Saturday, September 25, 2010

White Watercolor Paint?? What? Why? When?

Storm Tossed
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

Use white watercolor paint?  Should I or shouldn't I? 
In my watercolor painting above, Storm Tossed, I used white watercolor paint to make the white water created when the waves hit the rocks and the shore.  By using white paint as well as leaving some areas white, I was able to create a turbulance that would be difficult to achieve any other way. 

Watercolor painting in its purest form doesn't use white paint to tint colors or provide highlights.

Instead, white areas of paper are covered with only a very pale watered-down wash to simulate light areas or, to achieve pure white, are left unpainted altogether.

This means you have to have a good idea where these areas are going to be before you start painting. This involves some pre-planning of your picture - which is actually a very good discipline, whatever paint medium you use.

In other more opaque mediums like oil painting and acrylic painting, the artist relies on adding the finishing highlights with lighter colors or white paint. This gives a bit more flexibility if you change your painting half way through.

However, don't be put off by this. Great watercolorists often used white in their watercolor paintings.

Turner was a good example. He had to use white for some of his highlights as he frequently started off by staining his paper with tea, coffee or even wine to create a particular atmosphere!

Watercolor Tip:
Never use white to mix with other colors to produce a lighter shade. This is done with oils and acrylics, but never watercolor. Adding white to other colors will only “muddy” up the color.When Does a Watercolor Artist Use White Paint?

The following are suggested time to use white paint:

a. Snow - applied via spattering to create an overall effect of snow falling.

b. Spray from water, etc. (like in my painting above)

c. Highlights that would be very difficult to achieve any other way.

Remember, there's only one rule in painting and that's to enjoy yourself. So if white paint's good enough for Turner and the other greats, you go ahead and use it as well!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lazy River - Part 3: The Water

Lazy River
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

Part 3: The Water

This week I will discuss the last main element of this painting - the water.
How to Paint the Water:
Using a large round brush block in the river using broad horizontal strokes of Ultramarine.  Use deep color in the foreground, diluting it as you move towards the distance.   While the color is still wet, smooth out brush strokes with water and a fan brush. 

Start to paint the foreground reflections into the wet Ultramarine paint, using mixes of burnt sienna and indigo with vertical and horizontal strokes.  Refer to the painting above for location. 

Add distant reflections next.  Wet the far part of the river with water.  Using a smaller round brush, work over this area with vertical strokes of yellow.  Add darker bands with mixes of lemon yellow, Payne's grey, and burnt sienna.

Remove the masking fluid  in the water area.  Paint strokes of indigo mixed with burnt sienna between the lines where the masking fluid was removed. 

Make squiggly lines to capture the movement of the water with the indigo and burnt sienna.

Finishing the painting:
Remove the masking fluid from the background.  Pant a dilute mix of indigo, burnt sienna and green among the trees.  Add reflections of green in the water for these trees.  Define the bank using washes of cerulean blue, turquoise, and yellow.    Paint the posts in the foreground using burnt sienna and yellow.

Check your painting for any areas than need emphasis:  shadows, reflections, etc. and fine tune.

Sign your name!  Your lazy river is ready to enjoy.....

Happy Painting!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lazy River - Part 2: The Trees

Lazy River
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

Part 2:  The Trees

As mentioned in last week's blog, there are three main elements to this painting.  Now that the grass and foliage have been painted, I will discuss how to paint the trees; and we will finish with the water next week. 

How to Paint the Trees:
Use a small round brush (a No. 4 or No. 6) and paint green bands ACROSS one of the tree trunks with a dilute mix of indigo, turquoise, and yellow.  While still wet, define the trunk of the tree by quickly dragging a wash of Payne's Grey quickly down (vertically) through the bands of wet paint.  The paint will run horizontally to suggest branches.  Paint one tree at a time so that the paint is still wet when the Payne's Grey is applied.  This is a handy technique to paint trees quickly. 

After this initial wash has dried, paint the bark on the trees using Burnt Sienna--don't over do it.    Work from the wrist to make natural shapes that are not too "set" and geometric in shape. 

Finish the trees using a rigger or liner brush to put in the smaller branches. 

Watercolor Trivia:
In the 19th century, marine artists and architects often used a tail feather of a woodcock to paint fine, even lines.  The feather, which is very springy and holds a surprising amount of color, works like our current fine liner brush or a rigger. 

Next week, we will finish this painting by putting in the water element!

Happy Painting!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lazy River

Lazy River
Watercolor 11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

In my watercolor painting above, the bright yellows in the foliage and grass are used to indicate areas of sunshine streaming through the trees.  The small amount of foliage on the trees and bushes indicate an early Spring day.

There are three main elements to the this painting:
  1. Water
  2. Grass
  3. Trees
Each one of these elements are treated separately and a different technique is used to paint each of these different sections.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I will address each of these elements and how to paint each one.

First, sketch your painting with minimal detail.  Spatter masking fluid in the tree area in the background and dab some masking fluid between the trees.  Also, mask out distant horizontal reflections in the water and the stumps in the foreground.  Refer to the "white" unpainted areas of my painting above for placement of the masking fluid. 

Watercolor tip:
How to Paint the Grass and Foliage
Spattering is the key to the fresh, grassy river banks.  The first spattering is made with clean water and then paint so that the paint finds its way into the pools of spattered water.    The first spatter of paint looks like an explosion of tiny stars, but as each layer of color is applied the impression of grass starts to take shape.

Be certain to create perspective in the painting with larger spatters in the foreground and smaller ones in the distance.  

Add darker colors of green in areas of the bank to create the shadows from the tree trunks on the opposite side of the river.

Next week I will discuss painting the trees.  The water and details are put in last and will be discussed the 3rd week.

Happy Painting!