Thursday, October 11, 2012

Home Repairs

Version 1
All those drunken windows and the tilting foundation and tower were just more than I could stand. So I got out my tool box and went to work. Neither would get me a job in an architectural firm, but I hope you agree that version #2 is an improvement.

Version 2
P.S. The different color balance is from different lighting conditions. Neither is an exact match to the original.

Christmas in October

Yesterday, one of my students was working on a painting for this year's Christmas card. I had that in mind today when I dug through my "morgue" and found a house I'd photographed years ago. (Sorry, I don't remember where it's located.) Anyway, I changed the season to winter, hung some bows and a wreath on windows and door, et voila! It was fun, and I got it done in an afternoon.

I'm reasonably happy with it. Or at least I thought I was. Now, as I stare at it on my screen, I see a blue million little flaws. Maybe I can claim the builder was a little bit drunk on this job?

"Christmas Card House", about 10x10 inches, watercolor on 140# Lanaquarelle.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Paint the Forest, Not the Trees

This is an exercise in "negative painting." I started by painting the entire surface with yellow ochre. Then I painted around the foreground trees with Pthalo blue. Then I painted around the next layer of trees with more blue. Repeat. The idea is that you never actually paint the trees themselves--only the spaces around them. Yeah, I know. Clear as mud!

Actually, the trick is to avoid mud. The more different pigments used, the muddier the color becomes. (See my previous comments about the petals of flowers.) So I stuck to Pthalo blue until the very last, darkest layer, where I used Daniel Smith Blue Apatite Genuine.

The other challenge in this exercise is compositional: there is a tendency to have "cookie cutter trees" that are uniformly spaced, sized and/or slanted, which is not good. So each time I paint around a tree, I have to make sure that it is different from the trees on either side of it. Each tree is an individual, not a clone. Not as easy as it sounds, believe me.

I'll use this as a demo painting for this afternoon's class.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When you don't have fresh flowers, use silk!

I needed a quick "model" for a demo in my Tuesday watercolor class in Kettering, so I grabbed my digital camera and shot a dozen macro pictures of silk flowers I had on hand. I liked this shot the best. I didn't take a lot of pains with the drawing (obviously) because my students were primarily interested in figuring out how to make petals look 3D and how to not get "lost" in all those petals. Still, I think the resulting painting came out pretty well...

For any students out there, this was a limited palette painting. I used quinacridone red and permanent alizarin crimson (both pigment PV19) for the petals. The background is a mixture of quinacridone red and pthalo green just slopped on very loosely. Background petals were "desaturated" with just a TINY bit of pthalo green. There is a little bit of negative painting here and there at the bottom. The yellow center was added with Naples yellow and American Journey Sour Lemon.
If you have trouble keeping the color of your flower petals bright and clean, try to avoid mixing two or more different pigments together. It's very easy to unintentionally include a neutralizer in the mix. For example, if I'd mixed a red-orange with alizarin crimson, the slight blue cast in the alizarin would have dulled the red-orange a bit, and vice versa (blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel and neutralize each other).
Now, if I really wanted to make this daisy a bit more orange, the way to do it would be to paint an underpainting of yellow, dry it completely, and then paint red over it. The yellow glows through the red, and the result is gorgeous. (Yes, this means you have to think ahead. LOL)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Here is the finished version of "Cascade." As you can see, it's come a long way since the underpainting was done.
"Cascade" (c) Susan Bertke 2011