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Every fall we begin our watercolor classes with a portrait class.

Ruth Karau

Ruth Karau

Dianna Burt3

Dianna Burt3

We painted people portraiture.

Beth Akey5

Beth Akey5

Cindy Guzik

Cindy Guzik

We painted animal portraits.

Marilyn Bultemeier

Marilyn Bultemeier

Janet Heffley

Janet Heffley

We grunged backgrounds and painted portraits right on that grunged paper.

Discussions included facial features, skin tones and color theory, composition as it relates to portraiture, and two ways to approach a portrait in watercolor.

If you would like to see all the examples of portraits painted by these artists click here or scroll to the top of the blog and click on the page labeled Student Art: Watercolor Portrait 2016.

Thank you to all my students who share their work here!

We just finished up our last watercolor class of this school year. I always save this class to finish out the school year. Each week, we use a different technique in our paintings. Sometimes we change the support we work on. Sometimes we add another medium to watercolor.

The first week we worked on a toned masa paper support.

Nancy Longmate5

Nancy Longmate5

Masa paper is a type of rice paper that you can crinkle, wet, tone and allow to dry before gluing it to the surface of your watercolor paper. Once that dries, you can paint on that as your support. The student who created the above took the process a step farther and collaged other papers onto the surface of her watercolor painting. If you would like to try this technique, I have explained the process here.

The second week we worked on a gesso juice prepared surface.

Henn Laidroo2

Henn Laidroo2

We made a mixture of acrylic matte medium, gesso and water and brushed it onto the surface of our watercolor paper. Before that dried, we scratched into the surface with a credit card. Some of us added rice papers and/or craft sand to the wet surface. Once that dried, we used that as our support to paint on. If you would like to try this technique, I have explained the process here.

The third week we worked with ink and watercolor.

Judy Notestine3

Judy Notestine3

This offered the most possibilities. We could choose to paint with ink and use varying values, splatter, draw with it with an eye dropper, a razor blade, or nib or spritz our applications of ink with a mister (spray bottle with water). The above ink and watercolor was also created on a grunged background. Here are some ink tutorials:

drawing with ink and razor blade

drawing with an eyedropper and spritzing

drawing with a nib and spritzing

using an elegant writer and watercolor

The fourth week we worked on a gouache resist.

Linda Flatley

Linda Flatley

In this technique, we used gouache to coat any area of our painting that would require color later. Once that dried, we coated a layer of waterproof ink over the top and allowed it to dry. Next, we rinsed the entire painting with water (hose is best) to remove the ink from the gouached areas. This leaves a block print-like image. We then paint the white areas once the surface has dried. If you would like to try this, I have explained the process here.

The last thing that everyone tried was a self portrait combining watercolor and collage. They could work on any surface they wanted to and could collage with any papers they wanted to.

Laura Lindsay

Laura Lindsay

Kathy Smierciak4

Kathy Smierciak4

We use a glue made with acrylic matte medium and water. There are many posts within my blog that discuss citrasolv collage and rice paper collage. Just insert either in the search block below and you will find explanations of these in the event you are interested in trying these techniques.

All the student’s works for this class can be found by clicking here.

Thank you to all the artists who have shared their work here. Have a great summer break!

housefinches

The above painting was created on a gessoed surface. I mixed some water, acrylic matte medium and acrylic white gesso together to make the juice. I roughly follow a formula that Kathleen Conover outlined in an article in Watercolor Artist magazine. However, I have found that I may ad a bit more gesso than she outlines. I probably use a bit more gesso to make the mixture thicker. I pour a dollop of the mixture onto the watercolor paper (140lb Coldpress Arches) and spread it with a credit card, swirling it and making slashes in the mixture so as to texture the surface. I have even added torn pieces of rice paper and sometimes sprinkle craft sand into the wet mixture. All of these things make for a nice textured surface to paint on. I allow the surface to dry and then draw and paint on it. In order for the pigment to respond well on the slicker surface, I use a bit less water. In some areas, where the gesso is thinner, the pigment sinks in. In other areas, it slides off the ridges created by the credit card. Where the gesso is the slickest, you can lift and change the washes and the whole creation begins to take on a life of it’s own. Because so much of the painting is created on top of this harder surface, I have to allow them to dry and then spray the entire painting with a good matte fixative.

If you would like to try painting on a surface like this, I have a step by step tutorial here.

greatbluewhale

The above painting began as an abstract. I applied alternating color washes and torn pieces of rice papers, allowing each layer to dry. After each layer dried, I rotated my board and looked for something realistic in the patterns that were created by the washes and papers. When I located the whale, I began layering and painting to bring that imagery forward. It is one of my favorite ways to work. Here is the one I did last year.

bateleureagle2

The above painting began with a detailed drawing of the Bateleur Eagle but took several layers of watercolor and rice papers to bring the image to completion. The head feathers, face and yellow beak are watercolor. The wing and back feathers are torn pieces of rice paper with watercolor painted into them. I thank wet canvas for the reference image for this collage painting.

beachwalk

I love painting “Little People” !

songsparrows

HAPPY SPRING EVERYONE!

bateleureagle

We are studying composition in my classes, right now. One of the first things we do is work on discovering the most interesting portion of the imagery we use for reference.

I teach my students the Rule of Thirds.

sweetspots

This means we divide our format (the space that we are going to use to create a painting on) into thirds vertically and horizontally. The areas of the format that are good to use to place a center of interest in are near or around where the lines intersect. Time has proven that creating two dimensional art where the most interesting aspect of a painting is placed in the center usually results in a static image or an isolated and boring composition. Greg Albert calls these intersections “sweet spots” in his book “the simple secret to better painting”.

In the image of the Bateleur Eagle, above, I decided the eye, surrounded by all that bright red was the most interesting aspect of the image. In order to place it on my watercolor paper, I had to crop the reference photo and draw a grid over the image dividing it into thirds, horizontally and vertically, so the eye and red area would be near a sweet spot.  You can see that the eye and red portion of the eagle are surrounding the “sweet spot” in the upper left quadrant.

Below are examples of two other paintings I designed from my reference photos in this manner:

thegirls2

I had too much foreground in the above photograph, so I used two “L’s” that I created by cutting a matte in two, to crop the photo to meet my needs. By cropping it in this manner, I was able to place the far child in a “sweet spot”, the foreground child between and to the left of the left side “sweet spots” and connecting the middle child to the first child in a “sweet spot”. This creates a pathway for the viewer’s eye to follow when viewing the portrait, beginning with the first child and ending with the far child.

thegirls3

The resulting drawing would look like above. The artist then erases the grid lines and creates their painting.

However, when you work from a grid, it only works when you create a format space that is proportional to the format space of your cropped image.

Here is an example of how to do that in the easiest way I know.

grandpaandme2

I crop and grid the above image. Note that the sweet spots are on the heads of the two people. The arm of the Grandfather holds the viewer’s eye on the page and leads to the book that they are both reading.

grandpaandmemeasure

I then place the photo in the corner of my watercolor paper and angle a ruler or yardstick from the corner of the photo and watercolor paper through the opposite corner, diagonally, and make a mark somewhere along that diagonal line. Anywhere on that line is a multiple of the dimensions of the cropped photo that I plan to work from.

grandpaandme3

I then divide the format in thirds

grandpaandme4

….and draw the image.

Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference image for Bateleur Eagle.

The eagle was painted on a grunge background. I describe how to create a grunge background here.

autumn

I have been raking leaves. I was thankful that we have had some mild and warm days to do this task. I believe the trees in my painting may be old cottonwoods. I liked the bright light.

I added the cows.

I chose to use a piece of watercolor paper that I had previously grunged as I described in this post.

riverscene

I have also been working on this river scene. This is Elegant Writer and watercolor. The pileated woodpecker was added.

I have noticed that many of my landscapes have been so empty. I am experimenting with adding wildlife and little people to them.

Thank you to Wet Canvas for the reference photos for these paintings.

We just completed our yearly Watercolor Portrait Class! These artists are just amazing me with their paintings. Every single one of them just keep improving with each year that goes by.

Laura Lyndsay3

Laura Lyndsay3

We began the class by studying and painting parts of portraits. We discussed what things on a face define the likeness of someone. Some practiced hands, too!

Leslie Vrchota

Leslie Vrchota

The next week, we discussed the general measurements of a head and the facial features. We learned to crop a photo and measure the format of our watercolor paper to be dimensionally correct to the reference. We then learned to grid each of them to help us get accurate proportions to our drawings and paintings.

Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet

Some artists included animal portraiture.

Kathy Smierciak

Kathy Smierciak

We discussed composition and where our center of interest could be located and cropped our photo appropriately. We talked about value and how we needed contrast. Some artists included figurative work.

John Kelty3

John Kelty3

We learned how to paint little people because we have a landscape class coming up and are thinking we might like to work toward including figures in our landscapes.

I was most impressed, however, with the night we explored creating a grunge background and then painted a portrait onto that background.

Any of the above paintings can be enlarged by clicking on them.

There are 62 works of art, right now, on the student Portrait page. You can access them by scrolling to the top of this post and clicking on Student Art: Watercolor Portrait 2015 or by clicking here.

Thank you, again, to all the artists who share their work here!

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.

Kathleen Smierciak2

Kathleen Smierciak2

The first week we worked on anything ink and watercolor.

Linda Flatley2

Linda Flatley2

Jan Reche2

Jan Reche2

The second week we worked on Gouache Resist.

Mary Smierciak

Mary Smierciak

Sue Joseph4

Sue Joseph4

On the third week we learned how to make gesso juice, apply it to our paper and create texture in it.

Melissa Scare

Melissa Scare

Roxanne Yoquelet

Roxanne Yoquelet

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.

Nancy Longmate5

Nancy Longmate5

Ruth Karau3

Ruth Karau3

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! 🙂

beardedvulture

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.