Thursday, April 29, 2021

Intermediate Watercolor Homework 4/29/21 The Easy Way

 This skyline photo is either very complicated or fairly simple. It's up to you. 


Are you inclined to paint the buildings one at a time or all at once? In the background the buildings have merged into a single mid-value shape. Can you find a common denominator like that for the buildings in the foreground? What if you painted the entire foreground a vey light but intense yellow? Then you could begin to bring in a blue grey that is a little darker than the yellow, and then a darker grey as verticals and horizontals that begin to separate the buildings from each other. Put off taking inventory until you need it, if you ever do. That way the odds are better that you'll recognize the moment when you have done enough.

Here is anther skyline image that would benefit from this approach.

And here's one where most of the work of combining adjacent shapes has already been done:

If you do this one, try one of the others, too, and have fun

Beginning Watercolor 4/29/ 21: Value Scale and Shadow Colors

 A value scale is a simple tool that identifies the relative darkness or lightness of a shape .

It takes about 15 minutes to make one.

Making a Watercolor Value Scale

Cut a strip of good paper, about 2 x 8 inches.

Use just one color that will get thoroughly dark. 

Leave a white strip at one end and paint the rest of the paper very light (2).
Dry thoroughly between layers.
Leave a strip of number 2 next to the white and paint the rest medium light (3).
Keep leaving a strip of the previous layer and darkening the rest till you have 10 patches with white on one end and black on the other.
Try to make uniform value jumps with each layer, but don't worry if it's not perfect. It will still work.
You don't need the numbers on your scale. 
It's also not necessary to save a white border around your strips. Let the tones continue right off the edge of the paper.

                                                           Part 2
Set up a shelf or a table where you can have a single light source. Lay out a sheet of monochrome  paper or fabric on the table. Use a solid color, not a pattern. 

Put a simple shaped object, like a piece of fruit or a mug, on the colored paper or fabric and turn on the light. Move the object around until you can see its cast shadow. Paint a simple version of the tableau. Patches of color would be fine.
Now replace the colored paper with a different color sheet, and look for the cast shadow. Paint this new tableau. Do as many as you like. 

How is the cast shadow different rom the illuminated sheet of color?
We know the shaded area is darker. How else is it different? 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

All Levels Watercolor Homework April 22, 2120 Listening to the painting

 What makes letting go of accuracy so difficult for so many of us? It often seems to be about needing a measure we can use to see if our paintings are any good. We know how to compare a painting to the photo or scene before us; it either looks the same or it doesn't. Take away the means of comparison, though, and we are lost. 

Here is an exercise that invites you to take a break from "getting it right".  In fact, let's say we're not painting at all. Instead, we're following a set of guidelines, making marks according to a narrative of form.

For example, select a red, a yellow and a blue. Then wet your paper thoroughly. Using one of your chosen primaries, make a pale, simple shape, or two.

Now, stand back and ask if the page in progress feels well balanced. If not, add another shape. Follow this same compositional development for all three primaries. 

Where your shapes overlap you'll find secondary colors. You may also notice that the overlapping shapes are darker than the first layer. Stand back again. Decide which of your shapes you'll choose to leave as they are and which you'll change. What happens when you let the secondary shapes overlap or mingle?

Do you have any white paper left? Leave it alone, for now. 

Soon your paper will begin to dry. When hard edges start to appear, remember that you can still make soft edges, if you prefer. Let the paper dry thoroughly, and then rewet it wherever you want soft edges.

Mix all three primaries to make a profound dark.  Work with care not to make too many dark strokes. Stop and stand back after each dark. Ask yourself  "Is that enough?"

Now that the paper is dry you may want to glaze portions to combine shapes that need something in common. If you saved some white areas, now is the time to get out the big brush.

Were you able to make any decisions about what worked and what didn't?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Intermediate Homework 4.15/2021 What Looks Tricky?

 It makes sense to take a good look at a new image or scene with an eye toward what is likely to interrupt the flow of translating the subject into watercolor. It's wonderful to allow the painting process to unfold steadily, with some room reserved for inspiration. Coming to an unresolved passage of the scene can bring the painter to a complete stop, and interject tension that undermines the pleasure of bringing brush to paper. 

Identifying the tricky parts in advance offers an opportunity to practice the technique and approach you think might work. It is often not necessary to paint a full version of the subject to get answers to your questions. For example, The cliff and the water in this scene are in extreme contrast to each other. If you simply want to know how it would look for the contrast to be lessened, you could adjust the value of the adjacent shapes on a few scraps of paper.

In the redwoods scene below, finding the sequence of the color and value of the surfaces looks pretty tricky.  You could easily paint yourself into a corner. How might you find out what color and value should come first? Could you work out the solutions on cheap paper?

For homework, Ask yourself what looks tricky in one of these photos, and find a simple way to practice your solutions. 

Beginning Watercolor Homework 4/15/2021 Taking Advantage of Opportunities

 Some parts of a watercolor painting require careful attention, others invite a carefree application of the paint. Recognizing in advance which category the part you are about to attempt is can make a big difference in the look and feel of the finished work.

The barn boards in this sketch are splashy and spattered. Very little care had to be taken to get them to feel recognizable as rough boards. As long as the first layer is loosely vertical it will be perfectly fine.
What makes it possible for that first layer mess to turn into a barn? Just a few specific skinny lines applied with a little more care bring meaning to the page.
For homework, make your own barn. Take advantage of seeing in advance what needs to be careful and what can be carefree. Move the openings around. Add a loft. Zoom in or out. Let the hints of color be more obvious. 
What about the trees? Do they need to be carefully stated? Can the paper be wet for them. it's your call.
Have fun.