Today in the my watercolor class I demonstrated painting white flowers and soft-focus bright or dark backgrounds. A neighbor graciously allowed me to pick a huge bouquet of Matalija poppies from her gigantic bush so each artist had their own flower to paint.
To save time I only painted a quarter of the flower before going on to paint the background. This made it a little difficult to finish the painting after the class since by then the flower had completely changed so I just pretended a little.
To paint the background I started by making three different puddles in little bowls: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Gold and Winsor (phthalo) Blue. I used a separate brush for each color to keep the colors clean. Then I just worked my way around, washing on little gold, a patch of red beside it, a splotch of blue, letting the colors touch and mingle.
To warm up for today’s demo I did this sketch last night using my fun new green Pitt Artists Brush Pen and then added watercolor. And I spelled the flower name wrong. Which I’ve been doing forever, or at least since I painted the first one several years ago found on my website here.
My Sunday morning watercolor class focused on glazing this week. Glazing is applying a transparent layer of paint over painted or unpainted areas. Like a piece of colored glass, a glaze won’t hide what’s below it but will change the way it appears.
I used the study above to demonstrate glazing with gradations. To make the design I printed the word “HAPPY” in big capital letters and then playfully added more pencil lines between and around letters to make more shapes.
Then I glazed each shape individually, adding more glazed layers in various areas until it felt done. I used only transparent primary colors, so that they combined to create secondary colors. You can also use glazing to make colors appear brighter, duller, darker, warmer, cooler or in shadow or to unify an entire painting or a section of it.
A student who takes individual classes asked for help with painting birds so I used the journal spread above to demonstrate doing a pre-painting strategy session. I tried out various techniques and pigments as I thought about how I might paint the parrot whose photo we downloaded from Morguefile.com (where you are allowed to “copy, distribute, transmit and adapt” the copyright-free photos). Doing this bit of preparation and note-taking really helps to avoid some (but certainly not all) mistakes and corrections during the painting process. LATER I used the spread to write a journal entry (which I’ve blurred here for privacy), right over the feather and color experiments.
I still have these “cheat sheets” for many of my paintings. Recently I came across the one for Cheerios with Strawberries and saw that I’d used a wash of cobalt violet light (a favorite color but very expensive) to make the milk look just like the non-fat that I’d had in that bowl of cereal.
I loved the colors so much on this demo for flat and gradated washes from the previous week that I hung it on my wall as if it was a finished painting (my own mini Rothko).
Watercolor Class Registration
My next 4-week class session begins Sunday August 8. You can register and get more information on my website here. It looks like this session will fill so be sure to sign up soon if you want to join in. I am also planning a new “independent studies” class for people wanting to paint with ongoing coaching. If you’re interested, send me a note to get on the list.