Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Broad Strokes: A Class Demo

I think one of the toughest aspects of watercolor is to simplify what we're looking at on paper. Using a large brush is very helpful, to start with. I tend to want to look into the background and start there since that, in my mind, is the under-painting. I work background to foreground, as probably all artists do, layering as the landscape or subject moves towards me. And light is a huge part of that. Squinting one's eyes one can see how the light and shadow fall and overall patterns. I like to start my students off working on broad landscapes to get to get them used to working background to foreground.

My sketch
In this instance a student brought in a complex photo. Okay, I thought she was crazy for trying to paint this image, but we both learned some things. My demo was about seeing light, building a few layers of color, and suggesting and simplifying rather than rendering it in detail. Also exaggerating light, color and atmosphere and using broad strokes on a couple of levels. I used large brushes which kept me from noodling. Nothing like noodling to kill a watercolor sketch!

A beautiful rainforest reference photo

 This was done in three passes. A basic wet in wet, warm and cool variegated wash to start suggesting light around the trees and blue sky reflected on firs in the background. I see a rainbow of colors in this photo, so ended up with that. Tried to keep the foreground warm; cools recede, warms come forward. The first wash was about a #3 on the value scale.
After drying, I applied more variegated washes with suggestions of shadowed patterns in the background with an occasional hit of light. Around a value #6-7. Then darks, merging and mingling colors and added a couple calligraphic brush marks suggesting limbs. I always vary colors on each pass, which adds movement and variety. Darkest areas hit around a #9 on the value scale. A few darks can add a lot of punch and create a little irradiation which helps make it glow.

Give it go, see what you come up with!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

QoR Watercolors

I decided to try the High Chroma sample pack of the new QoR watercolors by Golden. This painting was a test run to see how they behave. It's almost done entirely with that pack of colors with the exception of adding in some DS Ultramarine turquoise and Quin sienna for darks. I really like these QoR watercolors. I like them so much I'll be switching over to some of their colors over time.
In comparing with DS they are subtly different in shade. Some more than others. For instance Quinacridone magenta is brilliant and intense compared to Daniel Smith's. QoR's Cobalt teal is a little darker and more granular then DS's. But I think it's biggest difference is it's behavior. The paint seems to disperse more easily, releasing tendrils of pigment into wet areas. You can see this behavior in the upper right corner pinkish violet area. There's also a depth to it that's difficult to articulate. Something about the way it interacts and mixes with other pigments. This was painted on arches hot press 140 lb. which can feel like a sponge at times, but this paint seems to glide on. I'm really looking forward to getting to know this paint better.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Some Flowers

Playing around with keeping it wet and allowing the paint to flow.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Black Swan and Australian Roses

What a wonderful name for a Noodler's ink. It makes me visualize a swan, dark and elegant floating with red roses on a shaded pond. It's a lovely, transparent, gem-like color. Shades nicely when written. I tried it out last night on this sketch in my Punjab watercolor sketchbook. A very rough paper that's difficult to draw on with a pen. Though it was a struggle to draw, I love the effect of this ink with watercolors. It bleeds a magenta. Usually I prefer warm reds like Noodler's Cayenne. That color has a hint of brown. But this is nice and think I'll stick with it for awhile. Unfortunately the formula for this ink was changed to a more purple color. Probably equally as lovely. This is the old formula.

Messy and spontaneous Valentine Flowers with wine...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Around the World Blog Hop

My thanks go out to Sue Pownall in the UK for nominating me to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop. Please visit her blog and website to check out her beautiful ink line art.

How it works: A blogger answers 4 questions then invites another 1-3 bloggers to answer the questions on their own blog the following Monday. Here goes...

What am I working on? 
A number of things such as planning watercolor classes and getting my studio and house ready to have them here. I’m starting with two this month, Beginning Watercolor and Watercolor Basics. Teaching forces me to examine my own and other artist's picture making processes and techniques. Also relearn all the basics, try to merge them with my own techniques and bring some clarity to them for lesson plans. It's incredibly rewarding to see people develop their skills and creativity. And I learn so much from my students.

A gouache experiment

Gouache and watercolor study for
a future painting.

On the art front, I’ve been playing around with watercolor, oils and doing more sketching. I really enjoy painting and drawing on location anywhere. Whidbey Island is the perfect place for it with it’s beautiful scenery and venues. Lately, I’ve been combining gouache and transparent watercolor.

An oil painting in progress.

In addition to watercolor and sketching I'm working on a series of landscape paintings in oils. It's a nice change of pace from watercolors. For me, it's a more difficult medium than watercolor because brush strokes are more deliberate and stay where you put them. Brush technique is important. It's a very sensuous medium that makes my mind churn with ideas. I'm excited to learn more about using it. The summer before last I spent a good amount of time plein air painting with oils and plan on getting out there this year, when the weather is better.


How does my work differ from others of my genre?
Making pictures is like handwriting. I guess it's the way I make my marks and apply the paint and print the block. All my works vary in style, techniques and mediums. They influence each other and dovetail together. Block printing, over the course of years, has influenced my watercolor and vise versa. I apply ink to the plate like I’m using a brush, dipping in different colors, and I apply watercolor washes in layers, blocking in like I’m cutting negative and positive areas out of a block.

Why do I create what I do? 
Because I'm inspired by what's around me and I want to share what I see. It's challenging. And the pleasures of picture making are endless. I'm in a constant state of learning and enjoy the in-the-moment creative process. I’m spellbound by the subject, the marks, the paint, the newness and the unique qualities of every picture. The result is a record of the event and the process of making it.

How does my creating process work? 
It starts with a subject I'm inspired by and I think has potential. That's often landscapes because I'm awed by it. People and animals too. I enjoy their forms. I consider all the elements of picture making; light and shadow, form, line, texture, composition, values, color, etc., and how to interpret the subject on a piece of paper. Do I want it graphic or volumetric? For me the subject suggests the medium and how to handle it. If it's a block print there's some planning involved such as deciding on color, then which color on which block and the order of printing. But I try not to labor over it because I enjoy spontaneity and all the surprises. I'm also motivated by the joy of playing around and learning the technical aspects of a medium. For instance with watercolor, understanding pigments and their behaviors such as granulation and trying to exploit those. They're all experiments to me. The End!

My nomination goes to Laura Frankstone, AKA laurelines, who’s work I’ve admired and followed for many years. Be sure to catch her Around the World Blog Hop post on Monday, February 16th. It’s sure to amaze! 

Thanks again, Sue! 


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sketching at Good Cheer

I joined Whidbey Island Sketchers for sketching at Good Cheer 2, our local thrift shop. I thought, oh what fun it'd be to sketch some shoes. The boots were colorful and looked simple enough. Well, rain boots are not so easy. They're clunky but subtle in shape. I messed it up so brought it home and tried fixing the it with some gouache.  It's okay. But it's always fun sketching stuff at Good Cheer.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Watercolor Classes!

My watercolor classes are beginning in mid February. Watercolor Basics is ongoing for as long as students sign up. Classes will be held at my studio in Clinton. We're going to have fun splashing about! Join us!

Beginning Watercolor

Have you long admired watercolor paintings and wanted to learn how to paint with this beautiful medium? Nothing compares to it's luminous, gem-like qualities, and it's spontaneous and interactive nature. Come learn all the basics to get you started. You'll learn about the different brushes and their uses, papers, paper surfaces, pigments, color, mixing and laying washes. This class is for the absolute beginner and those that want to dust off their old equipment and refresh their knowledge.

2 sessions
Thursdays, Feb. 19 & 26
$100  4 seats available

Watercolor Basics

Ahhh watercolor! Nothing matches it's luminous colors, spontaneity and gem-like qualities. If you already know the basics of watercolor and are looking to expand your knowledge, come join my watercolor classes. We'll have fun exploring this beautiful, interactive medium. I'll guide you through the study of it's glorious natures, splashing and playing with washes; flat, graded, variegated, wet on wet, wet on dry, negative and positive painting, and 3 step glazing. We'll also explore texturing such as dry brush, splattering, scraping, salt, sponging and resist. And of course, brushwork. It's an ongoing class, there's so much to learn!

4 sessions
Tuesdays, 10am-12:30pm
Feb. 17, 24, Mar. 3, 10
$120  Full