Lacking in the lovely simplicity of Rick Surowicz’s painting “Flower Pot” from his YouTube video of the same name, this is my attempt to work with negative space in painting. He is a master – I am not.
Flowers are ridiculously difficult to paint because of their bright colors and unique shapes, not to say their varying leaves as well. And, it is truly difficult to convey a bouquet suggestively. I overwork flowers all the time. Follow below to see Rick at work.
If you have been following along here, besides Inktober 2019, I am also working my way through Rick Surowicz’s online class “Abandoned.” Here I am trying to apply some of the points learned in his class about greens, how to mix them, and how to create warm and cool greens to demonstrate environmental temperature and distance.
To mix a cool green, Surowicz used Cerulean Blue (to give coolness), Sap Green at times tempered with Pyrrol Red, Raw and Burnt Siennas. Varying the mixture in strength and dilution determines if it is light or dark. Here I applied the mixture to the hills behind the hut, as well as put a few streaks into the foreground.
Warm greens hold the same formula as cool greens except the Cerulean Blue is not used. The result is a warmer green, and depending on need, the Pyrrol Red is added, creating a darker green while keeping it in the warm arena. The Raw Sienna creates a warmer, yellower green, and the Burnt Sienna creates a more autumnal tinge to the grasses in the foreground.
In addition to creating warm and cool greens, I also worked on lines to demonstrate direction and texture, as well as to break up horizontal and vertical.
As a study, this has been successful. Critiquing it, I would say that the right lower portion of the stone hut should be lighter so as to contrast much better with the middle ground. Right now it recedes and gets lost.
Practice is important in all we wish to master – here, a practice study to apply some lessons.
One thing that makes Surowicz’s online YouTube videos, and now his class “Abandoned”, is the fact he is very informative about color mixing. Color is essential to convey distance – foreground and background – light, warmth.
Today I worked through 4 studies of color, using for the greens cerulean blue, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and then some pyrrol red to help temper the green. The neutral color is made up of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue.
This scan is of the first study. The cerulean and siennas were at the top, sap green at the bottom.
Surowicz says he mixes his color on the palette, which he demonstrates, using large areas to get a lot of color. He rinses his brush, blots his brush, and varies the amount of color on a brush to determine how light (more water) or how dark (less water).
These little swatches show not only color that is strong, but how they merge and blend when more water is added. The studies are for warm and cool greens, but I find it hard to determine them. The following studies are supposed to demonstrate the warmth and coldness a bit more.
Here we have a formula for a cooler green mixture: Cerulean blue, Sap Green and Raw Sienna. The area circled is demonstrably a cold green.
Here we now have a formula for a warm green: Raw Sienna and Sap Green. The addition of the Cerulean Blue is what makes the mixture cold. The two colors by themselves create a warm green, and the formula is not one I would have considered prior to this class. The Pyrrol Red is used to move the green to a more neutral state (red and green are complementary, and can negate each other when combined), but more green may be needed to return it to green – Pyrrol Red is intense! The red is also warm, so the green remains warm, even if neutral.
Finally, the well-known (at least to watercolorists) combination of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue. This is one of the most useful color combinations as it can range from pale to almost black. Many watercolorists use the two as a replacement for black.
This section of the class is really valuable to me. I actually can see the warmth and coldness of the greens in these color combinations. That is very important. Conceptually it is very important for me as I lack depth perception and am a magpie when it comes to colors. Subtlety is not in my vocabulary. However, that doesn’t mean I do not have an appreciation of soft colors – they just are not my first choice! The neutral tones with the Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue are some of my favorites, but it was a good study to remember the softness they can achieve as well.
Because of Inktober 2019, I may not get a chance to view “Abandoned” every day and practice, but I don’t want to allow more than one day pass between sessions. I am really into this class and enjoying it a great deal!
Today I moved forward a few steps, in part because I’ve been busy with other things. However, I am determined to work every day on this class, to keep myself from forgetting things. There is a lot to learn, even though it may not appear to be such.
Moving from the value studies, the next step is color value studies, for light, medium and dark, but also for warm and cool greens and neutral colors. To me, this is often an issue. I don’t perceive colors as “warm” and “cool” visually – I see them intellectually, meaning I know some formulas for mixes. This section of the course, then, is very important for me – it’s a road map for future work.
Cool green are achieved by using sap green with a tinge of pyrrol red, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and (to my surprise) cerulean. In the video, Rick mixes these colors and uses them for the trees in the background, behine and beside the house. Warm greens are created with raw sienna and sap green, with a tinge of pyrrol red to neutralize the sap green. These greens are used in the foreground grasses and bushes in front of the house. I can see the differences in my color study, but they are subtle. However, painting is a skill and learning such things, and memorizing them, adds to the basic skillset of painting.
Finally, using burnt umber and ultramarine blue (supposedly a warm blue!), dark values were created. These two colors often are used in painting to replace what we may consider to be black visually. Now we have a color study with values of light, medium, and dark. These should help with the final painting when considering what to do!
Besides explaining the usage of color, Rick states he does not mix his colors on the paper, but on the palette, getting the consistency he wants before applying it to the paper. Other painters take a color directly to the paper, and then mix as they go along. Both techniques have their points. I find my colors are more pure when I take them directly to the paper, but easier to turn to mud if not carefully done. The palette method of mixing colors allows for testing swatches of colors on scrap paper.
Looking at the above study, I think I want the trees behind the house to be a bit darker (more contrast?) along with the windows on the far left, second floor, of the house.
I’ve long wanted to try one of Rick Surowicz‘s online watercolor classes, but haven’t felt focused enough to take the time to do so. Yesterday I decided I was ready. His classes are not expensive compared to other artists’ classes – $39.00. I think that is a worthwhile investment. And a bargain. Surowicz has a number of videos on YouTube which I find so informative and educational that I thought a class with greater depth of what he does, how he thinks, would be a great benefit.
The class I decided on is called “Abandoned.” I can do okay with water and trees, but buildings and perspective are a problem. This was the primary reason for this choice. Additionally, there are structural elements, such as planes and angles and deciding proportions. I am not good at this at all!
So, today I sat down, downloaded and printed out the PDF files. I got out my sketchbook and did the preliminary work – sketches of four different compositions and value studies of two of them. (Click on one to see the gallery.)
Four Compositions for Consideration.
Studies of 2 of the 4 for Values.
Value Studies using White, Medium, and Dark Values.
I am full of good intentions, but very bad at executing them! I keep telling myself to do value studies, but don’t.
Making all these sketches -12 in total – came with an amazing “ah ha!” moment: drawing the same thing multiple times gets you familiar with it. I started learning where the chimneys were, the slants of the roof, the arches. The house became like a friend who you haven’t seen for awhile – but the features are so familiar.
Here, on the one with 3 values (white, medium, dark), Rick had us consider light from the left and light from the right. There are similarities and differences, and if you look, you will see them. This was fascinating as I have never done anything like this – I’ve done value studies, but not with a changing direction of light.
So far I am really pleased with the course content. Rick has an even pace when he speaks, and his reasons are clear. As someone who taught for many years, I tend to be highly critical of online courses. So far, I am very happy. Content is clear, and progresses logically. I am looking forward to continuing more tomorrow! Thank you, Rick!
In the spirit of details and edges to convey perspective, as well as the fact I was really intrigued by the water and rocks and such from yesterday’s painting, I went toRick Surowicz’s YouTube channel. I know he has a lot of videos, some which feature flowing water. I chose his study “Rushing Waters” to practice detail and edges along with perspective.
I am rather pleased with the way my version of this study came out. As I do these practice studies, I find I am beginning to rely on myself more and more for painting. In other words, 6 months ago I would bemoan the fact that my painting does not look like the photo or the painting I was using as a study. Now, while I look and learn from the instructions, I also am comfortable making my own painting decisions.
I really like Surowicz’s work. His attention to detail and ability to explain his process of painting really helps the person attempting to learn. This kind of knowledge sinks in with time, and it’s a lot of fun to see one’s own progress both on paper and in one’s head . . .
When I do studies like this one, and am pleased with the results, I think one day I will be a good painter. When? That is the question. Copying someone’s work is pretty easy once you get the hang of it – but what about producing original paintings which are not copies and practice studies of another’s?
I know that we all need to practice what we want to learn. Sometimes, though, it would be nice to “get there” more often than not!
This morning I went out and bought plants for the flower beds, had lunch and a nap, and then decided what I wanted to paint. Rick Surowicz just posted a new video on his YouTube channel called “Waiting for Spring.” On his personal website, he posted a sketch of the study as well as a photograph of the actual barn, and his final watercolor. If you haven’t checked out his channel, you should. He has so much valuable information. When I am feeling more focused, I want to try out his two classes as they are more detailed than his YouTube presentations, although they are detailed enough for anyone who wants to learn.
This video appealed to me for a number of reasons. One, perspective. This is a frontal view, so the roof line is pretty much a straight line across the top, parallel to the top edge of the paper. I got out my ruler and made both straight horizontal and vertical lines. From there, I roughed in the trees and shadows and bushes.
The palette was pretty simple – Rick posts the colors he used at the beginning, as well as mentioned that his Cerulean Blue is PB36 as opposed to PB35 – PB35 apparently is more greenish than PB36. This would be either DaVinci Cerulean or Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue Chromium. Of course, if you don’t clean up your paints, you could have just about anything.
What I learned from this video were a few things. One, mix colors on the paper as you move along. Specifically, on the roof, I moved from one color to the next, picking up paint and working it into the paint on the paper. This gave a nice effect. Another important thing was to realize that while I have flat brushes, most of mine, if not all, are rather stiff. Painting with them at times created problems as a softer flat brush would be a better choice in some areas.
I also realized I need to sort out my brushes better – put rounds in one area, flats in another, and riggers and other specialized brushes in another. I have a stand, and perhaps I shall use that next, or else I may just get individual holders – like jars or tins – to hold specific brushes in specific areas. I continue to learn!
As I look at this painting, I can see my confidence in handling color has come a long, long way. I plan to do a few more barns in the coming week, using photos from Pixabay. This way, I can practice perspective, use my ruler, and try to paint more confidently than I seem to do when I don’t have a video to follow.
More work with water and light. Here I thought about some of the exercises I have followed from Rick Surowicz’s YouTube channel – lines, curves, and dots to capture branches, light, and leaves. I think this painting worked out quite nicely.
Besides considering what I wanted in advance (a way of thinking that has taken a very long time to get to) by applying frisket, I also was determined to paint from light to dark and use glazing and blending. Areas of color were also considered, and rather than trying to paint each leaf, I painted blobs of color to represent the foliage. As a result, I built up layers of color throughout the painting as I moved along, and can say this is possibly the first painting in which I have done this.
I also had to be very patient! Frisket is not happy when you blow dry it – it gets all sticky and you have let it set up again. As a result, this 6×9 painting probably took a couple of hours to do. However, the results, for me, were definitely worth the time it took. Perhaps my impatience is lessening . . .
Wetness in watercolor varies. There are times when a very dry brush on dry paper is necessary to give sharp, clear edges to an object. Then there is wet-on-dry wherein washes are applied to dry paper with a lot of water. And finally, wet-in-wet, where wet color is applied to wet paper. As the paper dries, the color behaves differently. There is so much to learn in watercolor!
Of late, I have been painting with a lot of water and a lot of color. It’s a challenge, but daily painting is yielding better results overall. Not every day, but overall! Yesterday, I watched a number of videos, and did two studies based on videos by Rick Surowicz and Edo Hannema.
This one is from an early video by Surowicz. He used some frisket, but my bottle was not working, so I painted without it. I really needed it as his style is not just wet, but sopping wet! He uses a fine mist sprayer to scoot paint around. The result can be quite nice as you build layers of colors on layers of color. I did this painting on Strathmore 400 paper, a paper I don’t especially like, so I was quite pleased with how it handled all the water. The palette consisted of three colors – sap green, indanthrene blue, and a bit of Indian red.
Edo Hannema is a master of the wash. I enjoy using his videos as study guides. The above painting is my favorite of the two I did yesterday. The palette was limited to raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue. The green was a mixture of cobalt and raw sienna. One thing I really like about Hannema’s videos is he tells you when he thinks he makes a mistake, or needs to fix something in his painting, as well as tips on using colors. It’s rather like eavesdropping on the artist.
I decided to look at mists and soft edges because the other day Rick Surowicz posted a video about mist rising below a mountain ridge – Overlook:
This was a good video to watch on how to create a mist or fog. He also has another one called Misty Lake which was the one I used in my above studies:
Edo Hannema is a master at wet-in-wet techniques, which are great for fogs and soft effects. The horizon of this painting video demonstrates this quite well. The thing that is especially fun about the video below is the fact he took a painting he did of this scene in the summer and converted it to winter:
I find using practice videos helpful in learning techniques. They are also helpful in thinking about how I paint versus how I want to paint. Like many beginners, I put in far too much detail, and my own impatience impairs final results far too often. Letting the paper dry is important, and I am learning to do that – my hair dryer is hanging within easy reach! Leaving white paper is getting more “natural” in feeling, so I am thinking ahead as well.
Nowadays, I find I am plotting out paintings in my head. Daily painting is another big step forward as I now have the time to spend on it without a million other things demanding my time weighing me down with guilt – chores and duties or the pleasures of a hobby.
Today was another practice session using a study by Rick Surowicz on his YouTube channel. This one is titled “Snowy Creek’s Edge.” As with the one I did the other day, there is a lot of use of frisket, and this particular study with filled with it! Keeping areas white is important, and many watercolorists eschew using it – I know I sure did – but judiciously applied, it really does make painting easier. What I really liked is that it is an excellent way to express narrow bands of snow lying along slender branches and twigs. It also allows for creating negative space without painting tediously around things – a good skill to have, but at times not necessary.
Coming away from this, I am getting less caught up in copying Rick’s painting and using it as a point of study in watercolor technique, blending colors, and usage of tools and brushes. Tomorrow (unless the family Thanksgiving becomes a bit much during the morning) I plan to find a snowy scene, either from a photo I have taken or from a public domain image, and work more with snow in the landscape.