Tag: contrast

A Few Flower Studies

When you find an artist whose work you like, and who is also a good teacher, an online class can teach you a lot! The nice thing with videos is that you can watch them over and over, catching little things with each viewing.

Shari Blaukopf is a painter that I admire. Her watercolors are clean and fresh. She also has a really nice online personality, whether it is on her blog or in her recorded classes. I’ve made comments on her blog and she replies; I have uploaded a painting or two, and she is always gracious. One day it would be nice to take a class with her in person.

Anyway, I have / am taking two of her courses on flowers. One is painting wet-in-wet flowers, and the other is painting fresh cut flowers.

The above one is from the wet-in-wet flowers class. The paper is wet on both sides after the initial pencil sketch is done. The paper is then blotted. And from there, you go to town! It was really fun to see how the paper and paints all worked together. Not a great rendition, but the experience is the most important part as that is how you learn. My contrast issues are not too bad.

The hydrangeas are from Blaukopf’s course on fresh flowers. She does three different flowers – a blue salvia, then echinacea and black-eyed Susans, and finally the hydrangeas. I’ve done the salvia, but have yet to do the second one. I wanted to do the hydrangeas especially because of the delicacy of colors involved, as well as work on the contrast and negative painting, the latter which is just as much as a challenge for me as good contrast! Having been very frustrated with my colors always being too intense, this was also a good challenge for me with pigment and water control.

The past few days have been spent practicing free-motion quilting for a class this morning, so it was really a treat to wade back into painting. I love flowers, so painting them is the challenge, especially as I prefer a looser rather than more precise rendering of them. I think precision can be a lot easier than abstraction.

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.

Tanglewood (Pastels)

Another series of three to emerge from this Land of Pandemica, where house arrest prevails and imagination runs wild!

I took this picture about a month ago, just as the shelter-in-mandate order came down from on high.  I really like this picture because of its moodiness and the brightness of the leaves.  It looks pretty mysterious, but in reality that is an effect of the editing.  Still, I like it enough to give it an attempt for a number of reasons!  There is a rhythm in the trees and their curves.  The leaves on the ground lie fairly horizontally, while the green leaves are vertical.  All these conspire to challenge me . . . So, without further ado, below is the first attempt, in pastels as today is dedicated to pastels!

As you can see, I moved the leaves from vertical to a bit more diagonal.  I also added some “stuff” to the lower left corner as the original photo was pretty dark and lacking in detail.  The floor of last year’s leaves are more orange than beige.  I tried to pay attention to my marks – the stroke of the pastel stick – as well as to doing some negative painting to help the lighter areas stand out.

I am a fairly pleased with this painting.  Pastels are more forgiving than either gouache or watercolor – especially watercolor! – and because of this, I can think about contrast and structure a bit as I go along.  It may make the final one (watercolor) easier to do after the next one, which will be in gouache.

 

Castle, No Lines

Besides doing the orchid yesterday, I sat down and did what is being called”direct watercolor.”  As in sumi-e, the artist thinks about things before committing brush to paper.  No lines.  No value studies.  Look, see, think, paint.  It is a bit of a challenge and rather daunting, but I think this is such an enlightening way to learn the art of brushwork, value, contrast, and so on.  I did some glazes here and there, to create contrast as well as to carry various colors throughout the painting.  I also worked with vignetting, considering the shapes of the four corners of the vignette as well.

Daffodil Season, 2

Painting flowers well is a lot more difficult than it seems.  Part of it is just getting the colors correct, and the shadows.  A sense of depth and shape is not quickly achieved for me at present – I am still trying to get that.  Still, doing a quick morning watercolor before work is a good exercise as I think about various things.  This daffodil is from this morning – I spent about 20 minutes on it from beginning to end before getting ready for work.

Tonight, I plan to do another daffodil, preparing for it by making a value study in pencil.  This morning’s painting, and yesterday’s, were done directly onto the paper, preceded by a pencil sketch on the paper.  Let’s see if a value sketch proves to lead to a more successful sense of contrast and depth.

Lines of Bodie

Today I ventured out on my own, influenced by practice sketches by Peter Sheeler and his videos.  This is from a photo I took in 2016 up at Bodie, California, when it was moving toward noon on a hot, hot day in August.

I rather like the composition, particularly the lines of poles marching over the hill in the distance.  If you ever have been to Bodie, you know it’s a long drive down a long and bumpy washboard road.  The telephone poles and lines emphasize the town’s isolation.  As far as painting the subject matter, I started out with a line drawing, painted, and then came in again with the ink pen.  It was so, so, so hard to not try to draw and paint every line and rock.  Simplification was a big challenge for me.

As I painted, I worked hard to recall what I have learned doing the practice studies.  Keeping things simple also meant keeping the palette simple, and the brush choice as well.  I started out with sky in Cobalt Blue after wetting it down with a big round brush.  Then I kept myself isolated to a dagger brush – first time to use one, too.  The remainder of the palette included Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Sap and Hooker’s Green, and by accident, a tad of Indrathene Blue.  The paper is 5×7 Arches Hot Press and taped down with a 3M painter’s tape with specialized edge-sealing qualities, which really worked to keep the tape from pulling up as it got wet.

Overall, I like the lack of mud and the contrasts I developed between light and dark.  Pen and ink come to save the day again!

California Oak Trees

Today, my little Meetup group went to a local place, the trail by the Chumash Museum nearby my house.  (The Chumash are a California tribe.)  We were there for about an hour.  I began with a pencil sketch, and then, color.  We were settled in a small oak grove, with dark and light contrast about as contrasty as you can get.  At the end of the hour, this is what I had painted, knowing full well I would look at it and work it a bit once home.

Once home, I looked at the painting.  Still a need for contrast, and a bit more detail.  More pen, more ink brush, more colors, and some warmth.

Overall, the one above came out okay, but if you look on the mid-right, to the left of the furthest trunk, there is a bit of an odd space, so I went in and worked it a bit with ink to try to mitigate it.  I found it very distracting.  Here is the final image below.

The area has a few more lines in it, a bit busier, but somehow more in keeping with similar areas of the painting.

I used Koi watercolor brushes and the following paints:  Quinacridone Gold, Naples Yellow, Hansa Yellow Medium, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine Blue, Indanthrene Blue, Phthalo Green, and Burnt Sienna.  I used a Stillman & Birn Beta Series 8×10 inch softcover notebook, and scanned the images using my trusty, not rusty, Epson V600.  Ink is Carbon Ink, and an ink brush.