Month: April 2021

Cherry Blossom Bokeh

Sometimes I have too much fun making up titles for my posts!

This is a colored pencil exercise I did, just because. I used the more highly textured side of a piece of Mi Teintes pastel paper, choosing a rather grey paper with threads of darker grey running through it. I drew the cherry blossoms on with a graphite pencil and then laid down a rather heavy layer of whites, greens and brown for the blossoms, leaves, and branch. From there, more colors, burnishing and blending. Finally, I scribbled in a turquoise background, followed by layers of blues and lighter colors as well.

Initially, I decided to use a tortillon to blend the background colors, attempting to emulate the bokeh one sees in photographs. Bokeh is a wonderful bit of photography at times, achieved either via the lens itself, or distance between the object in focus and the next object behind the primary one. To blur colored pencil requires a lot of pencil color and a bit of elbow grease. Not quite what you would get when blending pastels.

Never having done it, but interested in the effect, I took a small amount of odorless mineral spirits, a soft brush, and began to blend the colors in the background. Where there were heavier layers, the colors blurred and blended more readily. I waited for the mineral spirits to evaporate and then added more color. More blending, this time painting around the cherry blossoms and branch with the loosened pigment. More drying. Finally, a bit of blending – very little, with a very light touch – of the leaves and blossoms. To complete the drawing, sharp colored pencils were used to enhance the branches and yellow pollen in the center of the blossoms.

I decided to try bokeh in colored pencil as I think that is what my teacher said we will be doing in our class Thursday morning, as well as drawing on black paper. This was a fun exercise and like everything, doing equates learning and understanding. Let’s see what Thursday class will bring . . .

More Roses

I enjoy watching videos on YouTube to see how other people paint or do things. This study is based on a video by Lena Rivo, a gouache artist I quite admire.

Roses are also a part of my own gardening – I have a number in bloom right now, although this year they seem a bit off . . . Nonetheless, painted or in bouquets or in the garden, roses are a delight to nearly all of us!

Spring in Hill Country

While we have not had much rain this year, the countryside still has fields of wildflowers, mostly lupines and poppies.

Today, I decided to just paint, not think too much, to see if I could get a good sense of value. I did a couple of paintings. I used hot press paper, whereas I normally use cold press when I paint. I tried two different brands, and the Arches won out.

1st Colored Pencil Class

Nothing like learning a few things! I’ve drawn with colored pencils on a very causal basis, but what I learned today included: use of Saral, a waxy transfer paper; use of burnishing and blending pencils. Never heard of those before today, but used all three.

Where to begin? I got there 30 minutes late – I thought class began at 9:30 but, no, 9:00. Oh, well.

Subject was a rose. Place the Saral between the picture you are going to use as reference and the paper you are going to draw upon – like carbon paper. Press hard to be sure it is on the drawing surface. Then, remove the Saral, and use a rubber eraser to blot the lines. This lightens them so you can still see them, but not so dark they are obvious. The paper we used had a bit of tooth, to catch the colors, and we worked from light to dark, white to reds and pinks and into the greens of the leaves. The suggestion was to moosh up a background to keep the rose from floating in space, so I did.

When I got home, I was interested in trying my hand on different papers. I have some bristol paper, which is a very smooth and very white paper.

This paper is so, so smooth that it is actually slick. As a result, colors are blended into one another very easily. I think the Prismacolor Premier pencils may be too soft for this paper and a harder, oil-based pencils, such as Polychromos, may be better suited for bristol.

The next experiment was done on some of my MiTeintes pastel paper; here, a mid-blue. I sketched directly onto the paper, using a very pale yellow pencil to create the general shapes as well as limn in the lights and darks. I decided to look at values the best I could, as well as whether they values tended toward warm or cold. The sunlight was dappled on the leaves, with some bright yellow green, and other a deep, blue-green tending toward black.

Out of all of these, I like the galangal the best. I like it because I had gotten a better sense of how to use the colored pencils, learning some of their characteristics and qualities. The blue background adds to the picture. The light and dark colors worked pretty well, and remembering to use complementary colors to dull down shadow areas I think kept the vibrancy. So, for a yellow-green leaf, the shadow colors were a purplish red, or a layer or two of each.

I don’t know if colored pencils will become a big love in my life, but I do enjoy drawing. My Pencil Portrait class was a real joy. I think I learned a lot in it, and moving to colored pencils is interesting. Shades of grey in graphite now are translated (or attempted to be translated) into values in color – something that is very, very challenging for me.

Magnolia Blossom

The last day of my Pencil Portrait class was last Wednesday morning, and it was a rather sad time for me. I have learned so much. The next session will be in the classroom, on a morning which is not good for me. Interestingly, by happenstance, by good luck, I came home and found out that a colored pencil drawing class begins this coming Thursday! Thursdays are always open in my schedule . . . . Email can be great – if you read it!

I am not sure what to expect from a colored pencil class, much less in a socially distanced and masked classroom. Hopefully it will work out well, and the teacher will be logical and good. It is not often that you see such an offering as more traditional media classes are apt to be offered.

In my library I have a few books on colored pencils, so I dug them out. One that is really a rather interesting one is called “Creative Colored Pencil Workshop” by Carlynne Hershberger and Kelli Money Huff. It combines pencils with other media. The magnolia blossom is a quick take on one of their very first studies. I like to warm up so I will be doing a bit of colored pencil drawing over the next few weeks, but plan to really continue to work on painting in gouache and / or watercolor as well.

Apricot & Cherries

Apricot & Cherries from “Color Mastery” course by Lena Rivo

This morning was the last day of our Pencil Portraits in the Park class, and it was sad and fun and productive. Hopefully our teacher will offer it again. As we are outdoors and all vaccinated, most of us go maskless. In the classroom, two hours of wearing masks would not be fun.

After class, a trip to the store and then home for lunch, a nap, afternoon coffee, and continuing the repeating of my following along with Lena Rivo in her “Color Mastery Essentials” class. For this study, she wants the student to see how things are done – give an overview to the novice – but as I have already a bit of experience, I followed, paused the video, painted, backtracked, and so on.

My study is not particularly elegant or well done, but the experience is what was important. I know more about color mixing, but the lessons also mentioned mixing the gouache directly on the paper, painting the main subjects first (guess what they were!), doing the shadows, and then painting the negative space – the background – around them. From there, refinement, such as stems, fixing shapes, etc. I decided to add some prints to the tablecloth in colors I had left on my palette, and rather like the way it pulled everything together a bit.

To be continued . . .

Carp Diem Gouachensis

A Study from Lena Rivo’s “Color Mastery” Class – Value Exercise

Awhile back I enrolled in an online class offered by a gouache artist, Lena Rivo, whose work I admire. The class is called “Color Mastery Essntials” and I have found it to be such a pleasure.

I have been painting with gouache since around 2019, and the first task was to get comfortable with the medium, learning its quirks. Every medium needs a level of study that comes simply through experience, and then, once experience is gained, refinement of that experience. Lena Rivo can be found on YouTube, painting in oils, acrylics, and gouache. Her style is simple, her colors are very clean and vibrant. Because mud is my middle name, I thought her class would be worth a try.

Was it? Most definitely. I have gone through nearly all the modules, and am doing them another time. This one is what caught my attention today – value. I really don’t see value but with the exercises in her class, values are becoming more and more visible. The above exercise was about values. The light colors of the fish contrast sharply with one another, some being darker and others being lighter than the water. Besides value, the question is what temperature do you see within the values? Warm? Cold? I never really thought about things this way.

If you want to see Lena Rivo’s work on YouTube, click here, and for her website, click here. There are free downloads about how to improve your art and an excellent guide for painting with gouache. A gallery of her work is eye candy, filled with beautiful colors. Flowers, people. landscapes, the sea and more are all represented here. You can also find links to her courses.

I won’t go into too many details of the class I enrolled in, as it is her class, but I will say I do recommend it. It is clear and logical, moving from simple to more complex. Topics covered include how to keep your colors vibrant, even in shadows, how to evaluate light and dark, and steps to take to evaluate what you see to create your own, original painting.

In all honesty, I tend to be skeptical about online learning, mostly because live online learning can be very poorly done. The same with a class that is prepared and self-paced by the student. Lena Rivo’s class is not dull, it is interesting, and full of important details that don’t overwhelm. Each lesson builds on the previous, and repeating modules effects learning more with each round.

I plan on continuing to repeat what I’ve already covered because I am seeing it again, with new and more experienced eyes.

Oopsie!

I have a few blogs, this one, a general one, and a photography one. I thought I had posted these paintings here, but they were on the general one.

I have been busy cleaning up my house, spending hours moving and discarding, selling and donating. In between I did some art work, gardening, and the daily drudgery. I will say, I did go out shopping the other day and got some new clothes – a semi-annual thing.

Anyway, in between daily nonsense, I have been trying my hand at things I don’t feel comfortable doing. Buildings and people are the most common issue. Boats also fall into that category.

I sat down one afternoon and did three paintings. This was the first, focusing on shape, shadow, light and dark, warm and cool.

More confident after the first foray, I chose one with more detail, specifically the slats making up the sides of the boat. Add to that algae, more light and dark from shadows. Rust seems to be part of the painting, or perhaps it is just flaked paint remains on wood.

Finally, I turned to Winslow Homer for boats. He has painted all kinds in all sorts of weather and places. This is from one he did in the Caribbean or Florida or the Gulf of Mexico. I just took the boat and tried to look at how Homer caught the light, the sky and water, and the shadows on the white boat and sails.

Boats are actually pretty simple, but their shapes are disguised. Draw a square or rectangle, at least two. Have them overlap. Then connect the corners with curved lines, and you have a boat. Depending on the style, the front is usually pointed, but the rear could be flat or pointed, too. To learn and see about all types of boats, click on this Wikipedia link, and then choose a boat. For kicks, I chose Z. Go take a look!