Friday, January 30, 2015
Here are links to the older posts in the series--
My Alvaro Castagnet Workshop Review, pt. 1
My Alvaro Castagnet Workshop Review, pt. 2
My Alvaro Castagnet Workshop Review, pt. 3
My Alvaro Castagnet Workshop Review, pt. 4
There was a lot of pleasure in meeting so many other great artists at the workshop!! Alvaro attracts a great crowd. Painting can often be such a private affair that one forgets the pleasure of actually sharing that creative experience. We all learned from each other's critiques, which was helpful for everyone of course, but even beyond that it was invigorating to meet so many other artists, with different backgrounds and experiences, all of whom took the practice seriously enough to come to the workshop.
There were locals (from San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and San Rafael), but people also came from really very far away- Tokyo, Bermuda, North Carolina, etc. It was a privilege to paint with so many other experienced painters! It was very invigorating. We are all there because we loved to paint, and were willing to spend the time and money to try and improve ourselves. That's an interesting community to be part of!
So, without further ado, I just wanted to share some links to the sites of those whom I met (and knew well enough to get their website info). My apologies for anyone I missed! There were over 30 people in the two sessions, combined, and I just didn't really get a chance to meet everyone. If you read this post, went to the workshop, and want to have your info included, please contact me or make a comment.
Uma Kelkar- www.umakelkar.com
Uma is really a very good artist in her own right, and was easily one of the more advanced students in the first workshop. Lives in San Jose. She really took to Alvaro's instruction, and was producing wonderful work by the end of the workshop. I really wish she had stayed for the full 6 days! :( Her website shows her ink work as well as her watercolors.
Keene Wilson- keenewilson.com
Keene was a real pleasure to meet as well. Lives down in Southern California. He clearly has a lot of experience with multiple mediums. He also has a wonderful resource page on his website called For Artists, where he has links to many posts about workshops he's taken, books he's read, insights on different famous artists, etc. I've read over a number of them, and it really is a wonderful resource.
Orin Carpenter- www.orincarpenter.com
I met Orin during the second workshop, and we hit it off immediately. I wonderful guy, and from browsing his website, clearly quite skilled in a variety of media as well. He teaches art to highschoolers up in Marin. A local! Now if I can only get him to go out plein air painting with me.
Lynne Haines- lynnehaines.com
Lynne lives up in Washington, and came down with her husband. What a pleasure to paint visit with her! Or squeeze into a taxi with with too many other adults! LOL. I was unaware of the extent of her watercolor experience though, until I visited her website. So she's obviously quite humble as well. ;)
Efrain Ibarra- www.iba-copalettes.com
Efrain not only paints, but he also builds these fantastic little plein air palettes. Very much like a Craig Young palette, but you can actually get one of these made for you and not wait years and years! :) Alvaro even posted about it on his Facebook page, I believe.
Bert Sult- http://bertsult.blogspot.com/
From the Raleigh area of North Carolina, I believe. Bert has taken a number of other workshops with Alvaro, and it shows. He's done some shows, and sold his work.
I couldn't find a blog or website for this artist from Bermuda, but Charles was such a gentleman. Quite an excellent painter too!! Here's a link to an article about him, which shows some of his paintings. Charles, why aren't you even on Facebook? I really dug your work, and now you deprive us? Phewy!
Anthony was soft spoken, but carried a blow torch!! :) Literally. I laughed and laughed when I saw him whip that thing out, but it was incredibly effective. We often didn't have a blow drier or outlet available for Alvaro, during the plein air demonstrations. Thank goodness for Anthony's preparedness! Of course, he also loves to paint, and runs the Taos Paintbox company, which produces beautiful handmade watercolor boxes, in the Craig Young style as well.
And that's it for now, folks. Check 'em all out if you get the change. A fine bunch of painters.
Friday, January 23, 2015
1) Soft and Hazy- low value contrast, soft edges, muted, analogous colors
3) Sharp Staccato- high value contrast, hard edges, high chroma, complimentary colors
-all about relative values… How much darker is THIS than THAT?
-bold value contrast= bright light (building in direct sun, beaches, scenes at mid day, etc)
-bold value contrasts attract the eye
-bright light only occurs because of tonal contrast in the painting (a darker than usual background, darker shadows, etc)—if these are removed or blocked, the experience of bright light will diminish. The experience of light occurs because of tonal contrast—it’s a relative experience.
-mellow value range= low light (scenes at beginning or end of day, shaded areas, etc)
*TIP- the sky is often paler and of lesser value than you think, even if you have clouds in it… otherwise the ground won’t read as ground. If the sky or the clouds ARE the actual focus of the composition, then that changes things some.
Edges- 4 types-
a variety of edges help create depth just as much tone and color
*TIP- turn the paper upside down and do a gentle wash over the sky line after you’ve painted it and let it dry, to soften the distance and blur the edges
vary your edges, don’t have them be all the same
-the type of edge you get is dictated __directly__ by the relationship of pigment and water on your brush compared to the amount of water on the paper this is where the watercolor clock is really really important
1) Hard Edge- Can only be done on DRY paper. Can help create a harsh, bright light.
2) Lost and Found Edge- Can only be done on nearly DRY or DAMP paper. Good for creating varied mass within a single wash or shape. Difficult to control. Requiresthat you have an equal or lesser amount of water on your brush compared to the paper, or you’ll get blossoming as the water from your brush expands on the canvas.
3) Soft controlled Edge- Done when the paper is MOIST. Good for interlocking shapes. Good for connecting the sky to the horizon, instead of using a harsh, hard line.
4) Soft Uncontrolled Edge- Done when the paper is WET. Easy to accomplish, but hard to get it to “read” as anything specific. Beautiful but sometimes overused. Works wonderfully when combined with sharp hard edges.
He either swings cool or warm, in a general gist, on the color of the painting. As a way to guide the color choices and composition. Then he brings in the complementary temperature as an accent.
In this video of Alvaro Castagnet painting (also from an episode of Color In Your Life) you can see him put into effect a number of things that Zbukvic is talking about-- comparative values, varied kinds of edges, picking a mother color of sorts (for Alvaro, but of course, a red!). What's interesting to me is how two painters who are really pretty different all in all, are still using some of the same basic elements of composition and technique.
-These can be easily overdone. If you’re looking for a place to put a piece of jewelry and aren’t quite sure where it should go, you’re probably done. You should only include what’s necessary to tell the story you want to tell—not more. Fewer brush strokes = greater elegance of expression.
*TIP- if the painting is too dark, add gouache highlights; if its too pale, add good, bold darks
Friday, January 16, 2015
2) the drawing itself
too much information can obscure the story you are trying to tell, less is more
you need to simplify the subject to be true to it
combine objects of similar value together to make larger shapes
don’t forget, the sky is a shape too
once you have the bigger shapes in place, sub-divide into smaller shapes, then essential
details after that
*TIP- When you paint, combine the shapes in a single wash with varied values and hues,
don’t do washes in giant, monochromatic, untextured blocks
*TIP- He varies the tone and color of his washes in different areas, to get a single wash
to do the work of a few washes. He’s not necessarily separating washes by shapes.
*TIP- Shaded shapes and their shadows can be painted in a single Milk or Cream
application, so there’s no division between the object and its cast shadow (ex.,
with rocks or walls of houses, or trees). You vary the thickness of your pigment to
create multiple shapes within a single wash.
*TIP- Leave those little accidental white “sparkles” in the painting, to relieve
the monotony. He also uses them later for highlights on random objects too.
Recently, as I was working on the post about going to view the 2nd Biennial International Watercolor Show, I watched some videos by Muriel Chartrain. Fun! Her "simple" watercolor sketches instantly came to mind when I re-read Zbukvic's section on shapes. Here's the one I was thinking of--
Muriel paints these in a single go, pre-wetting the paper and dropping pigment in (clearly something like Coffee on Wet). What's particularly interesting to see is that, as the paper dries, she begins to carve gentle compositional shapes out of the almost amorphous earlier wash. She seems to do this by either a) varying the thickness of the paint she's applying (so it disperses more or less), or b) she uses the fact that the canvas is slowly drying to help the paint disperse in different ways. There is no layering, no waiting for it to dry and cutting a new edge. Nope. She does it all in one go, and while the edges are soft, there are clear shapes there. Super fun to watch. Plus, I dug the music! ;)
-don’t overwork it, a common mistake
-the purpose of it is to lead you into the painting; too much detail will stop the eye from arriving at the point of true interest farther in the painting
-The point is to draw the viewers eye to the actors on the stage, not the stage itself, nor the back drop, nor the back of the heads of other audience members. A painter should always be thinking about what the real “actors” in the painting are, to keep themselves from getting distracted by extraneous details. The actors are typically in the mid-ground.
-Is usually overworked and too dark, because its painted first
In his opinion, its ok to get carried away with the drawing, even if it gets erased or covered by the painting because it helps acquaint you with the subject more.
*TIP- make the drawing light, even if it is detailed, so that it doesn’t dictate your future painting decisions, which should develop and evolve as the painting progresses
*TIP- will sometimes sketch in small, very dark windows or openings on buildings and leave them here on purpose in the final painting, instead of repainting them
- You need consistent, mellow light on your palette and canvas, whether you’re inside or outside. Don’t paint in full sun, as it’ll change the way the paint looks.
- Not against using white gouache or Chinese/ Titanium white to reclaim highlights.
-use small brushes for small shapes and big brushes for big shapes
-hold your brush farther back on the handle
-paint with your canvas at an angle, about 35 degrees
Here are links to the other two parts of the "Cliff Notes"-
Cliff Notes, pt. 1
Cliff Notes, pt. 3
Friday, January 9, 2015
Last Spring I had the opportunity to read Zbukvic's out of print "Mastering Atmosphere and Mood in Watercolor", thanks to the magic of the interlibrary loan process (Yay public library system!!). I even made a little review of it in an earlier post "Summer Reading for Watercolorists". In the hopes that my notes and thoughts might be helpful to others, I'll be doing three posts, as I break down the book- one on the Watercolor Clock, one on Composition as the book presents it, and one on Mood and Atmosphere.
Now, with all that in place, without further ado-
This is the really the nuts and bolts of the book- Zbukvic’s thesis on how to get pigment and water to do what you want it to do. It doesn’t have anything to do with how to compose an interesting image, or what techniques you should use to what affect. It’s really just about understanding the mechanics of watercolors. He uses this set up throughout the book to let you know how he’s applying pigment and water in the painting examples.
Pigment Consistencies (on the Brush)-
Let's see some of that in action-
Here's a video of Zbukvic painting from YouTube (part of the Australian show "Colour in Your Life"). Let's go through what we can see, and I'll try and associate it with the clock-
11:00 Tea on Dry.
He starts a pale wash. All edges that he cuts are sharp, but the value of the pigment he applies is light.
Coffee on Damp.
He starts a new, darker wash on the still damp paper, varying the values,
getting darker here and there, but some of his edges are a bit softer than before.
He lays a darker section in, to the right of the image. He blends it into
with the previous wash on the left side (which is still a bit damp), but you can see that the edges are generally dry on the right and that he can do dry brush work (at the bottom of the shape, by the street), because the pigment is a bit thicker.
15:00 Milk on Damp.
You can see him do the simple strokes into the wash he finished, on the right, for windows. The pigment is thick enough to be darker than the wash. The edges are all soft, but the pigment doesn't disperse, thus Damp.
16:00 Cream on Dry.
This is where he sets in to do the cars. You can see from the close up that the paint is a bit thick on his brush. Perhaps Cream. Also, the paint doesn't create a bead when he uses it on the cars.
17:00 Cream on Moist.
This is for the red tail lights. You can see how the very rich color disperses and runs down into the darker value of the car. He daubs it in, and the water does the work.
17:50 Butter on Moist.
He takes the white straight out of the tube and applies it to a slightly damp surface. The goal, as he says, is for the white to "melt" into it. Compared to the red tail lights, it disperses less, because the pigment is thicker/drier than before. So it's not just the wetness of the canvas that's important, but the brush too.
18:00 Milk on Dry/Damp.
This is where he starts painting the tree in the foreground on the left. The value is noticeably darker than the older washes, and he removes some of the paint from the brush, so it's not so loaded/wet. This lets him paint with more texture.
19:00 Cream on Dry?
This is when he does the leaves and the light posts, etc.. As he says, "The paint is lovely and thick." That's how he's getting that dark, saturated value as well as all the texture.
21:00 Milk on Wet
This is the final stage, where he wants the pigment to really run. He pre-wets
everything and drops rich paint in. And boy does it run. This is much different than earlier stages, where the brush was very wet but the paper was drier (either totally dry or damp). Now, the paper is very wet and brush is comparatively dry. This is making all the difference in the world. If the pigment on the brush was wetter, it would run faster. You can see how it slowly drifts down the page though, and is able to keep its value despite the page being re-wet. If he wanted it to run only a very little bit, he might have put Cream on Wet instead, for example, which produces a different effect, as the paint is comparatively "drier."
Here are links to the other two parts of the the "Cliff Notes"-
Cliff Notes pt. 2
Cliff Notes pt. 3
Friday, January 2, 2015
Exploring atists and techniques from the 2nd Biennial International Watercolor Show, pt. 3- Alvaro Castagnet
Here’s a closeup of the people walking, in the bottom right of the image. I love how its almost pure gobbledy-gook when you get up close! You can clearly see lots of dry brushwork, and then a warmer opaque watercolor being applied for highlights. I saw him do something similar in the class this past April, and he was combining Chinese White with Yellow Ochre for this kind of affect.
In this second pic below, what I was drawn to most were the shadows and headlight reflections.
When I pulled in close, I was surprised to find out that the reflections of the car lights on the wet road are all dry brush strokes. What a fun juxtaposition!
Again, as in the first image, you can see how loose he is with his people. Lots of dry brush work and opaque, light valued watercolor pigments. As I've seen him do before, the color/ value of the umbrellas and the base work for the figures is laid during the first wash, and then preserved and cut around. The thicker, higher chroma pigments for the faces and what not were done later, atleast when I saw him do them. Again, as with the headlights, the legs and and their reflections in the water are all done dry on dry.
This is the 3rd and final Alvaro image that I have pics of from the show. This one, like the first two, was a full sheet (or bigger?), so each little section I'm taking a pic of is probably a quarter sheet or so in scale. Big stuff! In this one, I was struck by two primary things- the cab lights and the window reflections.
First, look how thick the pigment was on the cab lights. That stuff is gooped on like impasto! It’s also applied dry, as you can see the texture of the paper with ease. Here’s the closeup.
My favorite part though is this thing he does with the windows. As before, this section of the painting, in and of itself, is probably atleast a quarter sheet. So, he's playing rough and loose with his brushwork.
The glare that is captured there is wonderful. What’s neat is that he does almost all the shadow work there with very dry brushstrokes. You can see paper texture really show through with the brushwork. I also have to assume he’s pulling some of the red-brown pigment off the paper after the fact in that particularly “bright” area, though who knows? Still, I saw him scrub stuff out with a tissue, to bring back highlights for lamp posts, so perhaps he did the same thing here. Perhaps he just has some impressive brush control and lifts the brush in the right locations of each of the windows?? Either way, it's also subtly enhanced by the paler yellow wash in the center of the glare on the window, with the yellow "shadows" around them. Each element of the affect supports the other. I also enjoyed that strong linear shadow crossing the windows from left to right.
And that's it folks. If you've gone through the 3 posts, I hope you've found some artists or techniques you might want to explore more. Not having been to a watercolor exhibition before, and of such high quality, I can definitely recommend the experience. Getting to see stuff so upclose was wonderful and very instructive. I hope I've been able to replicate some of the experience for you here.