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!

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