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Have you ever taken a class to further your skills and found a whole new way to approach the subject? Having painted in watercolor for several years now, I decided to take a class in painting Impressionist Watercolors and am finding myself challenged to see objects and scenes differently. (For example, when traveling in the car, I find myself looking at the road, trying to figure out what color I would paint the parts in the sun and in the shadow and I have to remind myself to pay attention if I’m the one driving!)
Impressionism is about seeing and representing light, light as it falls on objects and the shadows where light is reflected into spaces. Think of Monet and his paintings of haystacks (a series of twenty-five canvases, depicting the stacks at different times of day, different times of year, and different weather conditions). He wanted to put down on canvas the true colors that he was seeing, in both the lights and the shadows.
It’s interesting to note that the Impressionists appeared in history not many years after the development of the collapsible metal tube. With tubes, paint became portable and artists could now take their pigments outside in addition to grinding, formulating, and using them in the studio.
Our class started out with very basic exercises, including a color wheel and a value scale. This color wheel uses the primary color pigments of cadmium yellow, cadmium red, and cobalt blue, found in the largest circles. The secondary colors (green, purple, and orange) in the mid-sized circles are mixtures of the primary colors. The circles between the secondary colors are tertiary colors, also mixed from the primaries. Other pigments on my palette are represented by small squares of the pigments, outside the main circle if they are brighter than the mixtures and inside the circle if they are duller.
Katharine Trauger writes a blog about the joys of being at home and teaching your children at home. One of the comments I left on her blog recently was the 3,400th comment, and she asked me to write a guest post. I wrote about why I think it is important to teach your child to draw. You can see the post here.
I thought you might like to see all three versions on the same page.
You described the first version as:
sombre, pensive, like the end of autumn, quiet, lonely, open, calm, welcoming, smoky, hazy, lost, faded memories, depressing
The second version came across as:
mysterious, inviting, deep, meditative, introspective, moon-y, dangerous, magnetic, quiet, pensive, calming, unreal, peaceful, nighttime
And the final version was described as:
welcoming, calming, peaceful, quiet, dusk, a prelude to wet weather, somber, sad, unnatural
Thank you for all of your insightful comments!
Thanks to Sara Rosso of The Daily Post for this challenge. This past year has held many adventures, which are now wonderful memories.
The Daily Post has issued a challenge to post a portrait of the blogger doing whatever it is that inspires us to blog. Since my blog is about watercolor and art, and because I live near the Chesapeake Bay and often paint pictures of sailboats, here is a recent picture of me doing two of the things that inspire me: sailing and drawing.
This November day was chilly, and I was bundled up because of the wind and the cooler temperatures on the water.
The most interesting subject for me that day was my husband, who was at the helm of the boat. He has pointed out that the boat’s tiller is missing. Since he doesn’t like to have to sit still while I am drawing, I am challenged to capture a moving subject. Sometimes his right hand was on the tiller and at other times he was stabilizing it with his foot, so the tiller got left out.
And thank you, Daily Post for a wonderful way to celebrate: this is my 100th post!
You can see more answers to this challenge at the Daily Post.
I agreed to teach a couple of friends about watercolor basics, so I am reviewing the lessons that I found most valuable when I started painting. One of those was the making of a color chart, and since some of the pigments that I use have changed over the years, I decided to make a new one, and in the process, I’m learning things I missed the first time around!
Most of us learned as children that red and yellow mixed together make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make purple. And if we had perfect pigments, we could mix all the colors using the primaries of red, blue, and yellow. However, our pigments are not perfect, so the mixtures don’t make true secondary colors (orange, green, and purple).
One solution to this dilemma for the artist is to use two of each primary color, one tending toward “warm” and one tending toward “cool.” In the color wheel above, all of the colors in circles are pigments as they come from the manufacturer. There is nothing I can add to these pigments to make them brighter, truer colors. The rectangles are mixtures of two primaries. As soon as I start mixing two pigments together, the color starts to lose its brightness. None of the mixtures is as bright and true as the manufacturer’s secondary color (in circles outside the large circle). However, as you can see above, I get a truer orange when I mix a warm red with a warm yellow than when I mix a cool red with a cool yellow. A cool red and a cool blue make a truer purple than warm red and warm blue. And a warm blue and a cool yellow make a truer green.
So why is it we mix a warm and a cool for the green? I thought I was getting this – mixing warm colors with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors. Not so.
It has to do with complementary colors, those colors directly opposite one another on the wheel, i.e. red – green, blue – orange, and purple – yellow. When complementary colors are mixed together, they neutralize one another, making beautiful grays and taupes.
The warm yellow leans toward red, the complement of green, so it will yield a duller mixture than the cool yellow. Likewise, the cool blue tends toward red, yielding duller mixtures. So for a bright green, mix together a cool yellow and a warm blue.
Knowing how to mix bright colors and dull colors is useful for the artist, as a dull color surrounding a bright color will make it appear even brighter. Dull colors are more restful and convey a different mood than bright colors.
For an example of this, see Window in Assisi. I wanted to draw your eyes to the flowers on the windowsill, so I used bright colors there. The stones in the wall, although colorful, are duller colors, so they don’t attract as much attention.
Has this been interesting or useful to you? Do you prefer bright colors or duller colors?
Occasionally my abilities as an artist are put to use in other areas. I have been working on a mural for our church’s Vacation Bible School program. The theme of the event is “Olympion” and the organizers want a canvas with a large stadium on it. Here I am putting the spectators in the stands.
Working this large has been a challenge for me. Although the mural will hang in the front of the church, I have had to work on it while it is on the floor. Getting the perspective right has been a process of 1) draw the line, 2)step back as far as I can and still see the line, and 3) gauge if it looks okay. Erase and redraw. Repeat. After the drawing was complete, laying in the color just took a lot of time on my knees. I’ve also walked in and kneeled on the wet paint, tracking it over other portions. But unlike watercolor, latex paint is opaque and I can cover over the mistakes.
As I worked today, I was continually reminded of the verse from Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Inside the top of our grandfather clock, behind the face, is the movement, or the clock works. It is called the movement because it transfers the motion from the swing of the pendulum through the gears to the hands on the face of the clock. At the bottom of the pendulum is a screw for raising or lowering the disk, which makes the swing shorter or longer so the clock can be adjusted to keep time accurately. This grandfather clock doesn’t sound a deep bass “gong” as one might expect from a clock this size. Instead, the small bell visible at the top of the works gives out a soprano “ding” when struck by the clapper.
This watercolor picture was painted from a black and white photo that my mother took of my brothers and me (about 1963). In painting pictures of people, the important areas to get correct are (of course) the face, but not so obviously, the hands. One of the challenges for me here was to get the expressiveness of these chubby toddler hands correct.
The photo has turned sepia and spotted with age, but by concentrating on the lights and shadows and making up my own colors, I have brought it back to life. My mother remembers taking the photo, so I have painted it again, and she now has the most recent rendition hanging in her bedroom. The first time I painted it was for a present for my older brother (the one on the left), and this second edition is at our house.