Thursday, April 30, 2020

4/30/2020 essential or Optional?

Look around for a simple object that has some strong darks and some very light lights. An onion or an apple would do, as would a tea pot. Make a painting of the object. Keep it simple. Shape is more important than texture. It is not necessary to make sure the rest of us can tell what you were painting, but take all the time you want. Now paint it again. And again. Paint it at least 4 times. As you become more familiar with the subject you will naturally find some features that have to be right and others that can be approximate. When you start to feel that the brushes and the paint are behaving dependably, put the object away and paint one from memory.

Please send me your studies, especially the one done from memory. Label your work with your name, and keep the image files down to no more than 300 dpi per side


Intermediate Watercolor Homework Color Temperature, It's Relative

When you ask "How dark is the shape I'm about to paint?" the answer is always, "Compared to what?" The same kind of relativity applies to color temperature. A color is only warm or cool compared to other colors in the vicinity.

In the photo, below, there are several areas that we would usually call, "white". Let's look beyond the
family resemblance by comparing the whites to each other.

The barn in the background has white siding and a white roof. Do you agree that the siding is cooler than the roof? To me the siding looks practically blue in comparison.  So, It's fair to say that the roof of the background barn is warmer than the  siding.

Now compare that roof to the siding on the closer barn. Which is warmer? 

Hopefully, you can see that context invites comparison. How warm is the roof on the background barn. Compared to what? It's warmer than the background siding but cooler than the siding in the foreground.

It's sometimes difficult to keep track of whether we're comparing color temperature or value. Look at the truck in the foreground, for example. The potatoes are definitely warmer than the sky, but are they lighter or darker? Let's take the color out of the equation:

When we're just looking at value the potatoes are very similar to the sky, closer than you may have thought.

For homework, pick two colors, one warm in comparison and one cool. Use the white barns picture or one of the following ;

I would change the color of the yellow car. It's too similar to the yellow building and they get tangled up together

Identify the warmest thing in the picture and paint that with your warm color in its pure form. Find the coolest thing in the image and paint that with the pure form of your cool color. The second warmest thing will be your warm color with a little bit of the cool mixed in. The third warmest thing will have a little more of the cool mixed in. Do you see where this is headed? It helps to read it a couple of times. Although the exercise is about color temperature you still have to get the values in the ballpark. There will be lots of comparing.
Have fun

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Intermediate Watercolor, 4/23/20 How are the Shapes the Same?

Eugen Chisnesian

Look beyond the hard-edged darks in this floral display to see what was there before the final layer was applied. I think the paper was mostly wet, which allowed the green and purple and brown to flow together. The purple patches in the center area were all one shape. As the paper dried the large shadow (bottom left) was painted, giving hard edges to some of the individual flowers and the sunlit portion of the vase. 

Looking at the center portion of the bouquet you can see that it didn't take much to show what all that color was about. Just a few dark strokes on the now dry paper were enough to establish the separate components of the subject.

During the early stages of a painting it is often appropriate to put the emphasis on what the various shapes have in common rather than how they are different.

Here's another Chisnesian painting to consider


If we zoom in, you can see that much of the group of buildings has been initially treated as all one shape. Some whites were reserved, but most of the shapes have in common that they are in shadow. The artist is focussing on how the shapes are the same first, then shifting emphasis to how they are different. The progression is from general to specific.


The following images are good candidates for painting in this manner. Make a couple of sketches first, exaggerating the sameness of adjacent shapes. Then see what you can do with the hard edged darks. The idea is to gain confidence that the layers that  come later will provide sufficient opportunity to clarify the content. Take care not to over do the hard edges. Better to err on the side of too general than too specific.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Beginning Watercolor Homework, 4/22/20 Neutrals are Everywhere

Look around your living room. Most of the colors you see in the sofa, the rugs, the ceiling, just about everything is neutral, or at least somewhat neutralized. The exceptions are usually manufactured objects, like throw pillows, or art on the walls.
In nature, it's the same thing; the color of the majority of what we see involves all three primaries.

 For homework, find two neutral-colored objects, one warm and one relatively cool. Using one red, one yellow, and one blue, combine the colors to match your objects as nearly as you can. Make a patch of your colors on paper. Take note of the colors you used.
Now choose a different red, yellow and blue and match the objects again.

We'll spend some time next week laying out your palettes, so bring all your colors.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

4/16 Adjusting and inventing

Last week we experimented with the concept of adjusting variables to create an illusion of space in a painting. Here's another common use for turning the dials  that is all about what to do with large areas of deep dark value.

This image has no white at all. Even the lightest light is a middle value. In order to display those subtle clouds the camera phone sacrifices the large ares of dark. They look pretty much like solid black. That's a lot of nothing happening. 
What can you do to enliven those patches of flat black?
The profiles of the landscape elements suggest what you might hint at. It isn't necessary to make careful rendering of trees or rocks. They are already present. Just a little bit of variation in the black should be enough to encourage the viewer to meet you halfway. Try lifting some of the dark, or let the smaller darks within the large shapes have soft edges. The idea is to do as little as possible

Below are a few images that devote too much space to nondescript dark.Try adding or removing a few strokes that will give the viewer something to grasp.

Considering how close to the front of the space it is, that dark shape in the right foreground needs a little something to suggest some texture, but just a little. It doesn't really look bad in the photo, but in a painting it would be a black hole.
There's plenty of recognizable context to identify what comprises the shape. Any marks you make there would be understood to be foliage. See how few touches of the brush the shapes in the middle distance needed. Don't go crazy and start painting every leaf.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

All Levels Homework, 4/9/20 Adjust the Illusion

When you are working toward an effective illusion of space you may want to turn up the differences between the foreground and the background. In this photo, for example, the sense of distance is tenuous. C.olor, value and edge quality are very similar:

Increasing the difference between the foreground and background would make them different enough to describe greater depth. How about changing a combination of variables, like color and edge quality. I see a hint of purple in the background. Increasing the presence of the purple might push the headland further back across the water. How could you use hard and soft edges to create a more potent sense of distance?

Please experiment with these adjustments. The variables can be thought of as a set of dials that you can adjust, labeled Color, Value, Edge Quality, Composition and Complexity.
Send me your versions, which I will put into a slide show.
Have fun