Tag: brushwork

Hue, Value, Intensity

Since February or March of this year I have been taking a series of online classes, complete with live Zoom meetings, with Ian Roberts. He has been the best online teacher because he is so diverse in his interests and he brings them into the world of creativity. I admire his artwork, too, and think his book on composition is an excellent resource. For me, art is more than a pretty picture – it is an expression of a person, a skill, a view point. All of this, in a painting, is more akin to me than any other form of art, such as photography or music. While I enjoy them, I just am not as I entranced by them as I am by color, paint, and the process of painting.

That said, the first of the three courses was about drawing and values, not as an art in and of itself, but as a means to move forward into preparing for a painting. Next came brushwork, using black and white to render shades of grey and to learn about value. By adding yellow ochre, the next step was discerning warm and cool variants of color – or monochrome. Finally, we have come to the third and final class in this series – colorwork.

What is color? As the title says, color varies with hue, value and intensity. This week our job is to mix greys from complementary colors. Easy enough – or is it? Part of it will depend on medium used, and then, it also depends on warmth and coolness of colors. Our preliminary palette begins with a warm and cool color of each of the primaries, along with white if necessary. Cool colors are Cerulean Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Cadmium Yellow Lemon. Warm colors are Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light, and Cadmium Yellow Deep. I have stuck with these three colors and a bit of titanium white gouache where I couldn’t keep the highlights, or lost them in my painting, or forgot about them altogether!

Pretty dull painting! It makes me think of the Upside Down. The point of this study was to take the clashing and garish still life Ian Roberts provided and tone it down – dull down the colors. I am using watercolors here, and I used complementary colors to tone things down but still leave the original color recognizable. The foreground cloth was bright lavender-violet; back behind squash a dark blue, wall on the left a sea green. Bowl is pinkish rose, apples green, and squash an orange with ridges casting shadows. Some shadows were hard edges, others blurred together. It was a hard exercise because I had to test my colors over and over again on a piece of scrap watercolor. This was on Arches 140# CP.

Our next study was a very low key (low key in color intensity) landscape. Evidence of a hazy day dulled all the colors so that while they were warm and cool, they all were similar in tonality. The above scan of my painting in black and white showed me I did accomplish by and large, especially in the field that makes up the lower 2/3 of the painting. The colors were very soft without a lot of bright or intense colors; rather, they all sort of blended into each other when I squinted my eyes. Only a few areas of dark contrast stood out – on the right of the field in the curve, and the bottoms of the trees at the edge of the field.

As you can see, there are no colors of high intensity. They are soft and subtle, even when dark. Hue means variations of color – and there are several, and as this is watercolor the colors are transparent and can be laid over one another or blended, depending on the wetness of the paper. The values are all in the middle of the spectrum. I used Kilimanjaro 300# Bright White paper, and this is a 10×10 inch square. My palette here are only the 6 colors I mentioned above, without any white at all.

In many ways, the still life is more “my style” insofar as the colors are laid in rather heavily. The landscape involves a more delicate and patient approach to the colors. Both were very challenging in their own way, but each taught me a lot. I liked the limited palette as I was forced to stay within its parameters, but could still achieve a lot of lovely colors, as well as darks and lights.

More to come . . .

Trees, Late Afternoon

Third and last of a photo I took earlier this month in Independence, CA, before being driven back home because of Covid. I am not sure which of the three of these paintings I did of the same photo I like best (you can back track on this blog if you want to see them, or go to Instagram!), but this one, in acrylic, was by far the most time-consuming.

I used 16×20 Arches 140# CP paper and a variety of acrylic paints, but first I laid down a few layers of gesso to prep the surface of the paper. The first layer of gesso was thinned with water and brushed on quite firmly to work it into the paper itself. The paper warped as watercolor paper does, but I was really happy to see it flatten out with the second, thicker layer of gesso.

Most of my brushwork tends toward dabbing on dots, which is great for pointillism and impressionistic painting, so I worked at creating lines, as seen on the grasses in the background, along with using a flat brush and using its tip or sides to work paint in a more up / down, side-to-side manner. My next painting is going to include these types of brush strokes, just because. It never hurts to try things you don’t usually do.

Every type of media – watercolor, gouache, acrylics – has its own “language” – that is, the way you have to work with it. Acrylics are rather heavy on paper and I need to think ahead for what I want to do. I tried the slower drying acrylic paints, and just did not like them. As a result, the ones I use tend to dry rather quickly. Filling the palette with every color I think I might want to use is a waste of paint. Instead, I have to plan, not like a general, but certainly I need to anticipate what comes first, what comes next, and so on. I also have to think about brushes and brushwork. Painting can be spontaneous, but it also needs experience to allow for more success (however you want to define “success”) than failure.

One thing I considered for this painting, but did not do, was to lay down a glaze to unify it. Chicken! Maybe I will come back to it later. Now, two things are on my next painting agenda: buildings and no dabbing! And maybe a glaze . . .

The Bridge

Take a look at this!

NOT a landscape!

This is really unusual for me – buildings and people intimidate me. However, by painting nearly every day I am gaining confidence in my abilities.

Also, the use of extremes in light and dark are another oddity for me, as well as the limited palette, the colors of which were primarily cad yellow and violet of some variety. White, too, along with some sienna, ocher, and ultramarine.

Painting really means learning a lot of things: how to use color, composition, brushwork. It is here that using a wide, flat brush to paint the buildings rather than my usual preferred rounds that I was able to achieve 90% of the painting. I was rather surprised by myself, and the result.

Penstemon

Penstemons are simple flowers – tall, elegant, plain – with an incredibly beautiful red-orange flower.  They are another one I photographed last weekend at the botanical garden.  Maybe today I’ll venture out to the cactus garden to see what blossoms may be up there!

Here, I decided simply on using a brush, a stiffer one than a red sable, to focus on how the brush responds to pressure, paint, and amount of water.