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 practice paintings. Negative painting will return in the not-too-distant future. Before all those negative painting exercises came in, I ran across the watercolors of Javid Tabatabaei. He has a wonderful way of painting skies reflected in water. His YouTube channel shows his tricks – definitely watch him if you want to see what magic he creates with a very simple method.
Normally, I paint the sky first, and then I do the distant hills. Water on the ground is left to last. Tabatabaei strokes in the sky and the water where the colors of the sky are reflected, but he leaves areas of bright water white or with a light tint of gold or yellow or blue, depending on his needs. For the sun, he paints around the circular shape of the sun; he does the same for the moon. Other times he will lift the paint. This technique creates a lot of drama.
Below are a couple of studies I followed on YouTube as well as a copy of a painting from Tabatabaei’s Instagram account, to see if I had learned from his demonstrations. I did. And to tell you the truth, this is one of the most fabulous ways I have ever seen for painting water and sky in watercolor – a big thanks to Mr. Tabatabaei for sure! Very simple, very elegant.
The above is my first attempt to follow Tabatabaei’s technique; this is from a YouTube study I seem to be unable to find at present. This is also on HP paper by Fabriano, and I was not really in a comfort zone as far as using it. Still, it worked out quite nicely. Here, I tried to lift out the image of the sun, but it really didn’t work. White gouache failed too. So, a painting lacking in success in a lot of ways but that water and reflections are yummy!
The one above is also from a YouTube video by Tabatabaei. He has a couple of YouTube channels, come to think of it. That may be why I am having problems finding them! This one and the one below are on Arches CP paper.
Finally, my version of one of Tabatabaei’s paintings using his water / sky technique. It worked out pretty good, I think, and I can see I am going to have a lot of fun painting water! Expect a monsoon or flood . . . of watery watercolor paintings.
Another rendering of another artist’s work! This is from a (what else?) YouTube video by Roland Lee, an American watercolorist who paints the national parks of Bryce and Zion with a beautiful and delicate touch.
The subject here, of course, is landscape, but here are more subtle renderings of nature – here, more trees – using negative painting. I added a few of my own touches, of course, but the point of the lesson was observed and learned to a degree. Not easy to do, not easy to follow, but I rather like the results. More practice to come, too.
Learning from a paint-along is rather fun, at times daunting. I used to think of my paintings all as “failures” because I never replicated the teacher’s work. Of course, that is silly, but until I could let it go, as well as become more adept at watercolors and skilled in their handling, my own paintings would be disappointments. Now I am getting comfortable with my own style, if there is one, as well as how I handle everything. Skills are building.
Done on Arches CP 140#, 9×12.
And here is the video to enjoy – Roland Lee is a good presenter – clear instructions and a deft hand. I know I will be looking at more of his over time.
Finally! I am dee-oh-en-ee. I took the painting I thought was sorta done, talked with my teacher, and we decided to add a few more flowers. So, I did, and signed my name on the left. On the right I have my digital signature.
I really enjoyed doing this painting. It is on 12×16 Fredrix canvas pad, primed with gesso, and painted over about a 3-4 week period. It is a pleasant break from monochrome – but that is for another time. Today, let’s enjoy Spring as we go up the hill.
For the past few months I have been taking a number of classes in watercolor and painting. Throw in an occasional Pencil Portraits in the Park classes, and you can see I get a bit busy.
Magpies like bright things, and I am convinced I am a magpie reincarnated. Hawaiian shirts are a particular delight. Color in any form, the brighter is usually the better, even if it borders on poor taste. Oddly, I do enjoy black and white photography – it can be quite beautiful and dramatic – but painting value studies, monochrome, has eluded me as something to enjoy – until now!
I have been taking an online class from Ian Roberts for the past few months. It began with value studies in pencils. Now we are doing value studies in paint. Some people are painting in watercolor, others in acrylic or pastels; I decided to try out oil paints for the first time in years – nay, decades – and am pleased with the results. It is a hell of a lot of fun to moosh around paint and be able to moosh it around the next day, unlike acrylics. (You can also use gouache to pretty much the same effect.) With our weekly Zoom meetings on Saturday mornings, Roberts is providing great feedback and a personal, technical, and esoteric touch to what are foundational elements in art.
Above is my first oil monochrome. I didn’t do a great job of replicating the picture, but I did get reacquainted with how to use a brush with oils. I am using hog bristle filberts if you want to know. While we are working on values, we are also working on leading the eye. Here, not a lot of success as the road or white area in the mid left is too bright – the eye is to be led to the right.
This is from the second week. Focus is on values and edges, the latter being hard or soft or vanishing. I enjoyed this a lot, even though my sphere needs a bit of anchoring! It really helped me to see a bit more sharply.
Roberts did a demo version of the still life, and then left us to find our own way with the landscape. Oils are a bit of a challenge to use because of their long drying time if you want to paint over something. As a result, I cannot scan them, but have to take a photo while they dry. Wet surfaces are a bit shiny, and the texture of the paint and canvas are more challenges to creating a digital image. This study made me see things differently, and one element I had to do was to edit the photo – simplifying it – to work a bit on the painting to make it work. Not great, but values are getting easier to produce.
Here is one of the two studies for the third week. I did this yesterday, outdoors on the patio. I lugged out this and that, found I forgot something, ran back to get it, and it was a Big Production. But a fun one! I still need to work on this one a bit – the 2nd pole on the right needs some sharpening and the road in the distance needs a bit of work. Once more, the photo is lacking, but what can you do?
So, my painting world is suddenly black and white, and I am enjoying it. I’ve decided to do “daily painting” when possible, on other subjects as well. It will be interesting to see where all these monochrome studies take me, and when Roberts lets us to add yellow ochre to our titanium white and ivory black to learn more about warm and cool values, I think the world will change even more . . .
If you have been following me for a bit, you know that I have enrolled in a lot of painting classes. This is a study from my watercolor class, online with Andy Evansen. His work covers a lot of subjects, but I like his ones of the natural world the best. So, lazy me, I stick with his photos of the wilds, but will, at some point, take the dive and do something with buildings and people, and maybe even cars.
I used frisket to create the hard edges of the birch trees and the snowy areas of the logs in the foreground. The other white areas, the snow, is plain paper, no frisket. After the frisket dried, I did the sky, sunlit mountain, and dark background. Then, a bit of the foreground. Finally, the frisket was removed.
When the frisket was gone, I worked left to right, creating the shadows of the birch trees. Upon those shapes I added heavier paint to create the blacks characteristic of birch trunks. Various other details got worked in. White gouache came in handy to clean up some of the birch tree trunks as well as to create the fine branches of the trees toward the top of the painting.
The only thing I have some issues with is the very large birch tree on the right, the one which stretches top to bottom. It is not quite right, but that is something for correcting later on. Despite that, I am pleased with what I am learning, and creating, with all these classes. Painting and drawing and artwork is in the forefront of my mind these days, and it is beginning to show in more “successful” paintings from my viewpoint.
9×12 CP 140# Arches paper; primarily watercolor with a touch or two of gouache. (Maybe 3 or 4 or more….)
I started this painting a few weeks ago, at the first class at the local adult school with a new teacher. This is from a photo I took some time ago. I was at the bottom of a hill, looking up.
This painting has taken a lot of time – several hours – but the work has been worthwhile. I have been applying the various principles I am slowly garnering from hours at the proverbial grindstone, memorizing techniques, concepts, whatever. For instance, I think this painting actually has a nice sense of depth and perspective – something I have struggled with for a long time. The light on the trees also pleases me, as do other bits and pieces of it.
I have also learned just through doing how to get the heavy body acrylic paint into a more viscous and enjoyable mess to paint with, and that is a big help! It’s a combination of matte medium, water, and the paint itself. I dislike the plasticky quality so often that accompanies acrylic paints, so even thought my colors are bright, I think they moosh together fairly well.
I’ll ask my teacher’s opinion when I see her next week. Meanwhile, here is (to my eye at present) finished work. Below is the photo which is the basis for this painting.
I am getting burnt out on these drawings! I decided to take a few days off and will pick up again tomorrow. Since I have committed to 30, I only 6 more to go by 4/17. I think I can handle that!
Cannon Beach, Oregon. Figure is too big, some foot prints too dark and too big in the distance.
Initially I had drawn this shack so that the beach and waves in the distance were parallel to the edge of the paper. After scanning it, I realized it looked better with a bit of an angle to it. Interestingly, a comment said it made no sense because the ocean is out there, straight ahead. Obviously, too realistic of a person, or someone who hasn’t taken a photo. Really, to me, a very interesting and odd comment and viewpoint!
Here is a scene of looking down onto a beach. The distant cliffs look okay, but the descent to the shore in the midground is definitely confusing.
During last Saturday’s zoom meeting, Ian talked about cross hatching. I use it a lot in ink drawing, but not in pencil since the idea for a lot of this 30-day challenge is to limit marks to horizontal and vertical. The idea is to create value studies, not finished drawings. Interesting lines do not make for good value studies of light, medium, dark. However, a simple use of lines, cross hatching, vertical, diagonal, horizontal, helps delineate shapes, such as curves. I based this drawing off a study of 3 pears by Cezanne.
These studies are making more sense and getting easier to execute so that shapes have shape, even if not always understandable.