Category Archives: watercolor painting techniques

Don’t Talk About it, Just Do It!

Hydrangeademo3

Hydrangea, 30 minute class demo, watercolor on  paper  overall size approx 9″ x 7″ 

As a teacher we often face challenges on the best way to impart knowledge to our students. Most of us recognize that our students are individuals with various levels of ability and experience.  I think one thing is certain.  Many of us are visual learners to one degree or another. This is not just confined to art students. Years ago I taught private lessons to a pretty well known thoracic surgeon who had recently retired from a teaching hospital. As we progressed in our lessons he remarked that my teaching approach was very similar to the model his institution had used. They had labeled it as “Do one, teach one.”   While artists may not think of themselves as surgeons there are some similarities.  Painters, like surgeons must have good visual acuity and excellent hand eye coordination.  Like many students they do better with concrete visual demonstrations that help support any written or spoken theory they may have.

Don’t talk; paint!

Many  years ago I was a student in an art school. I had come from a university and was very well versed in all sorts of verbal art theory.  In the first few days my new teacher cut me off in mid sentence with the stinging words,  “Shut up and paint!”. Excellent advice.  These days I still take that to heart. If you want to talk art, do that outside the studio with friends or acquaintances.  If you are trying to help a fellow painter or student then SHOW THEM, don’t talk about it. At least that is my philosophy. I try to do impromptu demos for my students at least once a month, often more frequently. Whenever a question about an approach or techniques arises I get out my watercolor block paper and paints. We work out the issue at hand. No involved preliminary, just a simple sketch at best and then color. It seems to work wonders.

Recently one of my students was contemplating painting a hydrangea. If you love flowers then you know that this is one mass of flower petals that can be rather complex. So where do you start?  How do you capture it?  If you are the least bit compulsive you may want to attempt to capture every blossom.  That can be a worthy goal but far too often one winds up with a stiff presentation of an over worked mess.  This is especially true if you are just embarking upon our journey in painting.

Progression:

Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a shot of the first layer of wash but hopefully you get the idea. First I want to dispel the prevailing myth that one cannot alter watercolor.  In my opinion all painting is a series of refinements. I think these two examples demonstrate that fact. The first application  was a general blob of new Gamboge that was of varying intensity that sort of approximated the overall shape of the flower mass.  It was allowed to dry.  Then each progressive wave of color  was applied with increasing accuracy. Note the leaf structure in the first passage. It is no where near the proper size and the beginning layers of color in the flower appear to depict a type of rose instead of a hydrangea. The permanent magenta was strengthened with some thalo blue as the application of washes progressed.  You can  see how the thalo blue washes influenced the magenta to create a violet hue in places. Only a few key areas were refined to give the impression of individual petals.  In final approach the stems of sap green and some thalo blue  were painted on a fairly dry surface. Remember, if you want soft edges paint wet into wet, if you want sharp edges paint directly onto dry paper.

Flowers can be deceptive. Often the color is strong but the edges are at times softly  blended. Start wet into wet and progress into dry applications as you seek to get more detail. Trying to explain this verbally is most difficult. Watching the painting progress is far superior. The student’s question was answered and she was able to apply the lesson to her own work.

Things to Think About:

Like other media, watercolor can be refined. Start with a general shape and get specific with each additional stroke. Look for a focal point in order to convey the spirit of your subject. If your first stroke is not too accurate seek to correct successive strokes. FOCUS. Glazing techniques in watercolor can be an excellent way to introduce subtle as well as dramatic color arrangements into your work. An added benefit is the illusion of depth due to multiple layers of color. As a general rule make sure each wash is completely dry before applying the next wash. If you need more softness or variation in effect you can alternate layers of wet into wet application with passages of direct application. The possibilities are limited by your imagination. For ideal effect just make sure each wash is dry before you apply the next. This piece took about 30 minutes to complete so don’t think that glazing can’t be quick and easy.   Like anything else; practice makes perfect.

Artists on the Bluff Watercolor Classes With Don Rankin:

This is a typical class demo that is done when certain techniques need clarification. We do quite a few of these types of lessons. If you are close to the area, we meet every Thursday morning from 9-11:30 am. You can contact Ms. Linda Williams, the Director of Artists on the Bluff Art Center,  Bluff Park, Alabama for details at 205-532-2769. artistonbluff@gmail.com

Want to know more about watercolor glazing techniques?  Buy Direct:                       Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol I by Dr. Don Rankin is available at http://www.createspace.com/3657628  

The Antique Shop http://www.createspace.com/350893        Enjoy a 1 hour 55 minute remastered classic now available in DVD format, even better quality than the original VHS.  A live on site demonstration includes painting with the glazing technique plus additional tips on selecting and composing the elements for the painting.

Study watercolor glazing techniques on line with Don Rankin:                   https://www.Udemy.com/mastering-glazing-techniques-in-watercolor.com

Watercolor classes every Thursday, except holidays, with Don Rankin at Artists on the Bluff, Bluff Park, Alabama. Contact: Ms. Linda Williams, Director, 205-532-2769. artistonbluff@gmail.com  Come enjoy one on one instruction geared for beginner as well as intermediate and advanced students.

 

 

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