Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tea Cup Rose.....Alla Prima in Golden Open Acrylics

Tea Cup Rose
8x10 inches-acrylic
from my own photo

This blog post is about my picking back up on an old and very popular technique.....alla prima...or painting all at one time. In this case I also am working impressionistically and eschewing as much detail as I can “artistically” stand.

I took the source photo using a tea cup found at a antique shop, with some roses from the backyard, all backlit, resting on a needlepoint piece I'd done years ago. Since the roses were the “main character” here, I begin painting on them. I was using a few reds, a yellow and a blue of some Golden Open acrylics.....acrylic paints that closely mimic oils, both in their painting texture and in their “open” or wet time. I began daubing paint here and there, keeping all the colours in a “high” or light colour register. I finished most of the flower colours, but wasn't too impressed with the painting yet. I didn't take a pic at that point but this Photoshopped one shows it about right.

There just wasn't a lot of “oomph” to this so far. But then I started to lay in the background of the darkened windowsill to the outside shrubs, and the shadowed leaf and the black accents of the tea cup......and the sunlight began to shine! The darks (blue with a brown) became black and the background (greyed blues and browns and greens) began to make the peaches of the flowers POP!

I'd been inspired to try this technique by an article in a magazine, which offered the advice for this kind of impressionistic, opaque-paint painting of starting out with your darkest value then keeping in a “mid range” for as long as possible and finish up with highlights. The fact that I was also painting on a canvas board, (a rarity for me.....) helped a bunch when I wanted to paint in more details and more details, but the painting “said” it wanted to be more about colours than details.

After I got most of the rest of the painting laid in, I stepped back to see what else needed to be done.....

As you can see in the pic I made up a bitty list of the things I wanted to check over before I called it “DONE”! I wanted to concentrate my attention on:

Making one more “colour pass” to check and see that my colours were where they needed to be to successfully pull off the illusion of the tea cup and roses.

Checking again that my values were in alinement with the rest of the scene. I intentionally kept the roses and tea cup a bit lighter in all over values to keep the lively colours in the shadows.

Tilted the back windowsill just a bit more, to make sure that the composition wasn't too static, but still looked “right”.

Kept my warm reds/peaches in the sunlight, and the cooler versions in the shadows of turning petals. And added the blue reflected lights (of the sky) where the petals turned over.

Made sure that the petals further away from the viewer had “lost” edges (were blurred) and the ones closer to the center sharp focus were more crisp and sharp, or “found”.

Finally I allowed a bit more details on the petals of the foreground rose. I had to almost “slap” my own hand to keep from adding more details in the cup......but I managed to leave most all “well enough alone.”

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Windowsill of Leaves watercolour with just a pinch of colored pencil

Windowsill of Leaves
8 x 10 inches, 2 ply bristol board, various watercolour brands,
 liquid misket and a bit of Prisma coloured wax pencils, 
from my own photograph

This time around I'm showing a small-ish watercolour I did from a pic I took of a bunch of fall leaves piled up in my kitchen windowsill. I put a green cup in one corner and a bottle of olive oil in the other, to hold them in place. I adored how the sunlight filtered thru the different layers of the multi-hued leaves.

I was so in love with the leaf colours I just had to start right in on a leaf, the minute I had the composition sketched in. I decided I wanted to do a 360 degree turn from my poured wash technique of the past few watercolours. I “outlined” the first leaf in water, using the water's surface tension to define the borders for the orangey green colour. I then dipped in the tip of a color heavy brush into the water and pushed it around, then let it dry. I repeated that with the next colours and the following leaf.

I knew that I wanted the window to be dark to provide a foil for the sunlit leaves, so I ran a bead of misket around the upper leaves and the olive oil bottle. I also wanted to use some light coloured wax colored pencils to “reserve” lights for the veins in the leaves and sunlit halos on the edges of the leaves. I also drew in some defining lines in the olive oil bottle.

I continued on doing each leaf separately, and adding in the green glass cup over the background leaves.

After getting the leaves roughed in, I put in the dark blue/purple window background. The bead of misket kept the wash just where I wanted and not in the leaves. In a couple of the smaller bits of background, I just used the wax white coloured pencils as a resist to the watercolour wash.

Now that I had the darkest darks in the picture, I could see how I wanted to finish up on the further leaves and their shadowed forms. The olive oil bottle was coming along nicely. After I laid in the background shadowed leaves, all I had to do to recover the bottle's glow, was run a damp brush over the wax coloured pencil line, and the dark watercolour lifted off like magic. There were some spots, like the highlit veins in the leaves that were drawn in almost too thick with the wax coloured pencil. I just painted in the leaf colours right over the coloured pencil lines. After it was dry I just removed the thickness of the leaf vein that I wanted, leaving the rest of the too thick line underneath the darker watercolour.
I'd drawn so many leaf veins that I'd sorta forgotten exactly where they all were. Each time I finished up on a leaf, I'd try removing some watercolour for a vein, and was delighted to find a “saving” wax coloured pencil mark just where it needed to be!