Using another Q-tip, soften the beach area where it meets the water, removing enough paint to create the foam.  Be careful to now “scrub” the Q-tip across the paper with enough pressure to leave marks or rough up the paper.  Allow to dry. 

Paint the Boardwalk using Payne’s Gray, Sepia and Yellow Ochre.  Paint one section at a time and allow to dry before painting an adjoining section so the colors do not run from one section to another.  First, apply clean water to a section and drop in the paint colors allowing the colors to be lighter and darker in various spots on the same board.  Allow to dry.  Details/wood grain will be added later.

Sea Oats:
If you feel more comfortable sketching in the sea oats before you paint, do so using a light pencil mark.  Do not  indent the paper.   Prepare a wash of yellow ochre, burnt umber, and Sap Green.  Using these colors alternate painting the stalks of various heights using a round brush or a liner brush.  Refer to the painting for placement.  Using the edge of a flat brush, tap in the “oat” portion of the sea oats varying the paint colors.  Drop in Sap Green mixed with ultramarine blue in the right lower section of the rail and using a small piece of credit card pull up the grasses.  Add some Burnt Umber to add variety to the color and indicate shadows. 

Boardwalk Details:
Using a flat brush with the bristles spread, dry brush the wood grain using Payne’s Gray and Burnt Umber.  Add knot holes and other details with a liner brush. 

Sand Detail:
Cover with a paper towel all sections of the painting except for the beach.  Using a wash of Payne’s Gray and a flat brush, spatter the paint to add details to the sand.

Check your painting for any additional details you would like to add.  When satisfied, sign your painting!

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mountain Magic

Mountain Magic
Acrylic Painting
Karen A. Cooke

Mountain Magic

Some of my favorite painting subjects are landscapes from the mountains; either scenes with cabins or barns or simply the mountains themselves.    The painting above is an acrylic painted from a photo I snapped from one of the many overlooks in the park.    Before I start with my painting instructions, below is a little information regarding the park. 

 The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the TennesseeNorth Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a range of the Appalachian Mountains; this range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains.  The name is commonly shortened to the “Smokies.”  The Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934; and with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States.

 The name "Smoky" comes from the natural fog that often hangs over the mountains and presents as large smoke plumes from a distance. This fog is caused by the vegetation exhaling volatile organic compounds, chemicals that have a high vapor pressure and easily form vapors at normal temperature and pressure.

The “smoke” or “mountain magic” as I call it is shown in my painting above.  Depending on the weather and time of day, the tallest mountains can be mostly hidden in the fog.  When painting on location in the Smokies, I have seen puffs of this smoke rising from various areas in the part. 

Let’s get started with our painting!

Materials required:
Canvas panel,  I used a 6” x 12” stretched canvas
Paint brushes:   flat brush, round brush and liner brush for details (sizes of your choice)
Palette knife
Payne’s Gray
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Burnt Umber
Yellow Ochre
Sap Green

Painting Instructions:
Lightly sketch in the horizon, the basic shapes of the mountain peaks and the rocky section of the foreground.  Do not make your sketch detailed and do not sketch in the trees. 

Painting the Sky:
Using Cerulean Blue and white and a flat brush paint the sky lightening the sky as it touches the tops of the mountains.   Add clouds with a palette knife scattered across the sky. 

Painting the Mountains:
Add Ultramarine Blue and Crimson to the Cerulean Blue and White used for the sky to paint the mountains.  Note that the mountains farther away will be lighter than the ones in the foreground.  Deepen the color of the paint used as you move forward.  Add Sap Green to the shade for the foreground mountains.  Deepen the color to paint shadows and valleys.   

Painting the trees:
Using the edge of a flat brush paint in the shapes of the trees with a mix of Sap Green and Ultramarine Blue.  Vary the tree heights and allow the background color to show through the branches.    Make the trees further away darker.   Using Yellow Ocher and Sap Green add highlights to some of the tree branches.   Deepen the area at the bottom of the trees. 

Using a mix of Payne’s Gray, Burnt Umber and White, paint the foreground.  Vary the intensity and color to add shape and shadows.  Refer to the photo above. 

Painting the Foreground Scrub:
Using a round brush, dab in the shrub.  Allow the foreground to show through.  Add Yellow Ochre highlights.  Using the liner brush and brunt umber, add branches to the shrub. 

 Painting the Mist:

Using a mix of mostly white with a touch of Payne’s Gray and a palette knife, add the mist in various spots on the mountains. 

Review your painting for any details you would like to add.  Allow to dry and sign your painting!

Happy Painting!




Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Red Barn on a Winter Morn

Red Barn on a Winter Morn
9" x 12" Watercolor
Karen A. Cooke

Red Barn on a Winter Morn

I love painting barns and there was just something special about this one that stood out and begged to be painted.    I think the contrast with the white snow and the light blue sky makes this winter scene a cheerful one. 

 The most difficult part of this painting is the perspective.  With the many roof angles, getting the perspective correct is one of the most important components of your painting. 

How comfortable are you with your drawing skills?    If you feel as though you may require using an eraser multiple times to get the perspective correct, then I would suggest drawing the barn on a piece of sketch paper cut to the same size as the watercolor paper.    Multiple erasures and lines can damage watercolor paper and when paint is applied, it will pool in any indentations on the paper.   Multiple erasures may also “rough up” the paper which will show in the finished painting. 
Materials required:
Watercolor paper, size of your choice.  I used 9” x 12” paper. 
Sketch paper, same size of your watercolor paper, if needed
Paint brushes:   flat brush, round brush and liner brush for details
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Burnt Umber
  • VanDyke Brown
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Sap Green
  • Crimson
Small piece of plastic credit card
Masking fluid and old brush

Painting Instructions:
Drawn the barn on the watercolor paper or your sketch paper.  Do not prepare a detailed drawing; simply get the perspective correct and placement on your paper.   If you prepared a sketch first, transfer your sketch to the watercolor paper. 

How to transfer a sketch:

2 methods:

1.     Graphite transfer paper:  Place a piece of transfer paper between the drawing and the blank watercolor paper.  Lightly trace along the lines of your drawing.  Do not press hard enough to leave indentations in the watercolor paper. 

2.     The sketch:  Turn the sketch over and rub the back of the drawing with a pencil leaving dark pencil spaces along the lines of the drawing.  When all of the lines have been covered with heavy pencil marks, place the sketch on top of the watercolor paper with the pencil marks facing the watercolor paper. (You have made your own graphite paper.)   Lightly trace along the lines of your drawing on the front side of your sketch.  Do not press hard enough to leave indentations in the watercolor paper. 

Lightly sketch in the windows and doors.  Drawn the fence and lightly sketch the shape of the tree.  Do not draw individual limbs; these will be painted in.  Sketch in the horizon. 

In order to retain the white trim around the windows, doors and the fence, use the masking fluid and an old brush, apply the masking fluid and allow to dry. 

Painting the Sky and Background Trees:
Prepare a light wash of Cerulean Blue for the sky.   Working around the barn, wet the area down to the horizon.  The light sky color can be painted in the area where the tree will be painted in another step.  Apply the sky color using a flat brush.    Using a tissue remove some of the paint for cloud shapes.    Before the sky dries, drop in the trees at the horizon using   VanDyke Brown and Sap Green.   Let the colors diffuse.    Allow to dry.

Painting the Barn:
I painted the sides of the barn first; however, the roof can be painted first if you prefer.  Prepare a wash of Crimson with a small amount of VanDyke Brown and/or Brunt Umber to deepen the red.  Addition brown will be added for shadows as shown in the photo above.  When the primary color of the barn has dried, use a dry, flat brush with the bristles spread, and paint the wood grain and board lines of the barn with a deep shade of Crimson and VanDyke Brown.   Paint any broken areas of the wood with this same color (see bottom edge of right side of the barn). 

Using VanDyke Brown and Paynes’s Gray,  paint the open door showing the shadows inside the barn. 

Prepare a wash of Payne’s Gray for the inside of the windows.  This is where using the masking fluid definitely makes life easier!    Allow to dry and remove the masking fluid.    Add a light wash of Payne's Gray in various locations on the white window time for detail and shadows. 

Referring to the photo of the painting, paint the roof using a mix of Cerulean Blue along with a light wash of Payne’s Gray.  Either a flat brush or a round brush can be used.    Deepen the paint around the edge of the room and at the roof angles.  Using a wash of Payne’s Gray, paint the underside of the roof on the left side of the barn.    Allow to dry.

Painting the Fence:
Remove the masking fluid.  Although the fence is white, adding shadows to the fence will give it a more realistic look.  Refer to the photo above to see where to apply the gray paint.  Allow to dry.

Painting the tree:
Using a wash of VanDyke Brown and Burnt Umber, paint the trunk of the tree.  Wet the tree trunk before painting and deepen the color in places.   This is not detailed.  Using the same color paint and a round brush,  paint in the branches tapering from large to small.  Use a liner brush to pull in the smallest branches.    

Painting the Snow:
Wet the snow and using a pale wash of Payne’s Gray,  drop in the shadows.    Deepen the snow under the fence and around the posts.  Be certain to paint the shadows in the background at the tree line.  Allow this to dry.

Painting in the Grasses at the Fence:
Wet the area with clean water.  While still wet, drop in Brunt Umber and Yellow Ochre at the base of the plants and using the small piece of credit card, pull the paint up into the shape of the grasses.  Allow to dry.    Add a few springs of grass at the bottom of fence post with a liner brush. 

Painting the background fence:
Using the same paint as the tree, paint in the fence rails using a liner brush. 

Paint the road:
Using a pale wash of yellow ochre and Payne’s Gray, paint in the road.  Paint darker areas to indicate tire tracks. 

Review your painting for any details you would like to add.  Allow to dry and sign your painting!
Happy Painting!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Tiny Canvas Fun

"On the Wind"
2" x 2" acrylic painting on canvas
The painting above is an acrylic painted on a "tiny" canvas measuring 2 inches by 2 inches.  It is interesting to paint in small scale.   Most beginners that I teach feel that the smaller the painting, the easier it will be to paint.  That is not necessarily true. 
Fact: Different sizes of canvas have their own set of challenges. The amount of time it takes to paint a small painting may not vary from the amount of time it takes to paint a large one.    The painting may be tiny in size, but they don't only take minutes to complete.   AND, they require a steady hand and a sharp eye.

A large painting or a small one depends not only on the subject but the effect or feeling you want to convey. 

AND, to the artist, take under consideration the quote below:

"Can you believe it is not at all easier to draw a figure of about a foot high than to draw a small one? On the contrary, it is much more difficult." -- Van Gogh
So, if you want to paint "tiny," consider your subject.    The sailboat above was a good choice for a small painting.  None of the elements of the painting required much detail.  The effect I was after was the feeling of the windy sky  - not details of the boat, etc.

Here's how to paint a "tiny" seascape.

Materials required:
Small canvas (I chose a 2" x 2" canvas).  These are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased for around $1 each.
Paint brushes:  small flat, small round and liner brush for details
  • white
  • black
  • ultramarine blue
  • cerulean blue
  • cobalt blue
  • burnt umber
  • yellow ochre
  • crimson

Painting Instructions:
I used a pencil to lightly draw in the horizon and block in the land mass on the right.  I positioned the sailboat and lightly sketched in the boat. 

Starting at the top of the canvas and working down, paint in the sky using various shades of blue and white paint.  Add a little crimson to the blue as well as black/white mixed to a gray.  Swirl in the clouds to make the sky interesting and convey the message of a windy day.    Working around the sail lighten the sky color as it nears the horizon and meets the ocean. 

Painting with the same color of blues, deepen the shade as you paint the water from the horizon down to the front of the painting. 

Paint the land on the right using burnt umber, yellow ochre, black/gray.  Use the yellow ochre to indicate sunlight areas of the land.  Add a few rocks near the coastline in the water.  Vary your paint colors to show the contour of the land. 

I painted the sailboat last.  The cabin of the boat is a mix of white and black/gray.  Only basic details are painted; i.e. the windows and side of the boat.  The sail is the main feature of the boat which was painted with white and shaped by adding blue.  The mast was painted using the liner brush and white paint.  Remember the boat is not the most important aspect of this painting - the sky is. 

Tip:  Allow the paint to dry and place a small piece of masking tape from top to bottom on the edge of the sail where you need to paint the mast.  The masking tape will act as a guide for your paint - similar to a ruler.   Remove after painting your mast and you will have perfectly straight line. 

Allow to dry and sign your painting!

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"Beach Time" – Cape Hatteras

Beach Time – Cape Hatteras

The watercolor painting above is another one of the paintings from my watercolor journal done while on vacation at the Outer Banks.  Beach scenes lend themselves to watercolor medium since the paints in sky, the ocean and the beach blend together effortlessly in watercolor.

Various colors and shades of blue are used both in the water and the sky.  The intensity of the color changes based on the sky condition and water depth.

The sunnier the day, the lighter the intensity of the blue for the sky.  The deeper the water, the darker the intensity of the blue for the water.  Also, remember the water is not only blue, but contains shades of green.  The sky is not only blue, but may have various shades of red to purple to gray mixed in.    Both the sky and the water reflect the colors from each. 

Before, starting to paint, look at the sky and the water….really LOOK at the colors of which each are comprised and use those colors to your advantage in your painting.  The use of various shades and intensities of color will make your painting more interesting and realistic.

Materials Needed:

140 lb. watercolor paper* or watercolor journal
(I used a journal for these paintings, as I painted while on vacation.)
*Always prepare your paper by using masking tape to secure to a board.

Brushes:  Size of your choice
Round brush
½” flat brush
Liner or detail brush

  • Cerulean blue
  • Windsor Blue
  • Ultramarine blue
  • Payne’s Gray
  • Sap Green
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • VanDyke Brown

Kneaded Eraser

There is not much sketching to do on a seascape.  I lightly sketched in the horizon and the location where the beach met the water.  That was it!  Now, let’s get started painting!

Paint in your sky first using a wet on wet technique down to the horizon where the sky meets the water.  I used Cerulean Blue at the top section of sky and painted around the clouds.  Using a mix of Cerulean Blue and Windsor Blue paint the sky under the clouds dropping in a mix of crimson at the bottom of the clouds and allow to mix with the blue to make purple.  Allow the sky to become almost white at the horizon.  A touch of Payne’s gray can also be dropped in the base of the clouds.  Using gray and blues and a round brush, add shape to the clouds.   Use a paper towel to gently lift and shape some of the blue paint to further indicate clouds.  Allow to dry. 

Paint in the ocean using varying shades of Window Blue.  Painting across and down add a small amount of sap green leaving small areas of white to indicate waves.  Adding a touch of sap green to the blue helps separate the sky from the water, yet tie the two together.  Work your paint around the waves which are bigger where they hit the beach.  Using a round brush and light shades of paint, swirl the paint lightly in the waves to indicate movement.  Allow the ocean to dry.   

The small area of beach in the foreground is covered lightly in water.  Leave some areas white, but paint in varying shades of Yellow Ochre and while still wet use a flat brush and pull in shades of blue and green.  The deepest shade of Yellow Ochre is where the white waves meet the beach. 

If you have trouble painting around the waves and leaving areas of the waves white, masking fluid can be used to mask off the waves while painting the water and then removed after the paint has dried.  You will still need to go back and paint in some shadows in the waves to indicated movement.    This will not allow your painting to be as spontaneous and it will be less impressionistic.  I am an impressionistic painter so I prefer the look achieved when not using the masking fluid.

Check your painting for any details you may want to add.  When satisfied, sign your painting!

Congratulations and Happy Painting!