Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Painting Blue Skies | Applying the Theory of Light, Part 2 [feedly]


Painting Blue Skies | Applying the Theory of Light, Part 2
// Artist's Network

Last week, I started a discussion in "Painting Blue Skies, Part 1″ on how best to deal with an extremely intense blue sky in an otherwise warm landscape scene. I emphasized the importance of representing light by indicating a full spectrum of color and talked about a method of selecting analogous hues of blue and painting them with fragmented strokes to achieve this. A second technique for indicating the full spectrum of light in a sky is to underpaint using a complementary tone and then apply blue so that bits and pieces of the undertone show through. The opposite of cool blue on a color wheel is orange, which is composed of red and yellow. If the sky tone is blue-green or blue-violet, a redder orange or yellower orange tone should be used for the underpainting. Any time two colors that are directly opposite from each other on a color wheel are used, they will complete the spectrum of light. Of course, if they mix together, they will neutralize one another and produce a grayed tone. Conversely, if they visually appear in equal proportions, they can fight for importance, defeating the desired effect.

The sky in my painting, Eucalyptus Aglow (pastel, 16×12), was done over a warm pastel underpainting emphasizing the temperature of the sunlight versus the intensity of the actual blue sky.

Complementary Underpainting: Since the underpainting is meant to show through, even in minute proportions, it is of paramount importance that it be similar in value to the final blue sky. When value consistency is lost, surface integrity will be compromised and the warm and cool tones will appear very separate from one another and look like floating objects in the sky. The saturation (chromatic intensity) of the blue sky should also be considered. Is it very intense or a dull blue/gray sky? This will govern the brightness or weakness of the complementary toned underpainting. They need to share a similar intensity to create the vibration of color that represents light.

Underpainting Methods: The methods used for underpainting can be as simple as smearing a thin layer of warm toned pastel upon the painting surface, or as elaborate as doing any number of wet techniques involving pastel and various liquids. Mixed-media techniques can also be utilized if the surface can withstand the procedure and products.

Many successful landscape paintings rely on the viewer's imagination to fill in the blue of the sky. For them, it is more important to represent the overall temperature of light in the sky by substituting the glow of sunlight for an intense blue. To avoid the skies appearing like a sunrise or sunset, the warm yellow-red glow needs to be muted (grayed) in tone.

It's About Light: From these sky observations, it is clear that the prevailing temperature of sunlight is of equal importance to the perceived blue sky. If the earth indicates a warm light, so too should the sky. No matter if you choose to use an analogous fragmentation of blue, a complementary underpainting, or an emphasis of the warmth of the sunlight, it is ultimately all about light. The sky is the lampshade and the sun is the light bulb.




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New on DVD! Painting snow in pastel with Liz Haywood Sullivan!

New on DVD! Painting surface color and texture with Liz Haywood Sullivan!

New on DVD! Plein air painting in pastel with Liz Haywood Sullivan!


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Just Add Water: Four Basic Watercolor Pencil Techniques [feedly]


Just Add Water: Four Basic Watercolor Pencil Techniques
// Artist's Network

Woods and forests, meadows and fields, mountains and deserts: Cathy Johnson covers these and more in her new book, Painting Nature in Watercolor: 37 Step-by-Step Demonstrations Using Watercolor Pencil and Paint. She writes, "There are so many reasons to work outdoors: to drink in the beauty of nature; to find fresh, evocative, inspiring and challenging subjects; to spend time in the quiet places; to capture the liveliness of birds or the grace of a red fox; to learn about your environment; to perfect your skill; and just to be out where it's achingly beautiful. Whether you take a painting vacation, a field trip led by a naturalist/artist, or a trip to some exotic, untouched locale, or you find painting subjects virtually in your own backyard, you will find subjects enough for a lifetime."

Scroll down for Johnson's examples of how to create different effects with a watercolor pencil.

Until next time,

watercolor journal ideas

"Work across a two-page spread if you like, and create a montage of a single day," says Johnson. "Just keep adding till you run out of room. Design the page, use a grid with small, quick sketches or allow your design to evolve naturally to fill as much space as it seems to need. Here, the morning's grocery shopping included a sketch of a sweet hound waiting for his master, an ink sketch of the woodchuck that frequents a den under my deck and a watercolor of my backyard jungle completed later in the day. I added color to the dog and woodchuck later. This is in my hand-bound journal with hot-pressed watercolor paper."

Applying Basic Pencil Techniques With Water by Cathy Johnson

The effects you achieve depend not only on how you apply the pigments, but also on how you add water. I usually scribble tone in with an energetic zigzag effect. Then I wet with broad areas of water applied with a soft brush, yielding a blended wash with a bit of a linear pattern remaining. You may prefer a more controlled cross-hatching to achieve this broken tone–try it. Use a single color or as many as you like, either simultaneously or one at a time, washing with water and allowing it to dry before adding another.

how to use a watercolor pencil

Smooth Pencil, Water Added Lightly
I applied this dark violet with a fairly even application of pigment–nearly flat on the left of the color bar, fading to a relatively smooth but light application to the right. Then I quickly and lightly added water. It still lifted the pigment to a considerable degree, but you can see the pencil marks under it.

how to use a watercolor pencil

Smooth Pencil, Water Scrubbed Aggressively
Here, the effect is even more noticeable because the pigment was scrubbed somewhat aggressively with a brush and clear water to lift and blend it, losing the effect of the pencil underneath. Personally, I like the additional texture and interest the pencil gives in most cases, so I normally would use a lighter touch with my brush.

how to use a watercolor pencil

Loose Pencil, Water Applied Lightly
In this sample, I applied the violet pencil in a much looser fashion, fading off to obvious zigzags that still show under the lightly applied water. Note that the clear liquid still picks up a lot of the pigment.

how to use a watercolor pencil

Loose Pencil, Water Scrubbed Aggressively
In this last sample, I again lifted and blended the color aggressively. You can see that even with the obvious zigzagging of the pencil, you can achieve fairly smooth results. ~Cathy Johnson

You can still save 15% when you use the promo code ATVBEST at ArtistsNetwork.tv and access 300+ instructional art videos by professional artists in a wide variety of mediums, subjects, and skill levels. Click here to watch free watercolor painting previews! ~Cherie


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Palette Knife in Hand [feedly]


Palette Knife in Hand
// Artist Daily

The Beginning of Memory by Melinda Matyas, oil on canvas
The Beginning of Memory, oil on canvas, 2010.
All works by Melinda Matyas.

Palette knife painting sounds a little edgy and dangerous, but it's really all about texture—the thick impasto swipes and flat sweeps of color that make up the surface of an oil painting. I've never created an entire painting with just a palette knife before, and I wanted to see what the appeal was for Melinda Matyas, a Hungarian-born artist who works in Romania. Several of her pieces are in our Member Gallery.

Matyas definitely know what she is doing with this particular implement. She went through a "palette-knife period" for several years, painting with the tool no matter her chosen subject—self-portrait, figure study, still life, or cityscape. Nowadays, she isn't using just the knife, but combines it with her planar brushwork.

"Using the knife, the color remains more lightsome," says Matyas, referring to the fact that the bright patches of color in a palette-knife painting often have an airy, effortless appearance. The paintings also create a unique sense of dimension, which is the major appeal for me—it is like looking through the viewfinder of a shifting kaleidoscope.

Away by Melinda Matyas, oil on canvas
Away, oil in canvas, 2010.
A palette knife isn't just for putting down large swaths of color. You can use it to execute several oil painting techniques. The tip of the knife can be used for small details, the edge of it to create fine lines, and pressing the blade squarely into paint will squish paint out of the sides, and when you lift it up there'll be ridges. You can also use the sgraffito technique, which means to scratch through layers of paint to expose the underlayers of color, though you have to be careful not to nick your canvas when you do this.

Matyas' work has really opened my eyes to the possibility of working with a palette knife in a way I've never thought of before. It was like looking at her work gave me a complete oil painting lesson in one, which makes sense because sometimes the best insight and support an artist can receive is from fellow artists.

Matyas agrees. She came to Artist Daily "because of the quality of the articles and the vast information about art." And that is what Artist Daily is here to provide—a meeting place for artists across the world to come together and, most of all, to give you high-level instruction from our editors, writers, and artist-instructors. The same can be said for The Artist's Magazine, which strives to provide the same access and artful instruction that we all want and need to propel is forward in our work. Enjoy!

And if you have paintings and drawings that deserve some attention, post them in the Artist Daily Member Gallery. I'm always on the lookout for work that deserves to be showcased!

Blue Glass, oil on board Roundabout, oil on canvas
Blue Glass, oil on board, 2005. Roundabout, oil on canvas, 2011.


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Portrait Palimpsest [feedly]


Portrait Palimpsest
// Gurney Journey

When I'm working in a watercolor sketchbook, I don't get too worried if a sketch doesn't work out, because I can always start a new picture on top of the failed one.

This sketch of the draft horse Turk was painted over a restaurant portrait that got off to a wrong start. Beneath the horse, you can see the ghostlike yellowish shape of a man's head at center, with blue color around it. When I got home I just wet the whole surface of the paper and scrubbed out the details.

The next day I was visiting the farm, and I liked the way Turk looked in his stall. So I painted him over the portrait palimpsest. In the bargain I got a light effect that might not have occurred to me otherwise.

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