Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sometimes Less is More

Sometimes less is more, especially in a painting like the one above.

Color: I used a muted palette and only two compatible colors to set the tone of this old "momma dog" looking forlornly at the viewer.

Subject Matter: The main objects in the painting are the dog and the doghouse...everything else is just background.

Space: When I first started painting, I thought I had to fill in every space on the paper...the sky, the grass, everything. However, leaving empty spaces sometimes keeps the eye on the most important part of the painting. More detail would simply be clutter and detract from the painting.

When painting, remember sometimes less is more!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reflections......and Memories!

The painting above, titled "Breakfast Anyone?" is a good illustration of reflections; and, it brings back memories to me of breakfast at home. We had a coffee pot like this one when I was growing up and when I see one of these coffee pots, I can smell coffee! I can't remember the last time I saw a coffee pot like this any place other than a yard sale. But, you can have one of these coffee pots and still go to Starbucks by painting one like this.

Reflections in watercolor paintings are easy to achieve by simply laying in stripes or sections of color along with the color of the object. Reflections are found most often in water, skies, and shiny objects.

Below are instructions for painting reflections in a shiny coffee pot.
1. Sketch the coffee pot.
2. Dampen one section of the coffee pot with clear water.
3. Work with only one section at a time to prevent drying.
4. Start at the top section (not the lid) and work down.
5. Lay on stripes of color and let them bleed together. Colors used in painting a coffee pot are painted in this order from left to right:

Payne’s Gray + Ultramarine Blue
Light Orange or Peach
Payne’s Gray
Ultramarine Blue
Payne’s Gray
Yellow Ochre
Payne’s Gray

6. Let section dry and move to the next section.
7. Paint top and bottom of the coffee pot in the same way. Add reflections of surrounding objects such as a basket, tablecloth, reflected light, etc.

Now, does anyone smell coffee?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Velazquez Palette

My son surprised me this Mother's Day with an excellent watercolor book titled, Creating Nature in Watercolor - an Artist's Guide by Cathy Johnson. He knows I am always looking for new books for watercolor tips and to share with my watercolor classes. He made an excellent choice!

The painting above was taken from this book and uses a limited palette, a variation of the Velazquez Palette. The Velazquez Palette was named after the Spanish artist who used it so frequently in which Burnt Umber acts as the red, Yellow Ochre acts as the yellow and black (and in this case Payne's Gray) acts as the blue.

No drawing is required. Simply lay in a wash of Payne's Gray with a touch of Yellow Ochre about 3/4 of the way down the page. While this is still wet, lift the clouds using a paper towel. Dab in washes of Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, and Payne's Gray to suggest the trees and shrubs. While still wet, scratch in the branches using a piece of a credit card. Add shadows under the trees and shrubs and a small bird in the sky! A fun painting and an excellent exercise using a limited palette!

I can't wait to try some of the other tips in this book and painting samples. Thanks again, Shawn!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Which pencil is best for watercolor sketching?

While there is no need for more than a small selection, pencils are a valuable part of your "painting" equipment. The photo above shows you a sample of what I use and keep in my art studio.

The most common use of pencils in watercolor painting is to make the initial sketch of the painting and put in the main lines of your subject as a guideline for applying the paint. Detailed drawing and shadings are not necessary, waste time, can damage the paper, and interfere with the paint application.

Although graphite pencils come in a very soft to a very hard range, the more extreme choices are actually less useful: very soft pencils can smear while very hard ones make light marks and can "dig" into the paper and leave dark spots and discoloration when the paint is applied. I usually use an HB or a 2B pencil--both are medium hard graphite pencils.

Watercolor pencils which are water-soluble can be used as well for sketching. However, I prefer to use them when I am doing a quick watercolor painting. These are very good for travel when time and space are limited.

Now for an eraser.....
A kneaded or "putty eraser" is used for removing umwanted marks from watercolor paper. It is extremely soft, absorbs graphite into itself and most important - does not damage the paper. It can be shaped to fit into small areas. If a drawing is going to require much erasures (such as one with perspective, i.e. a street scene) then it is sometimes better to make your original drawing on sketch paper rather than watercolor paper and transfer your drawing to the watercolor paper when complete.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Warm Breezes

My painting above, Warm Breezes, reminds me of spring and one can almost smell the fresh scent of the dry laundry still warm with the sun. Other than bringing back memories of a time when clothes dryers did not use electricity, this painting is an excellent example of positive and negative effects.

Sometimes the color value (the strength or lightness) of a sky is influenced by the objects in the immediate foreground of a composition. In this instance the sky of this spring day is enhanced by including white sheets blowing in the wind. The light objects (the sheets) make the sky appear brighter.

Light against dark is a good tool to use to create impact in your composition. Objects, such as the white laundry billowing in the wind, are best left largely unpainted. The clarity of the white paper is always sharper than any white paint. Use masking fluid to keep your white areas white.

I was taught that white paint is never used in watercolor painting other than to add white on top of a color, such as snow flurries, etc. Never mix white paint with any watercolor paint to lighten it. White will only muddy up the color.

Try this painting...can't you feel the wind blowing?