Sunday, February 10, 2013

Three Ways to Save Whites when Watercolor Sketching

Daily Sketch "Apple"

Pencil, Sharpie Pen, Koi Watercolors

Today at my "Impressions of the Gardens" class, which is through

the Colorado Free University and held at the Denver Botanic Gardens,

we talked about "saving whites" and observing light and shadow

related to the object being sketched.  By saving whites I mean making
sure that highlights in the object are preserved or saved when the
object is colored in order to give your painting more sparkle and realism.

I had them draw their pears or apples in pencil, ink their drawings when satisfied,
then erase the pencil.  I also had them sketch in the highlights and shadow(s)
underneath and make penciled in notes of the main areas of dark and light.  

We used techniques to "save whites" in three ways
  1. Noting areas of light and making light pencil marks to indicate them
  2. Using masking fluid (I really like the fine line Masquepen)
  3. Using a stiffer brush to gently "lift" color after the paint is dry or
    while it is still wet.
I think that most readers will understand about taking care to not paint
highlighted areas so I will not discuss number 1.  Number two, the 
use of masking fluid, is probably also familiar, but I think that many
have yet to discover Masquepen.  Unlike usual masking fluid that is hard
to control and can ruin your brushes, the Masquepen is a fine tip bottle
that allows you to accurately place masking fluid where you want to 
protect areas from further layers of paint.  Once the masking fluid is
dry you can add more layers, let the layers dry, then rub off with your
finger or a rubber cement eraser.

The third method is a bit of magic that proves that watercolor is easier to
manage than is believed.  Using a slightly stiff damp brush gently rub
on the area where you want to lift color.  Blot the damped area with a
cloth or paper towel.  Magically, with most colors (except the most 
staining) the color will lift.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sketching Kitchen Leaves

Bay Leaves
Pencil sketch with Koi Watercolors
It's a cold February day and I don't feel like venturing out. So drawing bay leaves.
Loving daily sketching and feel like I've found a daily practice that makes
 me feel skillful and like I'm developing my drawing skills and also my power
 of observation.  

 This brings together so many of my interests and passions: 

  1. The Plein Air art of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionists
  2. Landscapes/drawing from nature
  3. The sacred quality of Nature and the value of of closely observing Nature
  4. The Denver Botanic Gardens and Botanical Illustration
  5. Visual Journals

 All this also informs the classes I teach through Colorado Free University.
 I have my Impressions of the Gardens class which I have had the opportunity
 to teach for a couple of years and one I am going to start soon: Botanical Art Journal.
 Like Plein Air art with simple supplies and a sketchbook.  I've also just become
 aware of the  Urban Sketching movement. Feel blessed!  Now, if I could only
 figure out how any of these endeavors could pay the rent.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stencil Crazy

"Mother Earth Tile"
MaryBeth Shaw "Tile" stencil from the Stencil Club, Balzer Design Stencil.
Watercolor with Gelly Roll pen accents.

Just A Trace stencil "Garbo" stencil.  Watercolor, Derwent Watercolor Pencil,  Sharpie pen.

Detail, 3 Peppers with Stencil

3 Peppers with "Stencil"
I used the cardboard waste from punch out letters as a stencil in this one.
I've used this window-like "stencil" again and again.

Orchid with Stencil
This is a blind contour drawing with stenciled elements  and additional lines added.
Koi watercolors.
I've always loved the rich patterns often found in paintings by Matisse and now I have a not so secret
secret about how to create that effect in my work with fewer tears.  Stencils!!  

This is how it happened.  Element 1: Libby Unwin from Just a Trace was a guest speaker at the first
meeting of my Visual Journaling Group, Colorado (see meetup and facebook)at the Super Good ArtStuff 
art supply store in Denver, Colorado, in the Tennyson Cultural District.  She brought stencils
for us and we used spray ink to create journal pages.  Fun!

Element 2:  I started an online class with one of my favorite artists Jane LaFazio: "Sketching and
Watercolor, Journal Style".  I love Jane's journals and so great to learn some of her techniques.  I'm
working on emulating her way of keeping her whites and sparkle, working quickly and not overworking.

Element 3: I joined Marybeth Shaw's Stencil Club and joined her related facebook page. This means that
I get a packet of three or four stencils each month (large, medium, small, smaller) and have access to
a related video with techniques for using the stencils.  The facebook group is great too--very inspiring to
see how creative others use materials.

So Jane's course assignments ended up with stenciled backgrounds and I'm crazy about the effect.

How I did it:
  1. Draw your still life in pencil
  2. Ink with a permanent marker
  3. Erase pencil lines
  4. Draw a square or rectangle around the drawing
  5. Lay down stencil and use pencil to draw in a patterned background
  6. Watercolor the whole thing
Looking forward to making some paintings in acrylic and getting my Matisse on!