Thursday, March 4, 2021

Beginning Watercolor Homework 3/4/21 Hard or Soft Edges

 How do you decide what kind of edges your shapes will have? When do you decide, for that matter? Can you put off the moment when you have to commit to hard or soft?

You may have seen that it's not easy to convert a hard edge to a soft one. Once a stroke has dried it gets stubborn. Soft edges, on the other hand, can easily be made hard. Just let the paper dry and make a new stroke on top of the soft one. 

Here's a painting by Trevor Chamberlain that uses almost exclusively soft edges. 

Once the paper dried the artist made a few hard edged strokes on top of the layer of soft edged shapes.

A good way to find out which edges want to be hard is to make a painting that has no hard edges. choose an image with a few simple shapes. Wet the paper thoroughly, then paint your shapes before the paper has a chance to dry. wetting both sides helps prolong the drying time.
Stand back and ask where, if anywhere, the painting needs greater clarity or density. Make a couple of strokes where they seem most needed. The strokes needn't be entirely hard. You can make a stroke and immediately soften part of it with a damp brush.


Intermediate Watercolor, 2/4/21 How much is enough?

                                                                                   Eugen Chisnecean

Take a look at the boats in the lower right of this painting. The artist has allowed two separate shapes to intersect. What is he up to? It seems as if he'd rather we paid more attention elsewhere on the page. Given the role Chisnecean wants the boats to play in the big picture They have been sufficiently described as is.
There are several other places in the painting where adjacent shapes run together. Look at the buildings in the middle ground. The washes that describe the colors of the walls merge along partly soft edges. But the artist is keeping track of how much the shapes combine. He takes care to use hard edges, value contrast and color to keep the buildings separated enough to describe how the town is one thing made up of many.
The painting is a balancing act. Just where the artist is letting go of control of the movement of the paint, he is assessing how accurately he wants to describe the identity of the shapes.
Starting with a general statement and moving toward specificity, every artist finds their own stopping place, where the balance between accuracy and individual interpretation is realized.


Is this enough information for you?

                                                                   Michael Reardon

How about this one?
How do you know when to stop? Do you want to show the viewer how you created the illusion of space or light, or do you hope to leave them marveling at your skill? Secrets and tricks...

Here are a few similar images. Choose one, identify what looks tricky and practice that. When you're ready, make a simple version in which you allow shapes to merge.

I want to put a mountain in the background!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Intermediate Watercolor Homework, 2/25/21 Trees!

 Hare are some trees to climb.

 Practice simplifying the shapes. What you see when you squint is pretty much what belongs in a paining.

How many layers do you see?

Could it be that you needn't paint any leaves? How will you keep the foreground trees separated from the background?

Beginning Watercolor, 2/25/21 Seeing Silhouettes

 Seeing positive and negative shapes involves a fundamental skill set.  Painting silhouettes is great practice. You probably see more than one way to approach the task. For example, should you paint the road? Should the cement truck be swallowed up in the dark, or should it be reserved as a negative shape? What about the sky? I'll leave those decisions to you. Make it easy or challenge yourself

Monochrome or full palette? Your choice.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Intermediate Homework 2/18 21 Light toward dark and simple toward complex

 Every now and then a subject comes along that can be understood as a sequence of layers that progress from ,pale  general statements to more specific, middle value interpretations. and on to fine dark detail. Here's an example of a subject that invites a broad treatment, placing light shapes on top of white paper, then making the middle value washes and strokes right on top of the lights, and finally, putting the darks on top of the middles. This clarity of seeing what follows what leads to confident painting.

Try a simple version of one of these images. Before you begin painting ask what comes first. Then what?


Beginning Watercolor Homework 2/18/21 Negative Painting

 Unfortunate name. It's the shorthand way to describe the process of surrounding shapes with noticeably different paint, such as darker  or different in hue. You know, negative painting.

The roof of the barn, above, comes into existence by means of being surrounded by much darker shapes; the mountain, the firs, the barn, 

If you can anticipate the moment when a shape will gain its identity you may be able to apply the paint in a carefree manner, knowing that the darks will trim the lighter shape into a meaningful identity. The roof need never be painted, just surrounded.

In the photo below the stones are rich in color and texture. They are also surrounded by dark lines and shapes. Maybe you could create all that detail without having to stay inside the lines. The stones are present by virtue of those dark lines. What if you loosely painted the stains and speckles all over the area where the stones will be and then painted the dark lines and shapes? you would be painting with the faith that the final layer will establish the identity and location of the stones.


Try one or both of these images. Have faith

Friday, February 12, 2021

Everybody's Homework 2/12/21, Shadow Color



When I am painting light and shadow I find it useful to ask "what is the dominant color?" It is almost always a cooler, darker, and more neutral version of the surface it falls upon. 

Here's a detail of an image full of shadows. Notice that the shadowed part of the yellow blocks are still mostly yellow, even though the color is darker and more neutral than the color in sunlight. Yellow is the dominant color.

 Take a look at the red cap on the white tank. How are the shadow colors different from where they are in sunlight? Like the yellow shadows, the red shadow is darker than the sunlit area of the cap. What is the dominant color of the red cap in shadow? Still red, right? 

Now what about the shadow on the white tank? It's pretty easy to see that it is darker. Is it cooler, as well? Is it more neutral?

The photos below offer opportunities to practice observing and mixing shadow colors. If you'd like to create a context for the shadows feel free to make a proper painting from one of the scenes. If you just want to experiment with the colors you can try adjusting how light and dark they can be, or make the dominant color more or less intense, or more saturated. See if you can find the point beyond which the shadows still look natural.

If you'd like to crop on of these, have at it