Monday, February 16, 2009

Watercolor Project - "Adirondack Vista"

I'm starting to schedule some watercolor classes again, as I've been getting quite a few requests for such lately. Most of my students strongly prefer the "forgiving" nature of Oils, so as a consequence, the Oil classes fill about 90% of my teaching schedule. Watercolors tend to scare many of them away, which is a shame, really. Watercolor is interesting and fun to work with in that it doesn't necessarily "stay put" and obey like Oils or Acrylics do. This aspect is also what most beginners find so intimidating. Every medium has it's own set of rules and that goes for W.C., as well. With practice, this seemingly uncontrollable monster can be made to respond to your commands, and though still inherently defiant, it will follow your direction.

Shown here is a simple project that I worked up for an upcoming beginner/intermediate class. I was shooting for a misty, overcast feel which Watercolor lends itself to so nicely.

It will require both wet-in-wet washes and wet-on-dry, so it will be a good lesson in gaining the upper hand with this sometimes unpredictable medium.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Granddaughter

Well, after much wait and anticipation, our new grandchild was born yesterday morning around 10am. LAUREN joins her older brother ALEX ( 2 years ) and will vie for "Poppy" and "Nana's" unwavering desire to spoil them. lol Hey, that's a grandparent's job, right?
I know some of you aren't there yet and it can sound cliche'd, but trust me,....everything they say about being a grandparent is true! There really is nothing else like it!
She weighed in at 9lbs., 7oz., so she's following tradition. ( I was 9lbs. myself )

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sky Study

One of my very favorite things to paint are dramatic skies. To me, there's nothing more interesting , challenging and rewarding, if done convincingly. The fact that the sky never looks the same way twice lends limitless opportunities to portray it's ever-changing moods. In my view, the sky is like the backdrop for a stage play. It influences everything around it by setting the tone and theme of what is to come. No matter how beautiful your foreground elements are, they will only be as strong as your sky. It's like building a house on a weak foundation. Trouble can only follow.

I get many, many comments and compliments on my "skies", both from students and from clients. When that happens, I feel that I've accomplished my goal with that particular piece, taking the viewer to that specific time and place.

This one is in Oil and was started a few days ago and allowed to dry, which allowed the "sunbeams" to be rendered more transparently, and thus more realistically. I used the tip of a palette knife to apply the "silver lining", which works great for that effect.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ocean Wave Lesson

One of my loyal "blog followers" has asked about rendering "moving" water, so I sat down for a few minutes this morning and put together this demonstration. I broke this down into progressive steps, which will make it all easier to digest. There's actually a lot going on here, so doing it in a logical sequence is by far the easiest way to approach it. I put this on a black background simply for better clarity and contrast ( just for the sake of the lesson ), but you would obviously use lighter, more appropriate background colors to match the particular scene you're conveying.
Photo #1 - Sketch/Layout/ Placement of the wave shape
Photo #2 - Basing in the bulk of the wave trough. Notice that the direction of the wave is already apparent in this early stage. This is of the utmost importance. Waves move in a "corkscrew" motion and they can flow to the right or the left ( that is up to you ), but they require movement!! Also, note the lighter "eye" at the peak of the wave which lends a somewhat translucent quality. It's a MUST!!
Photo #3 - Adding the "dump" of the wave ( see it crashing over? ) and the "shadowed foam" along the crest.
Photo #4 - Highlighted ( white ) foam was added on the top of the shadowed portions. Think of your light direction and don't just outline the whole thing. That's boring and mundane. It's much more dramatic ( and realistic ) to add a touch here and a touch there. Some "spatter" ( thinned white on a Fan brush ) really makes the water move and churn. Foam patterns ( wave lines ) were added with a Scrpit brush and thin paint, first in a shadow tone ( blue and white ), then highlighted with white alone. These must follow the established wave direction.
For this demo, I used only a Fan brush and Script Liner. Colors used were Cobalt Blue, Permanent Green Light, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Van Dyke Brown and Titanium White.
I hope this helps anyone wishing to improve their water painting skills.