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

Friday, February 5, 2021

Beginning Watercolor 2/5/21 Finding the Essence of a Simple Object

 So far, in class we've done more work from photos than from life. This week's homework exercise puts your understanding of seeing in layers to work on a simple 3-D object, like an apple,

Image result for gerhard richter watercolor
Gerhard Richter

or a chalice.

Image result for lars lerin

Lars Lerin
(This is a watercolor, by the way)

Look around the house for an object that invites a watercolor interpretation. I find the refrigerator to be a great source of candidates. A bottle of hot sauce, a jar of mayonnaise, maybe a rutabaga. A stovetop tea kettle? Try setting up a single strong light source so the light and shadow shapes are easy to identify. 

Does your object resolve nicely into just a few layers? If so, get started with a monochrome value study. Keep it very simple, one color, only. No need to make the first attempts into handsome paintings. The idea is to begin seeing a series of layers; light, middle, dark.

Once you've seen your way through the single color study, make a color version with a limited palette, just one each of the primaries. In fact, make 3 or 4 versions, all increasingly simple. 

Eventually, you will begin to recognize what needs to be there for the subject to have some presence. Adding the cast shadow will be very helpful. Make that simple, too, of course. Fussing with the shadow will do more harm than good.

After you've painted 5 or 6 of your rutabagas, the translation into "watercolor" will be realized. When you feel confident that you understand the subject in terms of layers of washes and strokes, put the model away, where you can't see it. Now paint a version or two by heart.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Intermediate Watercolor 2/4 /21What is the Role of the Middle Values?


Try to isolate the middle value shapes from  the darks and lights.

It may be easier to make value comparisons without the colors to distract you. Squinting also helps see value more than hue.
The roof shingles are lighter than the weeds in shadow, but darker than the sunlit weeds. 

Try making a monochrome study of this painting or one of the photos that follow. There's a twist to this exercise, however;   Start by identifying the lights . If a shape is closer to white than it is to middle value, leave it white. Paint everything else middle value.
Then, paint the darks. If a shape is closer to middle than it is to black, leave it middle value.

Read this again, and take your time.  


Friday, January 29, 2021

Intermediate Watercolor Homework 1/29/21, Symbolic Realism

 I noticed last week that several of you devised a stylized version of the element in your painting that was being repeated. Let's experiment with this approach for a while.


Please feel free to use your own images.

Beginning Homework , 1/29/21 Seeing in Layers

Watercolor can be a very slippery medium, as I'm sure you're finding out. Why make it any more difficult than it needs to be? I like to say "In watercolor, the easy way in the right way."

In this scene the sun is shining brightly. and everything casts a shadow. This orange wall, for example, casts a bold. dark shadow on the sandy road. Since the shadow and the surface on which it falls are very different colors, you might assume that the two must be kept from overlapping. If so, you would have to paint the shapes adjacent to one another, just barely touching. 

But it turns out that the careful way is the hard way. It would be easier just to paint the dark shadow right on top of the wash that represents the sandy road in sunlight. While it is true that the sunny and shady road are different colors, there is no reason  to keep them from overlapping. In fact, having the sunlit wash under the shadow makes a more convincing illusion than it would to make the shapes adjacent.

Light, Middle, Dark

How many layers would it take to paint the light and shadow on the yellow wall? could you 
stroke each layer on top of the previous one?

What would the first layer look like?

Light Middle, Dark
Shape by shape, it rarely takes more than three layers

For homework, paint one of the photos or copy the orange wall painting. Take a picture of your painting when all you have is the first layer. Send that along with the finished version to Diane.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

Intermediate Watercolor Homework 1/21/21 Repetative Texture


How many individual  bricks must be articulated to give the feeling that the stacks are made from many? Is it possible to depict too many? Is there a minimum number? How do you know when you've done enough?
Some of us try to suggest the presence of multiple components of bricks, or grass, or leaves on a tree. Others prefer to paint every unit. 
If we begin by making a general statement we can arrange for everyone to work within their comfort zone

A brick wall starts out as red rectangle. As you  add individual bricks you move closer to the look and feel that satisfies you. To keep from going past the point  it helps to get in the habit of putting down the brush while you still feel it needs a few more. Give it a day or two. It's easy to add more, but hard to take them away.

For homework, pick one or two of these images and practice making fewer strokes or more, in search of what feels right for you.

Beginning Watercolor 1/21/21 Light, Middle, Dark

Because watercolor is a transparent medium it makes sense to work from light to dark . A dark can cover a light more reliably than a light can cover a dark. It's your lucky day when a scene or image resolves into a sequence of light tones first, followed by middle values and then darks.

In this scene the shapes progress nicely from the lightest (sun) to the darkest (distant mountain). That means you can simply apply the lightest tones first and put progressively darker values right on top of the lighter ones. For example, the middle value of the grass could extend back all the way back and up the mountain. The mountain can then be applied as a layer of darker paint.

In this Lake Union scene what came first? The lightest area appears to be the pale yellow in the sky. The shadows on the boats are also very light. Both could be applied at the same time, followed by the clouds. Then the middle value ochre on the boats and the water. The line of trees and the ports on the boats are darkest. They can be placed anywhere you want them since they are dark enough to cover any of the earlier layers.