Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Beginning Homework 9/26/12 Seeing inLayers

Here are a couple of images that suggest a series of layers as a means of translating them into watercolor.
Look them over with an eye toward which layers carry the narrative content and the illusions of light, space, and substance. Squinting helps.
Just in terms of total space, the middle values dominate this scene. Are they also responsible for the content?
Here there is more dark and light than middle value. Would the darks alone tell the story?

If you were making a painting of one of these in layers that progress from light to dark, at which stage you would have to start being careful?
Many of you brought home the images you were working on in class. Using those or one of the above, make a simple version of the scene by blocking in the lights, laying the middles over them, and, finally, adding the darks. Try limiting your palette to just three colors - one red, one yellow, and one blue, and make all your colors by combining the primaries you have chosen
Have fun

Intermediate Watercolor: Simplifying toward abstraction 9/26/12

Today at Gasworks park you did all the necessary work to learn what the components of a free interpretation of the structures would be. There are 3 layers: Light (vertical rectangles), Dark (vertical, horizontal and diagonal shadow pattern), and calligraphy (thin, dark strokes around the periphery of the major forms).
Using your studies as a guide, try simplifying the layers to the point that they can be seen as patterns at least as much as they describe reality. You may have to let go of the illusion of light and space, but perhaps not.
You're right, this isn't Gasworks, but it illustrates the kind of  refinement I'm imagining. 

Here's the source. Most features were given room to wander, but there were a few that  seemed essential, and were held onto a little more tightly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beginning homework 9/20/12 controlling wetness/sky paintings

Paint a few soft-edged skies. This means that as soon as you see a hard edge, STOP. Let the painting dry completely, then re-wet the area where you plan to make more soft-edged strokes.

Can you tell how many layers of paint were applied to make this sky? It looks like four to me. First, the paper was wet with clear water, then a layer of pale, warm peach color was applied across the bottom and center. While the paper was still wet, the lighter gray went down. Then the dark gray, and finally, the blue. The brush needed to be washed once - between the dark gray and the blue. 
Remember to stay aware of how wet your brush is compared to the paper. And don't correct these paintings. If something goes wrong, let it be. Really.

When the paper is dry, add some hard-edged landforms. Or, on second thought, let them be soft, too. Experiment. Be playful, and have fun. 
Take a look at this week's intermediate homework for a short discussion of how choosing hard or soft edges affects the focus of the painting.

Intermediate Homework 9/20/12 Edge Quality

What kind of edge does this form need?

Sometimes the subject matter of what you are about to paint will tell you whether the edges of the form should be hard or soft, but there are no rules about this. Clouds often appear to have soft edges, for example, but you can paint perfectly acceptable clouds with only hard edges. You can search long and hard in most of Edward Hopper’s watercolors and never see a soft-edged cloud.
More often, it is the focal point of the picture that determines how wet the paper and the brush need to be in any given area. Hard edges are assertive. They tend to describe distinct forms, while soft edges merge with the field on which they have been applied.
In Familiar Rock, we are encouraged to see the trees on the foreground headland as individual forms, while on the hillside in the background we are meant to see the forest as a whole.

Familiar Rock                                   Tom Hoffmann

The hard edges of the nearer trees are necessary to keep them separate from the more distant hillside. If the painting were made with only hard-edged shapes, or all soft edges, the pictorial space would be ambiguous. Choices have been made that deliberately focus the viewer’s attention, much as you would focus a camera.

Soft edges tend to describe a subject in general terms, while hard edges are usually more specific. Consider the role that the particular area you are about to paint is meant to play in the big picture before deciding whether your paper should be wet or dry. How much attention do you want the viewer to pay here?

Red                                              Mary Whyte

Limiting the hard edges to the face and the hat keeps the viewer’s eye from being distracted elsewhere.  The job of the background, for example, is simply to “set off” the figure. Once that is accomplished, nothing more needs to be added.

It is often appropriate to imply complexity in a subject rather than to specify it. Too much specific information leads to a confusing picture, where the viewer’s eye is pulled in several directions at once. If your pictures tend to lack clarity and cohesiveness, consider holding off on the hard edges until you know where you really want them. As a preliminary study, try blocking in the lights and the middle values all wet-on-wet. By the time you’re ready for the darks, you will probably have a good basis for deciding where you want to focus attention. See how the picture “reads” if you only make hard edges in that center of interest.  

Baby Grand Baler               Tom Hoffmann

Here, the baler is clearly the star of the show. The stacked hay bales play a supporting role, and would compete for center stage if they were more specific. They are made up of many brushstrokes, but because these are mostly soft-edged marks, it is possible to take in the overall shape as one form, without being distracted by too much information.

For homework, make a very simple version of your choice of image using only soft edges or only hard edges. When the study is finished, ask yourself where you wish there were the other kind of edges. In your imagination, decide where the most meaningful strokes would go if you were limited to only a few, say, three or four.
If you have time, make both an all soft edged study and an all hard edged one. By then you'll be ready to make a very well informed painting.
Have fun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Intermediate Watercolor Homework5 value monochrome study

Please open to a past post by clicking on the link here:

Beginning Watercolor homework 9/29 layers and value post for a thorough description of a 5 color monochrome value study, complete with illustrations.

Beginning Watercolor Homework 9/12/12 Color mixing

To warm up, try combining any two colors together so that neither one dominates the mixture. Make a patch of the result on a sheet of student grade paper.
Next, mix two complimentary colors together to make a neutral with neither of the components dominant.
Finally, mix three colors together to make a color where none of the three dominates.

OK, now that you're all warmed up, look through magazines (do people still have magazines around?) for patches of solid color at least 1x1" square, and cut them out. Paste them on a your piece of watercolor paper.
Using only one red, one yellow and one blue, make as good a match as you can for the colors. Make a patch of the color next to the cut out original. Write the names of your primaries beside the patch.
Now switch to a different set of primaries, and match the colors again.
That's it. Have fun.