Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The First Wash...

Here's my reference photo:

There are SO many ways to start a painting. This video shows me doing the background first by dropping color onto wet paper. The main subject, a bird, was kept dry so that the colors wouldn't drift onto that area of the painting.

When this painting was almost dry, I spritzed a little water on it to create texture in the background...

Here's the image for this second demonstration:

Here's another example of a first wash...

And a note about the importance of letting your painting completely dry between layers.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How to prepare your palette before a painting

Please note, the very first post is at the bottom of the page, and the newest posts are at the top. Please leave a comment or email me at rachel6parker at gmail dot com if you have a question or comment!
The following video explains how to prepare your palette before you start painting.

How to tape down watercolor paper

This video will show you how to tape down watercolor paper

Friday, November 11, 2011

Starting a Painting

The very first step of painting is choosing a good picture. I highly recommend using a good picture with good light in it. For example, this picture has beautiful light:
It's got natural light, illuminating the subject from the side, there was no flash, and the picture was taken at eye level of the subject so it's not an ugly angle.  Often, pictures taken at the 'golden hour' when the sun is low relative to the horizon, have good light.

This picture above is not a great picture to use to paint from.  The flash has flattened out the contours, and the child is sitting in an odd position with his arms straight (straight lines=boring).  If you want to send me your picture before you start, feel free to do so!

Another thing to consider when you're first beginning a painting, is composition.  It's usually best to put the subject in one of the four corner quadrants of the picture, not right in the middle of the painting.  Making things a little off balance by moving the subject out of the center of your paper will add interest.  Sometimes, the center of interest may be the eye of the animal, and even though part of the face may be in the center of the picture, this can still work well.  For example, in the picture below, the cats face falls right in the middle of the painting.  But the center of interest, the eyes are right and above of center, and makes this painting work.

Once you have selected your picture, you can either draw it on your paper (I recommend 190 lb arches cold pressed paper) or trace it on using either a light box or the light through a window, a print out of the picture, and your watercolor paper. After you have transferred your drawing to your paper, whether you draw it or trace it on, you will want to use mask to save the most important small areas of whites, like whiskers or a glint in the eye. Here are two videos that show you a little bit more about mask and how to work with it.

The following video provides a little tip on how to keep your brushes from getting ruined from mask.

The next step, which you can do before or after you use mask (and you may decide not to use mask), is to tape down your paper...That will be the next post!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A little about contrast and detail...

Contrast – The human eye is naturally drawn to contrast, and it’s important to keep this in mind when you’re painting.  Contrast  can be used in many different ways – lots of contrast can create energy and interest, and very little contrast can result in a soothing feeling of relaxation.  In my paintings, my subject is usually an animal, and I use contrast to draw the viewer in to the eye of the animal, usually.  So I make sure I have some contrast in that area, usually through a dot of white on a dark eye.  It’s also important to use contrasting tones and colors to delineate your subject.  Take a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s use of contrast.  He really punched up contrast to enhance the planes of his subject, pronouncing the light and drawing attention to his subject.  Often, the center of interest also had the highest about of contrast.  

 Look, for example at this painting, and how Leonardo used light to draw your attention to the face of this subject.  Notice that the highest area of contrast is the very dark hat near the very light side of the man’s face.  The lower portion of the man’s body is delineated, but there is very little contrast between the body of the man and the background.  This naturally draws your eye to look at the man’s face.

Detail -  In this painting, detail has been made to be the subject.  This painting is proof that once you know the rules, you can break them in a well planned painting.  
Click on the image to see a larger version
Thank you Steve Mills, for the use of your painting!

There is equal amounts of detail throughout this painting, but it still works.  In more traditional compositions, artists use detail to direct the eye to the main point of interest in the painting.  In a large majority of my paintings, that point is the eye of the animal.  I keep that area sharp and detailed, and soften the other areas of the painting, even if subtly, to direct attention to the eye.