Friday, June 9, 2017

Intermediate and Beginning Watercolor Homework 6/8/17 What Matters Most

Here are a few images that require close attention to Value. To create a convincing illusion of light you would need to establish the range within which the value of any given shape would work relative to its neighbors.













Choose one that looks fun to paint. You may want to make a quick monochrome value study first. Make notes about the relative values of each shape. Where would you like to make adjustments for the sake of the painting? Not everything you see in a photo is best "as is".The foreground shadows in the Monument valley image, for example, are too dark. They come off as flat black shapes. If you were really there, you'd be able to see into those shadows and observe much more than the photo displays.

When you're confident about the relative darkness of the shapes, devise your palette. Make sure you select colors that can make a dark enough dark to tell the story. This exercise REQUIRES having a practice paper handy. Remember to bracket the values, looking for something lighter than the shape you are about to paint, and something darker. For example, in the graveyard scene, the headstone on the left is darker than the sunlit grass, but lighter than the shadows on the grass.
Feel free to paint more than one image.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Intermediate and Beginning Homework 6/1/17 Letting the Components of Your Color ixing Show

We've been focusing on neutrals lately, and we've touched on the idea of letting the components of your mixes be visible in their more intense forms within the washes you make. The figure offers a good opportunity to practice this, in both the local flesh tone and the shadows. Here are some examples of figures where the colors are left unmixed or are touched into a neutral wash that is still wet:













Look at the local color of the skin tones of the figures below. Try copying the colors, keeping track of  what you mix. In every case, I expect there was some of each of the primary colors involved. Experiment with allowing the component colors to remain incompletely mixed. You can start with a thorough mixture, where all the components have been mixed till they are evenly tinted throughout the wash, and then touch in a little of the components. If you're feeling brave, try double-loading your brush (loading more than one color at a a time).  Do the same for some of the shadows. 













This should be good practice for working from the model next week. If you have some large drawing paper (11x14" or larger), please bring a bunch for the short poses. It's fine if it's not watercolor paper, in fact, using relatively inexpensive paper encourages experimentation. Have a few pieces of the good stuff, too, for the longer poses toward the end of the session.









Thursday, May 25, 2017

5/19/17 Intermediate Homework Color Temperature Dominance

A very good way to focus attention on a particular part of a painting is to make it warm in an otherwise cool atmosphere, or vice-versa. Look at this scene, for example, where the windows are very warm while the rest of the setting is definitely cool:



The dominance of the cool makes the warm stand out.
The difference between the cooler and the warmer areas can be more subtle, like the relative temperatures in the scene, below, and still bring our attention to the portion of the image that is not dominant:



For homework, find an image you like and make a painting where you change the colors so that either the warms or the cools take up most of the total area. You can use one of the following images, or find one on your own.

                                 

You could cool down all this green and make the boat orange. Or make the trees and grass and water much more yellow and paint the boat blue. Or both!



                             
Can you think of a way to leave the boat blue and change everything else?

                                 

What if you made the rocks rustier and changed the trees to Golden yellow fall cottonwoods? Then you could use more blue in the water and change the sky to sunset.



Beginning and Intermediate Homework 5/25/17 Neutrals


There's certainly plenty of intense color in this scene from the Palouse; strong blue and yellow and green. But notice that the picture is also about half neutral. What color is the field in the foreground, or the entire hill? How would you begin to mix them? Grey? Brown? Orange? What would be best for the overall scene? Would it be good to mix some of the intense colors that are elsewhere in the image? Yellow and blue make green. What else would you need? Did you say red? There's a little bit of red in that yellow field.

Neutrals can be thought of as an opportunity. They serve to offset the more intense colors. They can also be used to pull the whole painting together. If you mix your neutrals from the same palette that creates the brighter colors they resonate with each other and contribute to a feeling of cohesiveness.




Except for the blue sky, this whole picture is made up of neutrals. You can see pink and blue green and orange, but none of them are very intense. To mix any of these subtle hues you would need to use all three primary colors and allow one or another to dominate. What is the dominant color in the rippled door? How about the wall just above that door? What would be the first color you'd reach for to paint the road?

Here are a few more images that rely on neutrals for their character. Pick one and think about how you might use a limited palette, say, one red, one yellow and one blue, to mix all the colors you see. Try letting the a little bit of the component colors of your neutrals remain visible in your mixtures.







Monday, May 15, 2017

Everyone's Homework 5/14 Subtle Values

Whoops! I went off to SoCal for my son's graduation and all thoughts of homework went out of my head. I hope you all found something that made you want to paint.
Here are a few images that rely on close value relationships for their appeal.
I recommend making a 5 value monochrome study as a first step for any of these.


Careful with this one. The barn is "white", but it's not the lightest thing in the picture. How can that be?

You might want to practice that hill in the far background. It looks like grading  it so that the left side is lighter than the right is important.


Maybe move the horizon so it's not in the middle of the page...?

Feel free to make any changes you want after studying the values. When you're ready, choose your palette and make a full color version.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Intermediate Watercolor 5/4/17 FAKE ART!

I'll describe a scene with just a few shapes;
There are two or three large birch trees standing in a clearing beside the dense woods. The woods form a backdrop like a tapestry of several different tones. Some sky is visible above and between the branches of the trees, and some short grass forms the foreground, where the birch trunks emerge from the ground.

Sound familiar?

Compose a scene using these components. Choose colors, values and edges that will create a distinct feeling or mood. What if the birches are darker than the woods? What if you used only two colors? How about texture? Do you want to leave it out altogether? Exaggerate the patterns of the bark? No hard edges? No soft edges?

Make up the relationships between the shapes according to the feeling you want to convey. Serene, spooky, romantic, overcast, bright, surprising.
Would a carnival of colors enhance the feeling of serenity? If I make the trunks orange and the birch leaves blue but I hold on to accuracy of value, will that create an element of surprise?"

Ask yourself, "What choice will support my purpose?"
You're in charge.

Beginning Watercolor Homework 5/2/17 The Role of the Darks

In class we looked at the task of seeing what role the darks play in the big picture. A couple of questions that guide the inquiry are, "When in the sequence of layers do the shapes become defined?", and, "Can I be casual or carefree in the layers before the shapes take on their identity?"
The idea is to take advantage of seeing in advance when it is time to make sure the viewer can recognize what they're looking at. That knowledge keeps you from becoming specific prematurely.

We have seen that looking at the dark layer by itself often reveals whether those darks are responsible for defining the content of the painting. Sometimes you can see the role the darks play without even making a quick preliminary study.            


Merely squinting at the scene, above, makes it clear that the darks alone could describe the narrative of this image. Everything is outlined in dark colors! The green, the orange, the grey and even the blue 
could be blocked in very approximately and those darks would still pull the whole scene together.

If the image or scene you are interested in painting does not readily reveal the role of the darks, make a study of just the strong darks. If the study can be easily understood even without any of the light shapes or the middle values, then it must be the darks that are providing the content. If, on the other hand, the darks by themselves leave space and light ambiguous, it must be that the earlier layers play some part in establishing the identity of the shapes. That means you have to be careful at an earlier stage of the process.

Using the image you brought home from class, or one of these attached to this post, assess the role the darks play in telling the story. If you can do that without making a study, good for you. If not, please keep the study to 15 minutes or less. 

Make a painting that takes advantage of what you learned about the role of the darks. When you have a chance to be carefree, let the paint go outside the lines. The goal is UNDERSTANDING, not pretty pictures.



                              

The smudge in the upper right is my finger, not exactly a major shape.