Saturday, April 26, 2014

Watercolors- Dandelions

I saw this image of dandelions painted by Konstantin Sterkov on his blog Art of Watercolor (a great read, that I browsed for months, going farther and farther back in time-- he interviews lots of great watercolor artists and shares samples of a lot of different artists.... great reading!).

He did a very good job of keeping the edges wet when we wanted them wet (on the right) and dry where he wanted them dry (upper left).  He also had a nice variety of values, as the stems of the dandelions read clearly in his image. 

These are my attempts at exploring just how he did what he did.  I actually prefer the first of my two attempts (the one on the right), but like many of my paintings, I wish I had the time/ inclination to try it again, as I think I could do better, having doe it twice already!  Only after the fact did I recognize how much yellow/green he put into the lower half-- which serves as a nice contrast to the darker blues up top.

I've been trying to figure out just how he did what he did.  First I thought he was doing a wet into wet technique for some of the softer dandelions on the bottom, but how I wonder if he just diluted his mix, and painted those areas wet on dry.  The white of his dandelions have a darker value than the "pure white" of mine, which use the paper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Watercolors- Landscapes from Class, pt. 2- mid-March versus early April

Here's the second landscape I worked on.  I'm not quite sure why it's so orange, but that's the way the original is.  Don't know who the painter is.

Here's my first attempt, from a few weeks ago-

Here's my second attempt, from early April-

I can't quite seem to get myself to go "full orange" the way this original artist is.  I included a Cad Red Light on my palette the second time, and I even used it when mixing and painting, but I keep on muting the colors.  The sketch seems more accurate and the value of the mountain better in the new sketch, but if I do it again, I'll push the yellows and oranges in the foreground more.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Watercolors- My plein air set up, and my first plein air painting!

I've started painting some of my watercolor work plein air. Being Steve Berry, of course that meant I had to do a lot of research first. I found a number of easels I wanted, but I didn't have 200$ to spend. So, I decided to make one. Here's my easel set up, looking out over the bay in Benicia. I plan on eventually doing a post about my easel and how I made it all for about 50$.

I had a good time painting. I tried it out at home on my deck once, just doodling, and I've painted on it in my watercolor class and at home, but this was my first plein air painting. A nice, gently breezy day. Had one onlooker show up and compliment and converse with me. Spent about an hour and change out there. Had a good time!  Lots and lots to learn and play with.

Here's the final pic-

Monday, April 14, 2014

Watercolors- Clay Bird for class, early March

These birds just gave me fits, as I was trying to learn how to get soft edges with a wet into wet technique.  The teacher was able to lay down color then get another brush with just water and "soften" the edges.  This killed me.  In the end, I found it better to "pre-paint" the area where I wanted the smooth edge with water, then I would paint up to it with the color.  Voila- the smooth edge occurred.

I must have aborted a painting with that stupid parrot 3 or 4 times.  Ugh.  But in the end it came out pretty good.

This owl was easier, but in the end I was less pleased with it.  The value range wasn't broad enough.  The owl should clearly be paler, the way the parrot is in the first, so the shadows read as something darker.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Watercolor- Rose from class, early February

Here's my painting-

And here's the original-

I enrolled in a watercolor class at a local JC this semester, and the good news is its gotten me painting more. This will be the 3rd watercolor class I've taken over the last 3 years, so I'm not sure if painting various flowers would be my way of going, but I'm trying out different techniques, messing up, learning the right ratio of water to pigment, etc. so that's all good!

For many new watercolorists I find the primary issue is painting too dry-- they simply don't get enough water on the page to really let things bleed and move.  I have the opposite issue-- so much water on the page I can't control or guide stuff.  I love the way water and pigment move and mingle, but I would, at the least, like to be better able to guide and shepherd it around and better anticipate what might happen when I do stuff.  So, this class has been useful.

Painting wet into wet is something I'm pretty comfortable with, but I tried out some splashes and that didn't go as well as I anticipated.  Liked how dark the background came out though.  Sadly, too much water in it though, and I got a dribbled over the right side of the image.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Watercolors- Various flowers from class, late-February

We did more flowers in class.  I'm painting on either 8 x 10 or a 10 x 14 Arches 140 lb blocks, and most often both.  I just lay down the wash in one and get things going, then set it aside and do the same thing on my other block.  The class runs from 10-3, so in that time I'm able to do watch various demos and then knock out a few first attempts of my own.

Here's the calla lilly in a few steps.  I scratched out the leaf shapes in the back-

Then added in the darker shadows.  I tried a little pure paint dabbed into the image for the highlights on the stamen.

Here's some Matilija poppies, in a few steps-

And here I add in the darkers shadows for the form.  I admit I kind of prefered it before.  I wish there was some way to keep it loose, but still get some darker values in there, to push the experience of form and shadow without having to go dry on dry.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Watercolors- Landscapes from Class, mid-March versus early April

We've done a number of landscapes in class over the last month.  I tried them all.  This was a loose and fun process, and right up my alley.  I'll post the pics of the other painting later.

Here's the original of the first landscape-

Here's my first attempt, done about 2 weeks ago-

And the second attempt I made today, after quite a lot of regular painting.  I'm much happier with the clouds in this one.  It's not perfect, but the control of value seems better.  I gave the roof lines of the house a shot as well this time, on the right, as well as the "god light" coming from the clouds.  There's definitely stuff I'd like to try again....-

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Paint a Mural- Step Nine- Orange Poppies- Complete!

Well, I finally finished the mural the other day.  In total, about 80 hours of learning, repainting, head-against-wall hammering, joy, and frustration.  The wall is 8' tall and 12' wide, and it wraps around 4' on the left and 4' on top.  So, I guess that makes it a 12' x 16' mural-- easily double (or more) the size of the last one (7' x 10' or so).  Not really sure I would have stepped into it if I'd known I was going to plod along for 10 months with paint tarps and whatnot in my bedroom.  But the project is done, I'm pretty happy with it, and I learned a lot that applies to acrylics, color theory, how we view color in the world, etc.  A lot of artistic growth, so that's a good thing.

My daughter did some paper art projects to add to the mural-- that butterfly going around!  And there's a couple of lady bugs too.  Fun!  :)

For the orange poppies, I learned a lot about glazing.  I did an original version-- this one here--

The form was ok to me, but found them too yellow and the technique used too dry-brush.  I then  glazed yellow over them- better, and more chromatic, but still too yellow, not enough orange.  I tried mixing an orange, but I only had red and yellow, and the chroma was too muted.  So I actually went out and got some orange, and glazed that over them again.  Slowly, things became more California poppie-like.

This is actually more orangey than  it looks in real life.  Either way, in the end I've been happy with the changes.  Helpful too that they're actually in bloom right now too!  I took a few pics for reference.

I had a couple of particularly troublesome poppies that I was quite unhappy with.  I re-blocked them with an opaque application of yellow-white paint, keeping the too-brown shadows, then went back over it with a thinned application of orange.  Amazing how the colors shifted, and became appropriate!  The underpainting really was there just for value!

All those YouTube videos and books weren't lying!  LOL.

In the end, the most pleasurable thing is just to heave a sigh of relief.  It doesn't suck.  It's fun.  And it's done.  I can move onto other artistic projects with a nod of contentment and job well done.  !  Phew!  Speaking of which, I'll be posting more of my other work too.  I've been very active the last few months, doing a lot of watercolor painting.