Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beginning watercolor homework 1/27


     See all those cans and bottles and car repair stuff on the shelves? Actually, there's nothing on the shelves but a few soft-edged strokes. In fact, there aren't really any shelves. Take a closer look:

                                                                Unchained, detail

The context tells you what you might expect to see, and you do at least half the work of putting it there. Keeping the edges soft actually makes it easier for the viewers to meet me halfway, since there is nothing very specific to conflict with their vision of what would be stacked up on that wall. The fact that it's dark in there makes the vagueness appropriate, as does the overall casual approach to describing the scene (e.g. those wobbly window mullions).

Using one of the photos from class,  or an image of your own that includes a passage or two of layered soft-edged forms, practice the wet-on-wet part till you feel confident, and then make a version of the whole image.
When you're done, begin a written list of some good questions to keep in mind when you need to control the spread of the paint. Bring everything, including practice sheets, to class.
Have fun


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beginning Watercolor, winter 2011 Homework 1/20/11

Greetings painters
Here are a couple of exercises that will, hopefully, shed some light on the variables at work when we put wet paint onto wet paper.

To practice, try this exercise, in which the wash on the paper is constant, but the wetness of the brush varies:

§  Make a large, shiny wash (not dripping wet) of a pale color.
§  Now load a brush with a contrasting color, using lots of paint and very little water, and make a stroke into the initial wash.
§  Next, add a little more water and make another stroke.
§  Keep adding water and making test strokes until you lose control of the edge altogether. When the brush becomes wetter than the paper you will see the second color displacing the first, resulting in a bloom.

A variation on this exercise keeps the wetness of the brush constant and varies the wetness of the paper:

§  Make three 6x6” washes, one just damp, one quite shiny, and one dripping wet.
§  Now load the brush with plenty of pigment and very little water.  Work quickly, so your washes don’t dry. Observe how the brush strokes look on the palette. (you should briefly be able to see the tracks of individual bristles before the stroke flows back together).
§  Make a short stroke in the center of each of your washes. Were the results what you expected?

Intermediate homework 1/20/11

The work you did with darks on wednesday involved more than value, and more than technique. Focusing on a challenging aspect of painting, even for half an hour, brings all the elements together. Making a smooth wash of a strong dark required being thoughtful about, and balancing, color choices, wetness control, and brush handling, as well as sensitivity to value. 
If you already keep a notebook or a watercolor journal, great. if not, here's a good place to start. Articulating what you discover helps make it a permanent part of your repertoire.
Write down what you did to get your wash dark enough and reasonably even. Consider illustrating your notes, if you think it will help you imprint any new information. Where do you still need practice?

Do you think the same kinds of skills would apply to any saturated color, or are the issues peculiar to strong darks?
Make an abstract page of shapes, some of which are rich, deep washes of lighter colors, like cerulean blue, or new gamboge. Try a transparent color, like a quinacridone. And make some of the shapes velvety darks. We will discuss the differences and similarities.