Friday, October 15, 2021

October Fifteenth Finding an Easy Way

  For many realist watercolor painters the primary job is to discover how to simplify the scene or image they want to paint. The real world doesn't always resolve into a neat sequence of layers that can be laid simply on top of one another. In the photo below, for example, a scattering of very light blades of grass sits among an array of darker ones. 

To paint this subject accurately it seems that one would have to paint around the light grasses to avoid making them appear farther away than the middle value and dark strokes. This is a good example of the branch of watercolor painting known as "No Fun".  Surely there's a way to suggest the mixture of values without resorting completely to negative painting. Fortunately, we are not obliged to be accurate in our interpretation of the subject. Maybe just a few of the separate light grass blades would be enough. 

OK? Refining the image down to the smallest number of essential units sounds good. It still remains for you to discover how you would apply the paint to read as grass? Do you have answers to the following questions?

(1) Is there a way to paint the grass with an overall wash that can underlie everything that will come later?

(2) Is there anything that should be reserved?

(3) Is there anything that should be done while the shape is still wet? 

If so, carry on. If not, get out a piece of practice paper! You could try scraping out a few pieces of grass, just a few. Or maybe you could lift a couple of lights. You could also try masking fluid, once the paper is dry. And there's always opaque paint. Finally, you can usually make it easier by redesigning the look of the image. For example, what if you  make all the grass you invent darker than the previous layer. True, it  would look different, but it might look good.

For homework, experiment with these techniques. Try combining them. Try making an all soft edged version. Maybe all hard edged. Use one of the wetland scenes, and remember, err on the side of too little information.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

What Isn't Neutral ? 10/7/21

                                                                      Joseph Zbukvich

What isn't neutral in this interpretation of fishing boats? Maybe the blue stripe on the boat, bottom left,. Or is that only colorful compared to all the greys and browns that are so subtly represented? The sail in the center seems downright yellow until you look at it by itself. Certainly yellow is the dominant color, but it's more like a mud puddle than it is like a lemon.

Note how subtly  the two distant hills display warm reddish brown in the nearer hill and blue-grey in the one that is farther away. Zbukvich understands how little color is required to show us what we actually see.

Most of what we see in the country and plenty of what we see in town is neutral. Let's try putting color back into these desaturated images. Just a little.





From Many Shapes, One Shape October 1, 2021

Take a look ate this image. The big, complex shapes would benefit from some simplification. If you painted the whole big shape a mix of the cool blue, the warm red and the warm grass  the result would be a neutral. Don't forget to save the lights. While the overall neutral is still wet touch in the component colors of your simplified shape.Add in the strong darks. Voila!

Here are a couple more images that can be made easier to paint

by simplifying them. Instead of looking for the differences between the shapes, look for the similarities.

 E Plurubus Unum

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sure Thing, Have Faith


What color is this barn? I'll bet you can see plenty of yellow, and probably some red, too. How about blue? Look inside the open bays where some farm stuff is visible. Kinda blue, right? The side roofs look bluish too, compared to the warm siding. As painters, we can recognize an opportunity to have some fun with color while also challenging the viewer to see this grey/brown building as a collection of primaries.

What if you allow the primary colors to run together on the paper? Might you see some patches of secondary color; orange, green and purple? If you kept moving the brush around on the paper eventually the whole barn would turn neutral; brown and grey, but just for today let's leave those patches of primary and secondary color boldly asserting themselves. This is where the viewers come in. If they stand back a little the colors  merge optically and display the entire spectrum all at once. The first layer can look like a crazy carnival comprising too many colors, but as long as your brushstrokes are vertical this experiment will not fail! Have faith. When you add those deep, rich darks the whole thing will come together, Guaranteed.                   


Friday, September 17, 2021

September 17 Color and Value are Separate Features of a painting

Which is darker, the Gray sky or the yellow window? Keep in mind that surrounding a color with a much darker one is likely  to have an impact. 
The dark "Frames" are much darker than anything else in the picture. Do you think you can afford to lighten them a little so they don't behave like flat black holes? When I look at the sliding door on the left of the big opening I can see some boards holding it together. To me, they make that dark shape more interesting than flat black would. The door would still be a lot darker than than the yard or the sky.

Take a minute to see where the darks and lights appear in this photo, below.The fir trees are dark when they are framing light areas, and light where they are framing the darks. I could pretend these bold  value relationships were revealed on site, but the truth is I didn't notice them until I  was reviewing the pictures. If you choose to paint this scene remember the questions that will make the light clear and bright; How dark is the shape I'm about to paint? Compared to what? 
For example, the  trees on the hillside are darker than the grass, but lighter than the shadows.

The image below has much in common with the previous one. Layer number one is a carefree treatment of the light trees, rocks and shadows, onto which the more specific darks can be laid.

Choose one or two of these and practice getting the values correct so that you can let go of accuracy in the realm of color. Have fun!


Thursday, August 19, 2021

Watercolor Homework 9/2/21 How Did You Color in Your Coloring Books


This photo has been desaturated. Since we're not at the scene, you are encouraged to color it in using any colors you please. What if you wanted to make a serene version? How about a lively palette? 

How do the colors you choose affect the mood you create? Try deliberately using colors that produce the feeling you want to display, rather than being hap hazard in your selections. See if you can think in color, mentally "coloring in" selections that give you Peacefulness, for example, or Anger. What color do you think the little building really is?
Make more than one version. Can you control the color/mood relationships?
Have fun!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

6/10/21 Everyone's Final Homework Exercise of the Term ; As You Like It


Traditionally, the final homework of a term is your choice, but a few folks have requested some particular images for inspiration. Maybe you would like to start with this photo, 

Or this close-up. I think I'd leave out the dead tree behind the madrona

 Here are a few studies of similar scenes painted in plein air. 
Perhaps you can put the photo and one of them together.

have fun