Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Watercolor Demonstration Using Value Studies

As always, I refine my reference photo into a black and white value thumbnail study, before I ever lay the brush to paper. In the first half hour of painting I lay in most of my light and middle values, being careful to retain the light areas as needed.  

The finished painting of the "Hanging Door". What started as a fairly ordinary photo of an old shed turned into a very dramatic watercolor painting with lots of contrast at the edges.
In this classroom demonstration I selected a small snapshot photo and showed how to develop my composition using a value study. I always start a painting in this manner, using a very dark, a very white, and a middle gray to develop my ideas. I am looking for contrast of value. When we see contrast we identify it as an edge. When we see edges we see shapes. Notice how carefully I placed the elements so there would be light against dark edges. This was done in my September St. George two-day workshop called "Painting Old Stuff." Some of my artist students are shown working on their own paintings in the photos below. Notice how they are using their own sketchbook "value studies" to work up their paintings. Good students! See more painting demonstrations.

Watercolor Demonstration "Stone Cottage"

I started this painting to demonstrate allowing Ultramarine blue, Cad red light, and Yellow Ochre to mingle freely wet-into-wet to create dramatic three-minute skies. I had no idea what I was going to put into the painting after that. After the wash was dry I laid in the foreground field and sketched in the stone cottage with pencil.

Since the sky wash was so light, I could easily paint the stone cottage over the top. I finished up by adding the bushes on the far left.
This little painting was started at my Milford Michigan watercolor workshop. The sky and foreground were laid in using my three-minute sky technique. I sketched in the stone house using my photo reference and finished the painting later in my studio. To attend one of my painting watercolor workshops see my workshop page on my website.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Demonstration Watercolor Paintings

This painting started as demonstration of a 3-minute wet-into-wet sky. We did four or five different skies then added the landscape elements afterwards.

"English Cottage" was used to demonstrate "negative painting" techniques for foliage, but at the same time I showed the students how to handle characteristics of structures.
I taught the artists how to begin each painting with a pencil "Thumbnail Sketch" value study which provides a road map to follow. If it works in the thumbnail it will work in the painting.
A rough thumbnail value study helped me determine how to depict the shapes through the use of light against dark edges.
If it works in the value study it will work in the painting too! The eye sees shapes because of edge contrast.

I completed several watercolor demonstration paintings at my recent watercolor workshop in Milford Michigan. Each was started to demonstrate a specific concept or watercolor technique. I used both powerpoint and painting demonstrations to get my point across, then had the student artists do their own paintings based on what they learned. It was a great workshop with some excellent artists.

Michigan Watercolor Workshop a Success

Thanks to Dorothy Koliba and Janice Sparks for putting together a great watercolor workshop in Milford Michigan last week. About 20 wonderful artists joined me as I conducted five days of instruction and painting in this intriguing area of beautifully restored victorian houses and pastoral lakes. The enthusiasm was as high as the expertise of this fine group as we explored the keys to painting believable landscapes in watercolor.