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2020-03-31T00:37:15.650-07:00
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Intermediate Homework 3/15/20 Reading the Layers




The standard approach to making a watercolor goes by many names, such as, "wash and stroke", or , "wet to dry", but the common denominator is that most paintings progress from general statements to specifics. Here are a couple of finished paintings that were created mainly as a succession of layers beginning with pale, soft edges and becoming harder and darker;


Trevor Chamberlain

Can you imagine what the first layer looked like by itself? When did the soft-edged grey shapes become trees?





Trevor Chamberlain

The tree in the middle distance, although it is treated as a single shape, is more complex than those in the background. It displays a few specific marks (branches and openings).



In the following paintings the layers remain visible as successively darker and hard edged;





Torgier Schjolberg



 
Torgier Schjolberg


Light, middle, dark. Some images may require more than three layers.
Please make a simple, three or four layer painting from one of the photos, below, or try copying one of those, above. You may want to desaturate the image to more plainly see the layers.









2020-03-16T12:03:23.125-07:00


Thinking Abstractly to Keep Your Realism Fresh




This dramatic sky wanted to be painted! It's a little intimidating, though, with all that activity in the sky. Rather than try to duplicate that complex array of marks, I'll look for guidelines that will lead toward an interpretation that feels similar. 
The warm wash across the upper sky portion seems simple enough, but the array of grey brushstrokes requires some analysis. It helps me to ask a few questions the answers to which provide guidelines for approaching the subject in a general way.

What proportion of the sky will become grey?
60%, roughly.

How are the grey strokes distributed?
The majority of the marks are spread across the center of the top half of the page, extending from one side to the other, running right off the page. Mostly clumped together, with a couple apart from the group. Only one or two strokes touch the top of the big shape.

What kind of marks are they? (organic? geometrical? Horizontal? Vertical? Hard? Soft?) 
Soft-edged but still distinct, roughly horizontal, irregular and varied.

The answers to these questions are abstract, in that they don't refer to content at all. Theoretically, following them will lead to a passage that reads as a tumultuous sky. It should be possible to turn your back on the scene (or turn the photo over) and still make a convincing version without mentioning the words "sky" or" cloud". Thinking abstractly eliminates the profusion of associations that come along with naming content. 

This approach is basically an act of faith. It requires letting go of the usual process where we keep checking to see if we've made sure the viewer will know what they're looking at. The viewers may be hypothetical, but they still deserve respect! Trust that they'll be willing and able to make sense of what you offer, and that they'll appreciate the opportunity to participate in the interpretation. 






The following images might seem more approachable if you observe them as pure form and leave content at the door:



















2020-03-06T16:01:38.440-08:00


Beginning Watercolor 3/5: Essential and Optional

How do you know what has to be in the picture and what can be excluded? Take a look at the pictures, below. As painting subjects, do you feel more attracted to one than the others? Can you tell what it is that appeals to you? What gives the picture its uniqueness? What would you not want to change?
Go down the list to see what jumps out as the important thing;
Value, color, edge quality, composition.
It's perfectly OK to be drawn to an image because it looks relatively easy, by the way.



Value and color
 


Simplify!



Shape first, then texture, if necessary




                            


Let's use this industrial cityscape as an example.

 I like that the sky and the water are soft-edged, while all the man-made stuff is hard edged (EDGE QUALITY). I also think it would be fun to mix several neutrals, some warm and some cool, and use them in all three areas of the scene (COLOR). I see the strips of docks, containers and skyline as opportunities to combine adjacent shapes (COMPOSITION). As is so often the case, I'll want to get the (VALUES) in the ballpark.

Identify the major shapes and make a  simple pencil outline. 
Decide whether and where to wet the paper. 
Block in the lights.
Take a little more care with the middle values.
Place the dark strokes. Remember, the best way to find out if something belongs in the painting is to leave it out.
Stand back. You're done.

2020-03-06T15:45:01.025-08:00


Shape First, then Texture, if necessary

I'm sure I don't need to post an image here to show you what an overpainted picture looks like. The main feature is too many brushstrokes. If you are about to paint a tree and the fist thought you have is, "Trees are made of leaves", odds are you'll make many more strokes than we neto recognize it as it a tree. 
I think we actually see the shape of an object before we see the components. First the forest, then the trees. The wall before the individual bricks.


For watercolor painters deciding what comes first is as simple as you want it to be. It's easy to add more leaves if you have too few, but it's difficult to take them away if you have too many.



                                         
                                          George Post

Here's a Georege Post painting that demonstrates the approach of, "Shape first, then texture, if necessary". The pattern of symbolic leaves is sufficient to suggest that the trees are made of many   though very few are depicted.

Below are a couple of photos that are loaded with texture. Try making a quick painting with all the detail removed so you can then add a little at a time and stop while you still feel like more is needed.






2020-02-28T07:40:00.150-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor 2/26/20 The Rabbit Hole

Are you ready?

For this exploration let's follow the same progressions we use for realist work, that is, light to dark and general to specific. I'll suggest a step by step trajectory which you can follow or not, as you please. Read it through one time before we begin.

As a first step, let's generate some shapes.

Paint a piece of cheap paper with an overall middle value neutral wash, and another one with a dark wash of the same color. When the papers are dry, rip them into strips and patches.



Arrange the shapes on a piece of unpainted paper, leaving some white showing. Photograph the arrangements you like best.

Now select a palette comprising no more than three colors.
Wet a sheet of good watercolor paper. Using one of your torn paper designs as a rough guide, paint big, pale, soft-edged shapes. Leave some white.

Some variables to consider at this stage:
Do your first layer shapes touch each other? Do they touch the edges of the page? Are the sizes varied? Does one color dominate the design? There's a lot to think about

There is no "right way"to do this. With no external source  to compare to your painting, it can be challenging. Have faith, and don't give up. There are always more opportunities to resuscitate a lifeless painting.

The paper may still be wet, or partially wet at this point. Before you begin applying middle values, decide what kind of edges you want. Rewet any areas where you want soft edges. A spray bottle can be very useful here.
The colors you get by combining the components of your limited palette can play a significant role as background for the more intense original colors.
Keep an eye on the first layer shapes as you apply the second layer. Let some of the earlier marks and shapes remain visible. Saving some of the white areas can be important at this stage. You can always cover them later if you choose.

The final layer often involves efforts to pull the painting together. Glazing adjacent shapes to give them something in common, for example, or adding a stroke that originates in one shape and ends in another. This is when the darks and the purest form of your initial palette are called upon to punctuate  the ramblings of the earlier layers. Stop while you think you're still not finished.`


      
Tom Hoffmann




                                          Gerhardt Richter




2020-02-28T07:41:28.083-08:00


Intermediate Homework, 2/20/20 Hold on here, Let go there

When you feel the urge to depart from accuracy in your paintings, but the prospect of having no guidelines gives you pause, do as the Fauves did. Hold on to value so you can let go of color!




Derain painted his buddy, Matisse in exaggerated colors, but a B/W of the portrait reveals how closely he held to the actual values.



This version of Mt. Hood is familiar and outrageous at the same time. The colors and the values are in the ballpark, which allows the brushstrokes to be more about form than content.



The placement of the shapes in this interpretation of the laguna in Melaque, Mexico are approximate at best, but the colors are true. Holding on to one major aspect of the scene lets us take liberties with another.

Play around with the images that follow. Value is the real heavy hitter. Try holding on to a reasonable interpretation of the relative darkness of the shapes in your first attempts.









2020-02-19T07:29:29.424-08:00


Beginning Homework 2/20/20 Simplify

Sometimes reducing the complexity of a scene is a worthy goal in itself just for the pleasure of seeing how simply the content can be stated.





The trees in the painting are more symbolic than realistic. They are brushstrokes more than they are trees, which serves to enlist the viewer as a participant in the interpretation.

See what the following images suggest to you. Are there aspects you might exaggerate to enhance a feeling? Are there features you could simplify, or some that you could let go of to make the ones you keep more important?








Have fun!

2020-02-19T07:23:33.386-08:00


Beginning Watercolor 2/13/20, E Pluribus Unum

Building a tree by painting all the individual leaves is definitely the hard way to tell the story. With a couple of organic green shapes on the top of a dark vertical stroke you've got a tree. The part we forget is that there is a sympathetic, eager and intelligent audience awaiting the opportunity to meet us halfway. Show them the simple version and rest assured they will know what it is.



                                                                  Andrew Wyeth


Here, as usual, Andrew Wyeth Was thinking in terms of "shape first, then texture, if necessary." The stand of conifers is a solid dark shape. Along the profile edge there is a little bit of texture, just enough to suggest that the entire dark shape is made of that same detail. We, the viewer, will gladly do the job of "seeing" all the needles in the middle of the shape, even though Wyeth didn't paint any.

Below are a couple of images that respond well to seeing in layers. They also benefit from looking for ways to combine shapes to simplify the scene. Give one a try.


















2020-02-13T20:48:28.614-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor, 2/13/20 Careful or Carefree?



                                                                                         
                                                                                   Eugen Chisnecean

Take a look at the boats in the lower right of this painting. The artist has allowed two separate shapes to intersect. What is he up to? It seems as if he'd rather we paid more attention elsewhere on the page. Given the role Chisnecean wants the boats to play in the big picture They have been sufficiently described as is.
There are several other places in the painting where adjacent shapes run together. Look at the buildings in the middle ground. The washes that describe the colors of the walls merge along partly soft edges. But the artist is keeping track of how much the shapes combine. He takes care to use hard edges, value contrast and color to keep the buildings separated enough to describe how the town is one thing made up of many.
The painting is a balancing act. Just where the artist is letting go of control of the movement of the paint, he is assessing how accurately he wants to describe the identity of the shapes.
Starting with a general statement and moving toward specificity, every artist finds their own stopping place, where the balance between accuracy and individual interpretation is realized.


                                         Chisnecean

Is this enough information for you?


                   
                                                                   Michael Reardon

How about this one?
How do you know when to stop? Do you want to show the viewer how you created the illusion of space or light, or do you hope to leave them marveling at your skill? Secrets and tricks...


Here are a few similar images. Choose one, identify what looks tricky and practice that. When you're ready, make a simple version in which you allow shapes to merge.


I want to put a mountain in the background!









2020-02-13T17:23:06.584-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor 2/6/20, Limited Palette

I've seen a lot of paintings that are troubled by too many colors but very few that require more. There must be something to learn here.

Every once in a while I like to revisit the benefits of a limited palette: Cohesiveness, authority, harmony...Who doesn't want a little of that?

Neutrals made from the colors that are used elsewhere on the page


Wyeth

Limited number of colors


Zorn


Dominant color



DeKooning



Look for an image that would benefit from a limited palette. Exaggerate, invent, interpret.
Have fun






2020-02-07T07:52:25.810-08:00


Beginning Watercolor 2/6/20 Value Studies

Understanding the role value plays in a scene or a photo takes us a long way toward translating the subject into paint on paper. The key to that understanding is seeing the subject as a sequence of layers that progress from light to middle value to dark. With practice, we learn to look through the darks and middle values to see how and where the lights need to be established. Devoting 15 minutes to making a step-by-step monochrome value study is a powerful tool for discovering what does the work in every new subject.

Everyone got a start in class on a monochrome value study. Please finish those for homework, and give one of the photos that follow a try. I am adding a black and white version of a couple of them. Even though that does some of the work for you, there is still real value in building your study layer by layer.

















2020-02-07T07:16:16.672-08:00


Beginning Watercolor Homework, 1/30/20 Layers: Light, Middle, Dark

So far we have been working from light toward dark in our painting practice, for example, the light cloud shadows go on before the dark ones. The idea is that it is much easier to put a dark on top of a light than vice-versa.
There is another compelling reason for following that progression. Shape by shape, the lights tend to be the most general statement about a subject. As the painting moves from light to middle value to dark, it also progresses from general to specific.





This image looks rather busy at first, but if you are thinking in layers it resolves into a simple step by step interpretation. Imagine if we could peel back the dark layer of trees and grasses. All that  would be left are 3 big, simple shapes, the sky, the hill and the ground. All three are blue, but the hill is the lightest. You could paint the whole page that light blue of the hill.
When the lights were dry you could mix up a moderately darker blue for the sky and the ground and paint everything middle value, except the hill, which would be left light. Are you following this? If it's confusing, read it again. 
At this stage of development the hill, sky and ground would be very  simple shapes, with no texture and nothing specific. 
Time to bring in the darks. I like to keep this final step simple, so I don't overwork the details. I prefer to err on the side of too little information.

Give this image a try. Here are a couple more.







2020-01-30T11:22:51.178-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor 1/30/20 Actual Soft Edges

It's one thing to think about where you might use soft edges and another to actually make them. In class yesterdayI saw several situations where the paper had dried before the soft-edged work was done. I think we would all benefit from some practice.

Here are some primarily soft-edged paintings by Seattle artist Dodi Fredericks She is mostly working on a wet sheet of paper with relatively thick paint.









This one and the one below are entirely soft-edged. The paint stays where the artist put it , with just a touch of diffusion.



The paper:
To give this a try, be sure to use 100% cotton paper, 140# or heavier. If you want to make a pencil sketch do that before you get the paper wet.
Soak the paper in the tub for 5 or 10 minutes. let it drip a bit before you lay it on your board. It should be uniformly shiny, so use a big brush to even out the wetness. Look for any air bubbles under the paper and smooth them out with the big brush. Depending on atmospheric conditions the paper will stay wet for at least 15 minutes.

The paint:
The Paint you now apply can be a lot thicker than what you would use on dry paper. Because your paper is very wet you can think of it as your water supply. You are essentially adding water when you bring a relatively dry brush to the wet paper. There is no need to keep dipping the brush in the water bucket. Whenever possible, plan the progression of colors from light to dark so you can just add some pigment to your brush without adding more water. If you feel you have to have a little more water on your brush, be sparing. It doesn't take much to pick up some new pigment. f you need to clean your  brush or switch to a new one, dry it a bit before you load it with paint. If it's too wet you'll get a bloom. You can usually test the wetness of the brush on a spot near the edge of the paper rather than right in the middle.           Read this paragraph again.

You can use Dodi's paintings for inspiration, or work from one of the photos that follow.



David Hibbard





2020-01-30T08:40:01.676-08:00


Intermediate Homework 2/22/20 The Easy Way

There's a long-term benefit to finding the easiest way to translate a scene into the language of watercolor. When you start looking for the most efficient route, you end up devising solutions and strategies that display a real economy of means. 'Easy' somehow turns into 'Magical".
The appeal of a very simple interpretation comes from the role the viewer plays in recognizing what he or she is seeing. When the artist presents just the essentials, the viewer supplies all the details.


John Singer Sargent describes the important aspects of the laundry very efficiently. He knew he wanted to show us the drape of the linens, - the weight of them, and how they hang - and he clearly intended to depict the bright sunlight. Once those essential aspects were present, he stopped describing the subject. 


Surely there was more information available, but Sargent knew that this simplification of the light and shadow told the story well enough. By no means has he told us everything he could see. He has treated the collection of linens as a single shape, for example, even though here was plenty of evidence that the individual items were separate from each other. The feeling that the sheets look "real " actually comes from our surprise at learning that this was all we needed to be shown. We - the viewers - are participants in the interpretation. Sargent provides what he sees as the essentials. Anything else, we  project.

The job of deciding what is essential and what is optional is not necessarily all about the "true nature" of the subject. It has more to do with being very clear about what you want to say. One artist's essence will probably not match another's. To choose which elements of your subject you want to display, you need to check your own feelings. The answer, as the cartoon guru says, lies within.




What do you think Edward Hopper wanted to communicate about the cars or the rocks? Was there more he might have added?



If you were getting ready to paint this scene, what would you want to be sure came through? Pick just a couple of aspects. 



How about this courtyard view? What seems essential to you?

Once you have fulfilled your intentions, the rest of the information you see can be left out. Just because you can see it doesn't mean it has to be in the picture! For example, if you wanted to communicate a feeling of serenity in your painting of the courtyard, it probably would not be necessary to make sure the viewer could tell what kind of plants are in the pots.

Before you begin painting, ask yourself if your intentions are clear.

If you use one of your own pictures, please bring the original in for the critique.

Sorry to be late with this. It never posted yesterday

2020-01-24T22:24:38.763-08:00


Beginning Watercolor Homework 2/22/20 Prolonging the drying time



Yesterday we experienced some rapid drying conditions while we were trying to paint multi-layer skies. The edges of the clouds were hard before we could even get two layers applied, making the shapes look more like baked potatoes than soft clouds. What can we do to keep the paper wet as long as possible? Is there anything we should do if hard edges appear before we're ready?

Let's look at the second question first. If you see hard edges where you intended soft ones, stop painting! It does no good to keep making hard edged marks. Instead, let the painting dry thoroughly and re-wet the area where you want soft edges. Then carry on making the soft clouds. Re-wetting is a powerful tool that takes away the feeling of panic. Just remember the paper must be all the way dry before you lay on a new layer of water. A little practice reveals the techniques and puts you back in charge.

Now, back to the question of prolonging the drying time. More water seems to be the obvious solution, right? What if you wet both sides of the paper? Or let the sheet of paper sit in the sink for a few minutes. You'll probably need to use somewhat thicker paint for the second layer to keep it from feathering too far.
 Here are a few paintings and photos to guide your experiments. Try counting how many layers it would take to paint them.










Image result for clouds





Image result for clouds




2020-01-23T21:16:54.230-08:00


Intermediate Homework 1/15/20 Foreground, Middle Ground, Background

Conventional watercolor wisdom insists that soft edged shapes appear more distant while hard edged ones advance to the foreground. Is that true?

What about color temperature? Do warm colors really come forward and cool ones go back in the illusory space?

Then there are the effects of atmospheric perspective, which compress the value range as we look farther into the distance.

How important is it to always "follow the rules"? How much does the illusion of space depend on making sure the viewer knows what your subject is?

Below is a gorgeous painting by Frank La Lumia that has a deep sense of space. He makes sure there is no confusion about where the shapes are relative to each other. What would happen if the foreground were cooler and the background warmer? How about softening the edges of that shed in the mid-ground and sharpening those of the background mountains? How much can we defy convention without destroying the illusion of space?


                                    Would you be willing to give it a try?

Here's one by David Taylor


Switch the color temperatures, making the reflections warm, for example.
See what happens. Maybe put some strong darks in the distance? Maybe not.


This one was mostly done with a credit card, but held to convention regarding color and value.
Have at it!

2020-01-16T11:56:39.024-08:00


Beginning Homework 1/15/20 Making a Smooth, Even Wash

Related image 
A watercolor wash is made from two or more strokes that touch or overlap.
 A smooth, even wash presents consistent saturation, where the whole shape has the same degree of concentration of pigment. The wash in the illustration is not obsessively perfect, but for my purposes it is "perfect enough". It  has no overlap marks and no blooms, where paint already on the paper is pushed aside by excess water.

                                         
                                                  Here's a bloom, usually undesirable
                                                                 

The homework exercise that follows is simple. Draw a rectangle about 4 x 8 inches and paint it as smoothly and evenly as you can. Simple, right? Easy? Maybe.

Make as many attempts as it takes to be able to make a smooth wash dependably. As you experiment to improve your attempts, compile a list of the variables at work. For example,

 1) the angle of the paper
2) mixed color or right from the tube
3) Quality of paper

You may be surprised by the number of variables you discover once you start thinking about it.
Please bring your washes and lists in to class next week.

Have fun

2020-01-15T11:00:30.393-08:00


Everyone's Homework 11/12/19 The Illusion of light

When it comes to creating a convincing illusion of light, watercolor has a head start. Light passes through the transparent washes of color, then bounces back to your eye, making the page feel as if lit from within.






Making a believable feeling of light is mostly about getting the values right. Color plays a role, as in the scene, above, but even with the color removed...




...the illusion remains.


Note that as the mountains step back into the distance, the range of values diminishes. The darkest darks and lightest lights are in the foreground. If the background shapes were as dark and as light as those in the foreground the sense of space would collapse. This phenomenon is not just a painter's trick, it is what we actually observe. The intervening atmosphere is full of reflective particles of moisture and dust that act like a translucent veil. The complexity of the scene also diminishes over distance, as you can see in the furthest mountain.



To be sure that the values you apply to each shape are relatively correct, remember to "bracket" the darks and lights by comparing them to each other. For example, the shadow on the mountain needs to be darker than the sky, but lighter than the trees in shadow. If you can't find anything darker than the shape you are about to paint, it must be the darkest thing in the scene. Converting the image you're working from to black and white makes this job easier, so go ahead and give yourself a break. Sooner or later, though, It would be good to know you can make value comparisons even when color is there complicating the task.





Feel free to make any changes you want, especially where you are simplifying the image. You won't really need to put in all the bricks, for example.




This one looks pretty easy, right? Can you please make it more apparent that this is hay, not rock?





Thank you, and have fun



2019-11-10T14:00:29.748-08:00


Beginning Watercolor 11/6/19 Essential or Optional?

Here are a few images that might benefit from some editing before being interpreted in watercolor. Or, maybe not. You decide.



One of the big trees has a shape similar to the leaning rock tower. Does it need to be removed? 
All that texture in the dark green trees could be a distraction. What if you just painted it all as a simple green shape, with no texture at all? What about removing all the trees? 



The silhouetted hills just across the water are very dark. Should they be lighter? Should they be dark brown instead of black? And what about the pointy saw teeth along the top edge of the hills? Would it be better to have fewer of them, like, none, for example?





Too many shapes!
Some of them have got to go. Big ones, little ones? Near? Far? 

How will you decide what you can afford to edit out and what you ought to keep?
The best way to see whether something belongs in the scene is to leave it out. If you don't miss it, it's optional.

Have fun





2019-11-06T22:12:55.644-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor 11/6 Fill in the Blacks

Having practiced inventing and exaggerating last week, you might be ready to liven up some deep black holes in the images below. In an attempt to display subtlety in the lightest areas, cameras often make the darks into empty spaces, devoid of imagery and information. Your job is to adjust the color or value or edge quality to awaken those dead zones. You can look into the dark shapes and exaggerate whatever you think you see, or invent the kind of life and movement you think belongs.













  







2019-11-06T21:22:54.990-08:00


Intermediate Watercolor Where do I Need Hard Edges?

We've all seen paintings that suffer from too many hard edges. Often, if we pay more attention to content than form, the individual parts of the scene insist on being kept separate. A hard edge is the best way to ensure that, but the result can be a jigsaw puzzle that is difficult to see as a cohesive whole.
Deciding which edges in the forest really need to be hard is tricky when we are all wrapped up in doing justice to the individual trees.

Working under the assumption that the best way to see if something needs to be in the painting is to leave it out, I recommend making a study that has no hard edges at all. When it is finished, the study will tell you where more focus is required. It also helps to have a limit in mind, say, half a dozen strokes, so you can identify the most important spots.




You may have to wet both sides of your paper to get it to stay damp long enough


For homework, choose an image that has lots of shapes, and paint a version that is all soft edges. Part of the exercise is to practice the techniques involved in keeping the shapes blurry without losing definition altogether. The awareness skills that are at work include noticing as soon as a hard edge appears, and stopping right there. Then dry the paper, re-wet the relevant areas and continue.
Assess the study, with an eye toward where it needs greater definition. Make the hard-edged additions one at a time, and stand back each time to see if that's enough.




2019-10-31T10:58:58.670-07:00


Beginning Watercolor 10/31 Careful / Carefree

Many scenes and images rely mostly on the final layer to give the shapes meaning. The role of the strong darks in the sequence of layers can sometimes be obvious even before you begin painting.





This scene, for example, is made up of almost nothing but strong darks. It's clear that by themselves, the darks would be sufficient to tell the story. The layers that would come before the darks could be applied in a most carefree manner, with the confidence that the narrative content of the scene would be provided later. This increases the likelihood that some of the beautiful, confidently applied paint would still be visible when the painting is done. It's an opportunity to let the paint flow, which is why we came to watercolor in the first place.

Sometimes the role of the darks is not as clear cut as in the snowy dusk scene. 


There are plenty of light and middle value shapes in this photo, which can confuse your eye, but imagine what the scene would be like if all we saw were the darkest darks. Notice how the top of the green building and half of the red one are outlined in dark. If the big, lighter shapes had gone outside the lines those outlines would pull the picture back together. The dark doorway and windows would establish the frontal plane of both buildings, while the cars and their shadows would show us where the ground plane is.

Here's a rough version of the final layer by itself:


When you are not sure how much of the narrative content of a scene is carried by the final layer, try making a quick study of just the darkest darks. Basically, we are looking for an answer to the question, "When in the sequence of layers do the shapes get their identities?"

Not every scene is held together by the darks alone. In the selection below, all but one get their meaning late in the sequence of layers. Can you tell which one relies on some careful attention earlier in the painting process?

Make a "darks only" study of a couple of these, then pick one to paint that tests the ability of the final layer to pull it all together. Be really splashy with the earlier layers! The messiest painting gets the prize.





















2019-10-31T10:27:20.515-07:00


Beginning Watercolor 10/24/19 Light to Dark and General to Specific

Whatever  you decide to paint, day to day, it can often be made easier by looking at the subject as a sequence of layers. Landscape, still life or portrait, most realist watercolors progress from light to dark. The transparency of the medium makes it easier to put dark on top of light than the opposite. At the same time, paintings tend to progress from general statements to gradually more specific ones.


In this scene the sky is lighter than the skyline. It would be easiest to paint the sky first and then put the skyline down on top of it. Any other order would require matching the edges of the shapes, making them adjacent to each other rather than subsequent.


The shadow shape on this face is darker than the local skin color. It would be logical to begin by painting the entire head with the light tone we see on the right side of the face. The shadow could then be painted on top of the first layer. The strong darks, like the hair, nostrils, and lips could most easily be applied on top of layer number two. Light, middle, dark.


At the same time, the likeness progresses from general to specific. The first layer, which is a pale silhouette, has no features or idiosyncrasies yet. It could be one of a great number of heads. But once the shadow shape is applied as a second layer the face begins to take a more specific form. It gains three-dimensionality, and it is bathed in light. The third layer, the darks, brings greater specificity, revealing the mood, the age and the identity of the sitter. 

In the early stages of the painting, the faith that the darks will establish the individuality of the subject allows the painter to work in a carefree manner. Layer number one can be more casual than number two, which, in turn can be looser than number three. 

Here are a few images that resolve neatly into light, middle and dark value shapes. You can also use the ones above. It is useful to ask when the shapes get their identity, so you will know when you  need to be careful and when you can be carefree . Keep it simple.















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Intermediate Homework 10/24/19 Exaggerate! Invent! A La Derain

These pairs of images are meant to invite a bold approach to choosing colors. You can see that the values are believable, but the colors are something else. Do you think  Derain was observing the actual colors? Was he exaggerating them, or maybe inventing them, entirely? Keep color temperature in mind when you choose your interpretation. 











Use the photo as the source of value relationships. Let Derain's paintings give you courage to explore.





This may be Derain by Matisse or Derain by Derain. The web is confused. I'm guessing it's a self portrait.





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Intermediate Homework 10/17/19 Invent, Exaggerate, Explore

Invent? Exaggerate? Explore?

You know what I'm talking about...
Reality is just a jumping off place. In class we all got involved in holding onto accuracy of values and letting go of everything else. Color, for example:







Derain



                                                 Not as wild as it first seems, perhaps. 

Below are a few images that rely on a simple dark/light pattern for their structure. Desaturating a photo makes it easier to keep track of the values.














Have fun 

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Page created: Fri, Apr 03, 2020 - 09:05 AM GMT