We start every year with a portrait class. We have artists of all levels creating and painting together. It really is fun. One thing I am always amazed by is the effort they put into portraiture. For some reason, we just can’t approach a portrait of a person or pet, that we know, without wanting that “likeness”. I think it is that and that alone that gives portraiture the “Oh, that’s hard” label. I enjoy portraits of all kinds: abstract, distorted, funky. I try to stress that we will always capture an essence of what we are working on and that it is the body of work that counts. We artists just need to relax into the journey. That said, this was my personal challenge this year for a portraiture likeness. This is my Brother-in-law and I will await the verdict (from those who know him) because I never know when I have rendered a likeness.
This one makes me chuckle. This is my little dog, Payton. He is FIFTEEN!!! I had fun with this painting and let it sit and sit for the longest time. I wanted to add more…. and more… and more, so it just sat. I finally decided that everything I wanted to add was not in how he looked but who he is and I hope I captured enough of him that you know what I mean when I say this falls short. Many of you share your homes with pets that are dear for all sorts of reasons. Pictures and words just fall a bit short. So, I decided this was finished.
So you could see how I added the watercolor, this is my initial drawing and wash with the Elegant Writer:
This pen will become part of the tools I use in the future. Here was my tutorial on how the Elegant Writer can be used.
This is Abner, my daughter’s beloved weimaraner. I keep returning to a reference photo I took of him quite a few years back. There are many versions of him within this blog. I seem to gravitate to this image when I am trying new techniques. This is my attempt with the “Elegant Writer”.
This is what I came up with following my initial drawing and wetting of the ink lines. I felt I did not achieve enough darks. I went back in a second time and re-inked the lines where I wanted the image to appear darker.
After re-inking the drawing, I re-activated those lines with a brush and water and came up with the above. I think an artist could keep going and developing the ink drawing if they are not anticipating painting with watercolor. I have yet to experiment with this technique and collage, wax resist or some of the other things I create with, but am convinced it is a very versatile medium.
Hope you give it a try!
I have been spending the week with my three grandgirls again and it has been chock full of summertime fun. We used the rain day to settle in and draw and paint. The above is what they came up with. They each selected a reference they liked from wet canvas reference library and set to work drawing them and then tracing over their lines with the “Elegant Writer” I have been experimenting with.
Next, they activated the ink lines with a large round watercolor brush filled with water. The next day, they painted in their scenes. All three girls really liked working with this pen and want to do it again. It is great for talking about lights and darks with children. I also think it is a pretty good introductory exercise for teaching watercolor.
I always look forward to seeing what the girls come up with. I do have to help them with seeing angles of lines and widths of things. I talk about shapes and that it is sometimes better to break their subject into shapes and show them that the space between the animals legs or between the bars on the canoes is a shape. I try not to confuse them with too many technical terms all at once, but we did talk about shape, negative space and dark and light this time.
I began this painting several months ago. I guess I was anticipating summer and warm weather. I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could render these Victorian beauties in some way. I do not consider myself very good at drawing and painting buildings. One thing I know I do not do enough is insert little people or animals into my landscapes. I get so caught up in the “thinking” part of putting landscapes together that I never include a story; and I like stories so much better! I used two separate reference photos to come up with the neighborhood and another for the “little cowgirl”. I made up the older person at the top of the stairs and modeled the dog’s form after the boxer who lives across the street from me. I can remember a time when those red boots and hat would have been my prize possessions, not to mention a man’s best friend to spend the summer with!
Little People are fun to paint. Here are a couple sketches to ad to the mix:
The above two paintings were created by my Granddaughter and me this past week. I first learned about this technique by reading Carol King’s post about a new technique she had tried after viewing a video by Karlyn Holman.
This was a fascinating procedure and we will try some more of these. They work well for drawings and wash or finished watercolor paintings. I may even teach this in my beginning drawing classes as those students are always eager to learn something new, as well as the watercolor artists. It is a great technique for studying value and ads some interesting effects to the paper.
We began with an ink drawing, using the “Elegant Writer” calligraphy pen by Speedball. I purchased the finest point I could find. It said it had a 2.0 F tip. We both drew the compositions in light graphite, first, and then traced the lines with the pen.
In the next step, we took a large round watercolor brush (wet) and worked it up next to the inked lines where we wanted to add shadow or a darker value. The ink begins to run and the artist begins to see green and pink tints show up, along with the gray. Once the ink has been wet and dries, it can not be activated again. Understandably, we did not need to touch all the lines because some areas must remain white. Karlyn suggested we spray a fine mist over the entire drawing to set the lines we had not activated. Otherwise, we might activate them when we add color via the watercolor pigments we planned to finish our paintings with. I got a bit carried away with my mister and will need to correct that the next painting I attempt using this technique. Mine ran more than I wanted; BUT!! it did set the line and I had no more running after this. Below is what we came up with after activating the lines, shading our drawings, and setting the remaining lines to preserve the whites:
The rosey or pink color can be enhanced or brought out more by blotting the wet runs of ink with a tissue. The scribbled leaves were wet by flinging water with our brush on the inked scribbles. This prevents the leaves from becoming watery blobs and preserves the textured marks we made with the pen. Karlyn demonstrates all of this in her video.
We allowed that stage of our paintings to dry and then painted our scenes with watercolor.
My nine year old Granddaughter has been painting since she was a toddler. That helps when we work together on projects like this, but she was so intrigued with this technique and wants some of these pens for home. She remained interested in the process throughout. Just saying! If you have young artists at home, this is fun!
The last project we worked on in Watercolor Plus class was wax resist with watercolor. Wax in the form of crayon or a white candle has always intrigued me for the textural qualities the watercolor artist can get from it. I often pick up a crayon when I need a bit of sparkling light in a painting somewhere. Here, the crayons I used were made by Crayola. That’s right, just the ones you find on any store shelf. The wax is all in the sunflowers and their leaves and stems. Make sure you push really hard on the crayon or your paint applications may not slide off the wax. I find it best to do all my wax applications prior to painting but think that more wax can be applied in a layering effect. If you want contrast, however, strive for contrasting colors between wax and watercolor applications.
The subject for this painting is just north of me by about 13 miles on my back roads trek to my daughter’s farm. There is a farm on a cross roads that has a gigantic garden and a vegetable stand. In August they have a huge plot of sunflowers blooming right next to the road. It is a site to see!
We just finished our last class of the school year 2014-2015 last night. I save this class until the end each year because it is composed of five different ways to use watercolor with other mediums. It is designed to stretch our creativity and give us other options to use when creating our paintings. It is probably the most challenging of the classes because these take an investment of time that some of the other classes don’t require.
The first week we worked on anything ink and watercolor.
The second week we worked on Gouache Resist.
On the third week we learned how to make gesso juice, apply it to our paper and create texture in it.
The fourth week was devoted to learning how to treat National Geographic photos with CitraSolv to make beautifully colored collage papers and use them to create watercolor and collage paintings.
On the fifth week we worked on creating paintings using wax resist.
On the sixth and last night everyone worked on a technique where they paint into a soaked piece of watercolor paper, developing the painting as it dries. They could even use pastels and work them into the watercolor.
If you would like to view the other paintings created by these students you can click here or scroll to the top of the page and click on the page that says Student Art: Watercolor Plus 2015.
Thank you to all my students who shared their work here! :)
I had so much fun creating this image! This bird caught my eye the minute I saw the reference photo on wet canvas. I think it was just listed as a vulture. Thank you to wet canvas for continuing to supply artists with inspiration through your reference library!
When I first drew this bird, I did not include the beard because the background in the reference photo was so dark you could not see it. The other thing I was intrigued by was the full hood and crest of feathers, which were mostly white in the reference photo. Ha! I began a search for this strange bird and found him and his hood and crest were red or reddish brown! Those in the wild “dust bathe” and the red coloration comes from the soil. I found a good description of him here. The reference photo was probably of a bird kept in captivity. Their hood and crest are generally white.
I began this with a line drawing and painted the entire bird and background before I added CitraSolv collage papers to his wings and hood. Click here if you would like to learn how to create these beautiful collage papers and use them in a watercolor painting.
I just read a really creative post on Carol King’s blog here. She used an Elegant Writer pen to design her composition and then painted into it to cause the ink to run. I took the time to watch the video about the technique and wish I could have tried it with this vulture prior to painting and collaging him. I am definitely going to try the Elegant Writer, watercolor and citrasolv as a mixed media this summer on my break. Thank you, Carol, and all of you bloggers who continue to share what you learn! I first learned of citrasolv from Carol’s blog, also.