an art-space, from your place!
Sue's home studio with Bronte the chocolate lab
Here we can keep the spirit of our Thursday art classes alive. Even though we're now stuck at home, we can escape through art, set aside some healthy 'me-time' and keep painting!
Email me your works in progress and they can be shared on this page for the rest of the art class. And why not send a pic of your 'home/art-space too'!
I'll give feedback, and can add comments to the uploaded images.
Watercolour over oil pastel on paper
" ...then input in a more ominous sky!!! " Sue sent in two images of her watercolour done after her recent visit.
Compare these 'before and after' shots: the addition of the dramatic clouds (top) creates a drama and new focus. The clouds, being lighter on the left side, draw attention to that side of the island with its imposing spire. The viewer is also led from the light sky area down and across to the right to the darker side of the island . Here there's less tonal contrast with the now darker sky. This tonal shift works a treat!
In compositions, horizontals generally have a calming effect. By introducing diagonal eye movement, this disturbs the peace, so to speak. Sue's clouds work to give that drama. The wet-in-wet technique is also a great counterpoint to the horizontal brushstrokes of the waves. The detail in the island is perfectly balanced between suggestion and definition.
ABOVE and BELOW:
Oil on canvas
Marion's powerful portrait is now finished!
It's a great mix of techniques that really exploit what oils can do. The detail below shows the loose, suggestive, translucent watercolour-like brush-marks in the background compared to the opaque solidity of the figure. The face has a nice use of warm and cool too. The soft lighting from the side is followed through in the fabric and hands. Such believable light gives a convincing sense of form!
Oil on canvas
Marion's use of oils also takes advantage of the versatility of this paint to flit between translucent and opaque.
Compare the additional details in the face and background to the earlier stage (scroll down...)
Acrylic on canvas
Taking a break from watercolour and shifting media to acrylic shows how similar techniques can successfully crossover between the media! Diluted acrylic or oil paint will also have a glow and translucency when applied over a white surface... the markmaking really shows too: here the brushmarks have a lively energy. This looseness can be left as is, allowed to subtlety show through with further transluscent layers, or covered in further opaque coats. The advantage of acrylics and oils is this option to switch between opaque and translucent - to cover or not to cover!
Watercolour over white oil pastel
Watercolour over white oil pastel (detail)
This detail of Gwen's watercolur is a great example of combining two key watercolour techniques: wet-in wet, and wet on dry.
Have a look at the edges of the washes: in some cases they are soft, blending in to the adjacent area - this helps define the rounded rocky forms. Running a wet brush over edges can give this effect as well as painting into a wet wash.
Other edges are hard, which can only be achieved when the paint beneath is dry. This aptly named 'wet on dry' technique is perfect for creating the crisp edges used here to create the strong boundaries between dark and light, whether they are cast shadows or shapes against the sky. The edge is also accentuated by that peculiar watercolour effect where a border forms at the edge of each stroke.
This is a great example of the effectiveness of a limited palette. The Ultramarine Blue in the shadows works together with the browns and Mars Violet, as a bleeding wet-in-wet effect. Minute touches of pure blue create powerful little hits of colour too.
This is one of a series of studies of Windy Harbour rocks. With each study, a different approach is explored The use of the white oil pastel resist in this work breaks up the washes and also gives a suggestive rocky texture.
Another of Gwen's approaches is seen below. Water-soluble pencils are applied in tonal areas, with key edges defined and outlined where needed. The water layer than turns the drawing into a painting: the sky area is indistinguishable from a normal watercolour!
oil on canvas (detail)
In this updated shot of Marion's artwork, the rocks have really taken shape! Highlights have been wiped back, revealing the canvas texture and an illusion of rocky surface. Note too how this effect varies in intensity across the rocks: the more wiping, the lighter the tone. There's a strategic eye-catching tonal contrast running along the cast shadow edge - very effective!
A similar technique can be used with watercolours on paper: just go easy on the wiping back! (an effective method is to wet the area first (sponge or brush) then blot, blot and blot: up and down rather than side to side, to avoid tearing the damp paper surface. Some papers respond better than others to this treatment, so perhaps experiment first!)
watercolour over oil pastel
The resist effect used here with watercolour over white oil pastel works beautifully. It brings the foreground rocks forward and creates a very rock-like texture!
The same effect is seen below in one of Sue's thumbnail sketches. In each of these, varying approaches and techniques to the same subject were explored, such as comparing oil pastel with candle wax as a resist effect.
watercolour over oil pastel (detail from thumbnail sketch)
Thumbnail sketches: (clockwise) masking fluid; pastel; blotting; candle wax
Sheep: white crayon and watercolour wash
Landscape: masking fluid and and watercolour wash
These thumbnail sketches demonstrate various ways light areas can be achieved in watercolours. Masking fluid is the most dramatic method, giving a sharp edge, perfect for crisp definition - as in the first stage of Karen's landscape, where the tree branches had been masked before the wet-in-wet watercolour wash, setting up a great depth effect.
Planning ahead in watercolours is pretty important, as is working light to dark. There are many ways of creating white areas, from masking fluid, masking tape, 'reserving whites' (that is, leaving areas of the original paper untouched) , to resist effects (such as oil pastel, wax crayon, wax candle).
However, a wet wash can also be 'lifted' to lighten areas. Blotting into a wet wash gives a softer edge effect too - great for clouds and sheep!
Another method, once washes are dry, is using chalk pastel over the top. This extends the watercolour into 'mixed media' techniques, and is great for emphasising texture and working light on dark.
watercolour over white oil pastel
Oil and water don't mix. But, it's this very quality that works beautifully as a resist effect, such as in this watercolour where white oil pastel has been applied under the washes. In the detail you can see how the texture of the rough paper plays it's part too: the pastel skips over the bumpy surface, creating a scattered dotty effect.
The neat crisp edges on Rosina's work were done using tape ('Magic Tape' by Scotch) around the edges. This is removed once the painting is finished.
watercolour and white gouache
oil on canvas
There is a surprising amount of crossover between watercolour and other mediums. Here, Marion is using fluid watercolour techniques in oil paint. If there's a white surface underneath - such as this gesso-primed canvas - then the same principle applies!
By adding a little bit of paint to lots of your favorite fluid painting medium (here, a home brew of linseed oil and odourless solvent), you can achieve similar wet-in wet interactions. The same effects can be acheived in acrylics; just remenber to use a water-based fluid medium!
In Marion's portrait, the same fluid techniques were used for the background. The figure is being worked up from light to dark, with the added benefit of opaque lights being able to cover - something you cant do in watercolours unless you add gouache...
watercolour and gouache
... Gouache is used here to great effect. Mixed directly into the watercolour paints or applied diluted over the watercolour paint, white gouache has a cooling effect on colours, shifting the hues towards blue. It also gives the paint covering power. This opacity is gives forms - such as the leaves and wall - a certain substance and solidity.
watercolour and white gouache
Here's two examples of white gouache used with watercolours...
In Karen's work (above), the opacity of the gouache really comes into play. Touches of the paint in the hair give it 'body'. In the shirt , the gouache gives a solidity which contrasts with the translucency of the fabric (which is painted with watercolour only). The suggestive wet-in-wet background a great example of what watercolours do so well when allowed to do their thing!
There is a similar effect in Martha's work below. The texture of the paint on the white shirt sleeve also works to make that foreground area advance. It not only creates a sense of depth, but contrast effectively with the looser more fluid marks in the background. In the faces and arms, white gouache has also been mixed in with the watercolours. This tinting with white also has a great effect of making these areas appear solid, giving real sense of volume...
watercolour and white gouache
watercolour and white gouache (detail)