Friday, February 28, 2014

Flowers Bloom in the Watercolor Class

  As artists we have the ability to take the darkest, dreariest day and with a few strokes of brilliant color bring the warmth of a summer sun into the room.

 It always amazes me how the whole class starts out with the same drawing and the same colors, but look how each person's personality comes through in their painting. As a teacher I feel the greatest success when my students take what I share and start to develop a style all their own.

This is my own  painting of tulips.

 Next week we are going to do a much different type of painting. Up until now I have done a detailed drawing and a rather tight painting. Little water and a lot of pigment. This time we will using a lot of water and little pigment, a much faster way of painting. Loose and quick strokes give paintings a shimmery spontanious look. We will be doing lilacs, the one scent that tells us that spring is finally come. This is the watercolor that I have done, and I will be demonstrating this technique in class.

The drawing is very general, just an approximation of what will be painted. I will have this pattern for the students on Tuesday.

Everyone in the portrait class is working on their finished piece, several are working in colored pencil for the finished piece. Not an easy task, many layers of color go into making a good skin tone ergo, many hours of work. As you can see the portraits are going very well. Next week I'll put on new photos so you can watch their progress.

Only two more weeks of classes, the classes fly by, but to see how everyone has grown is especially satisfying to me, not to mention meeting a lot of very cool people. Have a creative week!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Classes - February 18th

We are already at week 4 of this session of classes and boy are these students keeping me on my toes! In the watercolor class we have done a tree peony, a rose and last week a hibiscus, here are some students work from the first two weeks.

The top row are some of the tree peonies and the second row, obviously are roses. Really nice job. It is difficult to do shading and highlights using the white of the paper for the variation in tones and these are really very well done. I will post more as they get done. I can't wait to see some of the finished hibiscus paintings next week.

This week we are going to tackle a problem that faces artists who work from real flowers. If you are a fast painter you won't have to worry about this, but for most of us it can cause a lot of frustration. Flowers continue to open and grow as soon as they are put in water, they reach their perfection state and then proceed to wilt and die. For some flowers that can all happen in a few hours. We can take photos of the flowers and hope the color and lighting stays the same, or we can do quick sketches and use those for the composition and quick color swatches for the color, or we can trust our memories and paint what we remember. So for this project we will be working on tulips. I had a lovely bouquet of red and yellow tulips which I took several photos of. To do the composition I envision I will be using the photo's to draw the tulips in different positions to form the bouquet I want to paint. Here is a montage of the photo's I just took along with some from last year, and the white ceramic pitcher that I am going to use as a vase.

Notice that all of the photos have the same light source, that way my shadows will all work when I start my painting. When I draw my composition I am more concerned with the shape of the flowers than the color of a particular flower. At this point in the process I am also looking at the values and how they will affect the final composition. I will draw the flowers and the vase completely and then decide how the composition will be cropped on the paper. So before I put the drawing down on my watercolor paper, I have worked out my composition, the pattern of my values, and the pattern of my color. I do this work at the beginning of a painting so when I start I can concentrate on just painting.  And that after all is the fun part!

Sorry these are so dark but I hope you can see what I did. This first drawing is how I start the vase. Drawing in the general shape of the object, the box, then dividing that space in half, then drawing in the horizontal and vertical lines where the vase changes shape I can construct the shape of the vase that is the same on both sides.

Now I draw in shapes where the flowers are going to be. This is where the composition starts to take shape.

Once I have an idea of where the flowers are going to be I start to draw in the different tulips, referencing the photo for individual shapes.

Beginning shading has been added and leaves. You can see here that I also thinned down the bottom of the vase to follow the actual vase. This drawing will be my guide when I start to paint for light source, and shading. All of these drawings are done on tracing paper. Using the tracing paper allows me to keep what I like on to the next drawing, or move object a bit without having to start over. Saves a lot of time and  aggravation.

Here is the final pattern for the painting. You can see that I have made some changes from the last drawing. When I look at this I see several ways to crop that would make an interesting painting, so my challenge to you is for you to crop the drawing however you see the best painting result. Be assured there is no wrong way to do this, if you like the whole composition use it, if you see one tulip that speaks to you then do that. What ever you decide to do it will be your creative voice. Good luck can't wait to see what you all do!!!

I would be terribly remiss if I didn't put up some of the pieces from the drawing class. The first week we did some up close work with eyes, the second week it was portrait on tinted paper with graphite and white charcoal, this last week it was conte on tinted paper. Absolutely brilliant work by these artists.

Next week we will be starting on a portrait rendering, using either graphite, conte, or colored pencil. The subject is up to the artists so this should be fun and very interesting!!

I hope you all are having a very happy Valentines day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Watercolor Class 2-11-14

Great class last Tuesday, everyone started on the pink rose and progressed pretty far along. To get and keep the pink clean can sometimes be very difficult, this is one of those paintings where it's really important to have clean water when painting. When doing a large flower with many petals I wet each petal with lean water before putting any pigment down, the first wash of color is very light and then progressive layers of color until the depth of color I want is reached. It is also important to remember to leave white paper where there are highlights. It is surprising sometimes to find that even the lightest wash of red is impossible to take out I can't wait until next week to see the finished pieces. I will take some photo's to share in next weeks blog.

This coming Tuesday the flower we will be starting is a yellow hibiscus with a bright red center. The photograph the painting is being done from was taken by Bertha Moore on a trip to Hawaii, very well done. When you look at the flower it looks to be fairly simple, unfortunately it is a bit more difficult. I started out using two yellows, cad yellow and new gamboge. If you look carefully at the photo you can see the areas on the petals where the lighter yellow fades into a yellow that is a bit more golden yellow, if needed a small bit of cad red can be added to get the color to the golden hue. Before the yellow was completely dry I laid in a light wash of cad red in the center of each petal all the way to the bottom. On the bottom of the petals I added cad red, alizarin crimson and a bit of paynes gray. These petals are very thin, and the shadow of the dark green leaves shows through, that is achieved with very light washes of paynes gray. Be very careful doing that, leave an edge of cad yellow along all the petals. The center stamen uses the same colors as the petals. Put a light coat of cad yellow light on the whole stem, add a small amount of cad red at the bottom while the yellow is still a bit damp to let the colors blend, then a light wash of paynes gray for shadows. Mix a small amount of cad yellow and cad red to get a bright orange, apply to the 3 pollen ends, and use new gamboge with a small amount of paynes gray to darken it enough to make the other pollen ends stand out against the petals.

The green of the hibiscus leaves is a very dark and shiny green. I used sap green as a base and then added paynes gray for the darkest areas and sap green and ultramarine blue for a lighter green. To give the leaves a feel of good dimension I left the edges light. The photo has 2 buds in it, I chose not to add any for this piece, but if you choose to do so feel free.

Have fun with this one!

This session of the drawing class we are concentrating on drawing portraits. The first class we worked on doing eyes. As you have probably heard me say over and over the most important part of the portrait is the eyes. The ancient Egyptians believed the eyes were the windows to the soul  and I have found that so true when doing portraits. If you can capture the personality of the eyes the portrait is successful. The critique at the end of the class showed that everyone did a great job on the eyes. The last class we worked on rendering on tinted paper with graphite and white charcoal. This as a bit of a challenge because you have to think a bit differently. The tinted paper is the mid tone, the graphite the darks and the white charcoal the highlights. I think everyone is doing a great job and I will get photos of the finished pieces next week and post them. As an example I am posting a self portrait from this class.

I haven't  done a self portrait in over 30 years, rather fun to do. I do like the results of the tinted papers. This was done on Bordon and Riley, Pastel/Charcoal paper with a 6B, HB and white  charcoal pencil. Toned paper does not have to be gray, but that seems to be what you see the most of.

Have a creative week!