Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 4

The final lesson was on creating a mixed media collage.  We had just returned from a fun flyfishing trip, so I decided to do a two page collage about it.  Step 1 was to gather items for the college. Step 2 is to plan the arrangement.  I had a few photos I had taken, some pencil sketches I had done on location, and some old line and hooks I had retrieved from the trees (while getting my own tangled fly back).

I did a watercolor of the river on the right page from one of the photos I took, and added part of a page torn out of my mole skin pocket sketch book.   On the other page I did a ink and watercolor sketch of the Alder limb, including my fly and float.  I added one of the flies and some of the line I retrieved, as well as a photo of a Trout Lily that was blooming along the river.

I had some problems with the fishing line and glue, but in general I liked the two page layout, the sketches and painting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 3 part C

For this sketch/painting exercise I used a ceramic chick salt and pepper set.  I directly painted the one on the left onto the paper without using any pencil sketch.  I did a pencil sketch before painting the middle one.  I did a pencil sketch, then inked the outline before painting the one on the right.

I think I like the one with the ink lines best.  What do you think?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 3 part B

Ink drawing over top of a wet-in-wet wash.

Last week I did a few test wet-in-wet pages to see how the colors blend together.  This week I selected one to use as the background for an ink sketch.  I did a few pencil sketches on the facing page to help me determine the shape and positioning for the sketch.  The line of text refers to T. S. Elliott's poem "The Song of the Jellicles"

Belle likes to sit next to me (or in my lap if she can) as I type on the computer or sketch and paint.  She likes to chase the cursor on the screen, or my brush tip as I paint.  She does her best to add some adventure to what she must see as boring.  Not nearly as interesting as chasing bugs or lizards or scaring birds off the feeders!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 3 part A

The first part of lesson three is to use ink for the sketch.  I do this a lot, so decided to try two slightly different approaches on what I inked.

For the first I began by placing a pencil sketch of a Cherokee Rose branch on the page.  I went over it using a superfine tip Pitt artists pen, and erased the pencil.  I used plastic wrap with some very wet paint to create the background on this sketch.  Finally I added color to the rose using my Koi field watercolor kit and Niji large and Koi small water brushes.  The background turned out a bit dark, but I think the texture fits the feel of this sketch well.

For the second sketch I did a quick pencil sketch of an old birdbath in the backyard that in spring is surrounded by a succession of different flowers.  The early spring daffodils have faded and been replaced by bluebells.  I inked only the birdbath and statue, then painted the back ground.  I used a large flat Niji water brush for the fence and bluebell leaves.  Once the background had dried a bit I used a large round Niji water brush to paint in the bluebell flowers with a mix of blue and purple and the birdbath and staute with green and black.  The green is for all the moss and algae that have colonized the bowl and statue.  The text on the page refers to Anne Bronte's poem "The Bluebell", which is actually about the native English Bluebell not Spanish Bluebells but still seems to fit.  Below is the poem and finished sketch.

     A fine and subtle spirit dwells
            In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
       With more or les of power.
       There is a silent eloquence
          In every wild bluebell
 That fills my softened heart with bliss
      That words could never tell.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Strathmore online class Lesson 2 part C

I finally got a chance to try using both saran wrap and wax paper to create textured effects.  I used each technique to create backgrounds.

I just happen to have green colored plastic wrap left over from Christmas.  I had already done added the light green of the orchid leaves and wanted to add a dark blue background so the white flowers would standout.  I made a dark blue wash and placed the saran wrap on top.  This was done in a Strathmore mixed-media 90 lb paper journal and I spent too much time creating a graded wash so the paint was too dry by the time I applied the plastic wrap.

I tried it a second time on a similar painting in a Strathmore watercolor 140 lb paper journal.  This time I quickly applied a very wet wash using my flat Niji waterbrush and it turned out much better (see below).

I then used wax paper on a mixed color background also on  the Strathmore watercolor 140 lb paper.  After doing a quick pencil sketch, I wet the paper using my spray bottle.  Then I dropped in a few different colors and let them run together.  Before they dried I added the wax paper and squished it around.  Once the background was dry I painted the squash, and added a shadow to ground it to the paper.

As you can see in the below finished journal entries, the effects were very similar.  This technique is very nice for adding some background interest without distracting from the central image.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 2 part B

I did another painting for lesson II from life (instead of photo like the earlier two).  I decide to paint a shell instead of another flower.  The cowrie shell is very simple and yet challenging.  The shell is very shiny, providing intense highlights and deep shadows.  The snail enlarges its shell by laying down thin layers of semi-transparent calcium crystals.  The effect makes the brown spots appear blurred, or fuzzy.  I tried to imitate the look by adding several layers of brown spots on top of each other as the paper slowly dried.

Jim, a class member, commented on Shells being wonderful subjects.  I have to agree.  In addition they are what got me working in watercolors to begin with!  My training is in drawing, pen & ink and scientific illustration; not painting.  A shell club I belonged to needed some art for their show and I decided to give it a try, especially since I found watercolor pencils.  Now I am learning about watercolors and painting, not just messing about with it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 2 part A

Lesson II  Brushwork.  

I set aside my Koi field watercolor kit and put the paints and brushes from my my plien air kit to use.  I used the round and flat number 12 brushes to compare wet and drybrush strokes.  Then tried some wet-in-wet techniques. 

Several years ago we vacationed in Colorado.  While there I took many photos of the beautiful landscape.  The sky and rocks at Red Rock Canyon looked like the perfect landscape to practice washes and brush techniques with.  

For a second photo I selected one from the mountains where snow was covering the sides of a hill and most of the small stream at its base.  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A red rose

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"...  One of the last remaining flowers from the bouquet is a red rose bud.  The deep color and soft texture made the flower an interesting and sometimes difficult choice.  The petals overlap creating numerous shadows and curving lines.  Flower by flower, I seem to be slowing working up to doing a whole bouquet.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A lesson in negative painting

I decided to continue to work on single flowers from the bouquet.  The next flower I chose to paint was a lilly, maybe because I was inspired by Tiffany's recent post to the Sketching in Nature Flicker group.  I loved the rich colors of her lily.  My lily, however was white.  A real trial in negative painting!

Friday, March 9, 2012

I have a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the table, which just kept calling to me.  Paint me! Paint me! Paint me before I drop all my petals!  So I am painting it, bit by bit.  I started with a stalk of brilliantly red Alstroemeria. Their common name is the Peruvian Lily.  The flowers are made up of 3 petals and 3 sepals, referred to by botanists as tepals!  One other rather unusual thing I noticed while painting the flowers is that the leaves all twist, so the lower leaf surface faces up.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Strathmore online class: lesson 1

I signed up for a Strathmore online watercolor class with Cathy Johnson.  I love Cathy's work and have been looking forward to this class for months.  The first lesson went over techniques of washes and using them to create a journal page.  For this class I am using a Strathmore multi-media journal.  The paper is smoother and absorbs less water then the watercolor journals I have been using.

I was vacillating between using my Koi field watercolor kit or the tube pigments and brushes I have in my larger Plien Air kit.  I am very comfortable with the Koi pigments, and frustrated by the tube pigments.  Comfort over new won out for the first lesson's journal entries.  But I am determined to paint more with my other kit as part of this workshop.