Wow! One of my students gifted me with one of his old watercolor books and I have been pouring through all sorts of ideas on techniques he (Valfred Thelin) suggests. I settled down to try one of them this week and had a great time! Lots of chuckling. He spoke of drawing ink sketches with a razor blade and waterproof black ink and then painting them. You put ink in a saucer or ashtray with a low rim; he suggests an ashtray as good for this. I used an old saucer. Something deeper makes a mess as you reach in to dip the blade of the razor in the ink. Then, all you do is dip the blade and begin drawing with it. I had to dip and draw a lot. Sometimes the blade would drop more ink, sometimes only a hairline.
The above drawing was my first attempt. He suggests that it is a quick way to get a subject down on paper and that the marks of the razor blade enhance any movement and adds to the interest of the subject. He uses ink to sketch people and sporting events a lot. I was not real happy with the above horse but did like the interesting marks it made. The darker marks were made by sliding the entire blade across the surface with several strokes. The thinner lines were drawn by tilting the blade and using one corner to draw with.
I drew a herd of horses and decided this was the one I would use for a painting. Thank you to wet canvas for the photo references for this. I used two different ones and combined them into one composition.
I began by laying large washes behind the horses.
I finished by painting each horse and splattering the foreground.
I will use this technique again. I like the loose and sketchy line the razor blade leaves on the paper. I do think it enhances the movement of a piece.
The book I used is titled “Watercolor: Let the Medium Do It” by Valfred Thelin with Patricia Burlin.
I wanted to try something other than a landscape on the gesso juice surface. I love experimenting on this surface.
Thank you to wet canvas library for the image of the horse.
The above paintings are examples of work from the Exploring Watercolor class. This group worked on wet-in-wet, wet on dry, and dry brushing techniques. They learned to soften edges, splatter, use wax resist, saran wrap print, sponging and masking fluid. We practiced painting trees, skies, clouds, buildings and little people. They did a great job of learning to partner with water.
The above paintings are a result of using rice paper collage with watercolor. This class learned several different techniques with rice paper. They worked with covering a painting with textured rice paper as well as using torn or cut rice papers before painting and after painting their pieces. This is by far the most challenging class I teach.
I send out a heart felt thankyou to all who participated. Thankyou, also, for sharing your work on this blog!
You may view the entire group of paintings in a gallery I have set up on the Student Art 1 Page found by clicking here or by clicking on the title Student Art 1 on the top of this blog.
I began this painting with an abstract watercolor and rice paper collage. This would serve as my background for the painting I wanted to create. I thought this particular painting suggested an aquarium-like feeling, so I went in search of a photo reference of a fish.
Thank you to Wet canvas reference library for the photo reference of the fish. I drew the fish on a large sheet of drawing paper, first. I then selected a textured and fairly transparent piece of rice paper and traced the fish drawing onto it with a black sharpie. Any kind of waterproof ink can be used for this phase. The drawing can even be transferred to the rice paper using brush and ink. I then cut and tore my fish image from the sheet of rice paper and affixed it to the surface of my abstract painting. I used one part water to three parts acrylic matte medium to create my glue mixture. I was careful to smooth the image down to the surface of the paper with my brush, I brushed from the center of the image outward in order to get rid of any air bubbles trapped under the image. I waited for this to fully dry before proceeding.
I painted many of the colors from the background through the fish rather than painting the fish to stand out from the background. It was a personal choice but brought some challenges with it by doing so. My fish appeared flat and lost in its background of colors. Had I chosen to use colors less like the background, he may have stood out better.
I carefully cut dark strips of rice papers for my fish’s tail and fins and glued in some colored shapes along his back. I used india ink to blacken his eyes. I used white acrylic for the gills and white around his eyes and mouth. I then tore strips of textured rice paper and shaped some strands of seaweed in and around him. I hoped this would create some depth to my painting.
After the rice papers dried, I painted the seaweed with several shades of green watercolor and acrylic white. This helped to give some depth to the painting as well as help the fish to become more visible within it.
The last thing I did was to push his head forward more and make it more visible by washing in acrylic white and cerulean blue washes under his chin and left side of his face. This helped to lighten the background without getting rid of the local color and shapes already there.
To view other rice paper paintings I have created click here.
The above painting came from using rice papers on the positive shapes in a painting, to add texture.
I began with a painting and blocked in all the forms I wanted to include, Much like how I began the painting in the previous post.
I covered the bull in torn strips of textured rice paper, working from bottom to top so the pieces would overlap like the hair on the bull would.
I painted the coat following the values I saw in the reference photo. Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference.
To finish the bull, I glued more torn strips of rice papers on the head and painted them. I painted the light washes on the horns. I glued rice papers on the clumps of foliage behind and to one side of the bull for balance.
I finished the painting by painting the rice paper foliage and using india ink in the hair fibers and shadows on the bull.
This is a fairly long process because the artist works in steps and gives ample time for each step to dry in between. I liked this and will use it in future paintings where I want to increase texture.
I found the reference for this little guy in the Wet Canvas photo reference library. The original photograph was taken by Cathy Sheeter. Thank you!
by Henn Laidroo
by Nancy Longmate
The above paintings were done as part of assignments for a six week course in composition.
We studied creating a center of interest and learning where to place it on our format. The students created different formats to paint on such as squares and long and narrow rectangles. They explored emphasizing one or more elements in their paintings to attract a viewer’s attention. These elements included simplification, exaggeration, repetition, emphasizing the focal point, movement and contrast. They created paintings by combining two or three photographs. They also created portraits or figures utilizing the guidelines of composition.
Please check out the results of our class by visiting the “Student Art 2″ page here.
Thank you, once again, to all my students for a great class!
Olly is my friend’s husband’s dog. He is also a friend to Hailey, featured in the previous post. I really enjoyed painting these two collies. Olly is the Rough Coat Collie, like Lassie of TV fame. The one thing I had to concentrate on, throughout painting him, was that his painting may hang with the one I did of Hailey. This is why I faced him left. That way, when they hung on the wall, they would face each other. The other thing I had to be aware of is that they would look better if paintied in much the same style, using the same color scheme. That is why the background is the same and I approached sculpting the forms of his face similar to the way I painted Hailey. I have never attempted something like this before, so that was a learning experience.
Above is my initial drawing. I had to draw him twice. The first attempt was way off! I had trouble with getting the length and width of his nose correct. I used cross hairs the second time and that did the trick. My perspective had been off.
Olly had white hairs running through his coat, so I frisketed those. I also frisketed the highlight in his eyes as well as the lighter areas to either side of his iris and began adding the first tentative strokes of color.
This step was largely sculpting the nose forms and studying where I would need to have lighter color under darker color. I felt a need to establish the darkness of the eye because many of the darks in Olly’s coat matched the values found in his eyes. I pinked the nose as my initial step on that and pinked the shapes on the inside of his ears. These were all the lighter colors I saw under and around the darker values I had yet to render.
In this step, I did most of my painting. I frisketed the pink dots on Olly’s nose. I darkened the areas of dark coat in the way I read the patterns. I frisketed more of the long hairs from his ears so the would show up after laying in the background. I, then painted the background in. I knew I’d need to do that so I could finish my darks in his ears and his nose and have the correct value tones. So many times, I have painted the background in, only to find I had to retouch the portrait because the background lightened the foreground dramatically. At this stage, I always know how I am going to finish a painting. I have enough information down and it is just a matter of detailing and getting the darks to read right.
In the last step I detailed the darks in the ears and painted in some of the white hairs that poked out from around them. I detailed the nose and mouth, darkened the darker portions of pattern in his coat, erased the frisket and worked on softening some of the edges around those frisketed patches. I darkened the whites on either side of his iris and painted a faint shadow under the upper lid of his eye. I added the whiskers with a rigger. The last thing I did was shadow the coat under Olly’s chin with a mixture of the blue I used for the background and a light touch of the browns I had used. I also shadowed the white patch of his coat in the lower right hand corner for balance.
A huge thank you to my friends for sending me the photos to use for reference, so I could paint these two beautiful dogs!
This is Hailey. She is a service dog of a very dear friend of mine. I have wanted to paint her for some time. Her owner was kind enough to send me multiple images of her to be able to pull this off. I was intrigued by her skeletal structure and her dignified expression. I have to admit that I had to use my piece of acrylic with the crosshairs drawn on them to get her long nose right. I kept wanting to shorten the nose on the initial attempts at drawing her. You can find out more about that drawing technique here.
Here are my steps in painting her:
I drew her with the use of the piece of acrylic with crosshairs, mentioned above. I payed careful attention to the linear forms of shadow throughout her face and ears. I knew I would need those lines, carefully placed, in order to render her contours and form accurately.
This was the longest stage of the painting for me. I worked very slowly. I used small round brushes with very light washes and worked from very light to dark. She is so lightly colored and I did not want to “botch it” and have to begin over. The smallest brush I used was a #1 round. The largest was a #8 round. I applied liquid frisket on the highlight areas on her nose and eyes and some on that thin strip of a blaze on the bridge of her nose. I chose raw sienna, naples yellow, sepia, some burnt sienna, permanent rose, and blue stone as my colors. I made the grays with mixtures of blue stone, permanent rose and a raw sienna. The raw sienna and permanent rose were very watered down as they were added to the blue stone.
Prior to finishing the details in a painting, I usually work in the background. I know the addition of a darker background will lighten the appearance of the colors in the subject. This gives me an opportunity to go back into the portrait and darken what I need to and refine the details. Prior to washing in the background, I frisketed Hailey’s ruff around her neck, so the texture of her hair will show up in the finished portrait. I then worked blue stone washes around Hailey’s head and into the shadows of her ruff with a #12 round. I find areas within the positive shape to include the background color so the painting looks more balanced and not like a cut out of a dog pasted on a background. The whole time I work my washes, I make choices about what edges I will leave hard and take the time to soften all the others with a damp or thirsty brush.
The above step is what I call finishing and balancing. I went back into some of the yellows and darkened some of the forms and enhanced some of the contours with lightened or watered down sepia. I detailed the grays around the muzzle and defined the shadows around her ruff. While the frisket was still on, I darkened and detailed the nose and went back into the eye and darkened it and detailed the pigment of the lids. I darkened her lips, freckles and the dots for the whiskers. I removed the frisket around the eyes and nose and washed light color into some of them so they did not appear so dark. Notice difference of highlights on the nose and the highlight in the eyes. I darkened the tips and dark line around the ears. I softened the pinks in the ears with very light washes of sepia. I then removed the frisket on the ruff. I did not have to go back into that area to soften the edges. Sometimes I do have to do that. The last thing I did was add the whiskers with sepia and a small rigger.
I hope, by including my steps, there might be something you can use in your own portrait attempts.
A heartfelt thankyou to my friend for sharing this beautiful dog with me so I could paint her.
The above painting is the one I chose to paint for an assignment in my current landscape class. The assignment was to paint a landscape with trees paying careful attention to how you handled greens as well as what techniques you might use to re-create their textures. One could also insert a building or figure in their landscape, paying attention to its placement and form.
I used greens from my palette but mixed them with yellows, reds and magenta to calm down the garish look of brightness greens seem to produce when used alone. This has been a specific problem with greens for me. I used frisket for the dead pine tree right of center and pointillistic marks combined with wet-in-wet to render the other trees in this landscape. I was very careful to render the curvey forms of the buckskin horse, in the foreground, accurately. I tried to establish his form by painting his values correctly. His shoulders pierce the “sweet spot” for a center of interest in the lower left quadrant so I left him as he was in the photo reference. What I was most concerned with capturing was the brilliance of light throughout this scene, both in the horse and the landscape. I am very pleased with the combinations of colors that I chose to subdue my greens and will continue to experiment with this challenge, in the future. One of the students in my class never uses greens for his foliage and trees, choosing to use combinations of blues and yellows and neutralizing that with other colors and his look great!