Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taking a Vacation? Don't Leave your paints at home!

Now that winter is behind us, vacations are just around the corner. Whether you take a day or two off and stay home or plan an exciting trip away from home, don't forget to take your love of watercolor painting with you. It is exciting to paint "on location," and you can make simple sketches and photos for later painting or take your paints with you and paint on your trip. Since space is usually limited when traveling, I pack a small pack of watercolor paper, a sketch book, two brushes (#6 round and a liner brush), a small plastic cup for water, watercolor pencils---and my digital camera. If you forget your camera, buy postcards! Postcards are an excellent way to get some good ideas for a painting.

I find that my choices are never limited for what I would like to paint. Make sketches and photos from several different angles. It is always a good idea to work from a selection of photos of the same subject if you are not painting on site.

The painting above was painted "on location" using watercolor pencils.

Watercolor tip:
You do not have to paint everything you see! Select a part of the scene that has a point of interest which attracts you. Remember a group looking at the same scene will see something different. This is your painting, make it yours by putting what you see and what you feel is important in the painting.

Enjoy your painting - whether at home or on a trip!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How to Paint Realistic Bricks

My painting above titled "Yellow Lilies and Country Bricks" is an excellent subject for learning how to paint realistic bricks.

The brick background is painted first. It will be easier to work on the bricks if the flowers and leaves are masked before painting to prevent any "brick" paint from accidentally getting on the flowers.

Use a small sponge to tap on the basic shape of your bricks and to add variations in color. A rectangular "kitchen" sponge is excellent for painting bricks. I usually cut one of the sponges into 4 pieces to make it easier to handle. The 90 degree angles at the corners make it an excellent sponge for painting the brick corners and the straight edges of the sponge are excellent for painting the straight sides of the bricks. I also use a small sea sponge as well to add some variety in the texture.

Bricks are found in many different colors and any combination of colors can be used for both the bricks and the lilies. However, in the above painting, I used the following paints for my bricks.

First, apply diluted Burnt Sienna to the sponge and tap it up and down on the paper. Return to the palette and pick up more concentrated pigment, transferring darker values to your bricks where you think it looks best. For variation in color, try tapping in hints of Sepia, Raw Umber, and Paynes' Gray.

Watercolor Tip:
It is tempting to cover all the paper on the first step, but you don't want to over the brick area. The brick will look more realistic if you apply several layers of varying colors, allowing one layer to dry before adding another layer of color.

You can create the look of cast shadows on the brick edge by underscoring with a fine irregular line of diluted Burnt Umber and Sepia or Indigo. Paint your shadows sparingly though, using a light touch and make your lines uneven. A brick's edges tend to be slightly uneven so the shadows should be also.

The grout comes next. Pre-wet the area of grout you wish to paint. On the point of your grout, pick up a tiny bit of diluted Sepia and Burnt Umber. Apply the pigment carefully just under the bricks. The color should diffuse downward. Add some imperfections in the bricks as well. When this area dries, spatter the surface lightly with Burnt Umber and Sepia.

Get your sketch complete and brick some walls!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter!

The painting above is of one of my favorite trees. At this Easter season, I wanted to share the Legend of the Dogwood with you.

Legend of the Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend has it that, at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross -- two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints -- brown with rust and stained with red -- and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

The pink dogwood is said to be blushing for shame because of the cruel purpose which it served in the Crucifixion.

The weeping dogwood further symbolized the sorrow.

The red dogwood, called the Cherokee, bears the color to remind us of the blood shed by our Savior.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Are you ready for a challenge?

My painting above, titled Village Lane, is a good challenge in mixing color. This painting is created using a limited palette of only two colors: Windsor Blue and Burnt Sienna. These two colors are nearly opposite on the color wheel and mixes of them will provide a wide range of colors including some good dark colors. When these darks are placed adjacent to light areas a wonderful sunlight effect can be achieved.

This painting is an exercise in mixing paint and producing a variety of colors. Light shades of the colors can be made by adding additional water. The amounts of each color mixed vary to produce browns, greens, deep blue-greens and orange shades.

Although it seems impossible to paint this picture using only two colors, mixing paints can indeed produce the colors used in this painting. It does take practice and mainly "trial and error" to find just the right shade to use.

If this is your first attempt at mixing colors, I would suggest that you use a large area of your palette and place Windsor Blue at one end and the Burnt Sienna at the other. The area between the two colors can be used as your mixing area. Be patient and don't give up. The colors are in, as the artist, must bring them out!