Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Secrets of Watercolour Paper - Painting & Drawing Tips

NEW WORKS FROM THE STUDIO OF ART BY WENDY - Etsy Shop Now Open

Buried deep in your studio are Secrets.  Waiting, yes waiting for you to find.  They are little treasures that once found, will change your work forever.  Their simplicity, Their magic, can turn the simplest art piece into something special.  

My last post on painting backgrounds (see here) was all about lifting and glazing with watercolours. Lifting off a bit of colour can soften a spot, lighten a colour or just clean up an edge. Glazing is almost like magic changing a colour, to something no tube of paint can produce.
A PEACEFUL MOMENT - 3 x 4 Ink & Watercolour

My little picture "A Peaceful Moment" grew out of my practice wash from the last post.  That flower looked so lonely I felt it needed a butterfly.  And the background wash worked out so well I decided to finish it.

That's when I realized my mistake.

I had not talked about the paper when I talked about the lifting and glazing.  All Watercolour paper is not the same.  Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Lifting and glazing is not for every type of watercolour.

The Secret to Success is about the paper.

My practice piece was done on a Student Grade 140lb hot press paper.  Nice smooth surface for drawing with ink, holds the colours well for light glazing and gives intense colours.  However, when it came to lifting, I was in trouble.  The surface started to breakdown with even the softest touch of my scrubber brush.  (see brush here)  The Arches 140lb hot press paper, my normal paper, and the one I used for the main piece is stronger and will take that light scrubbing.

Here is the issue:
You want to practice but having the right paper does make the difference.  It all depends on what you want to do:
  • wet washes that mix and move on the paper
  • lifting and correcting
  • glazing over your colours
  • dry brushing
  • mixing ink drawing or other mixed media
  • working large
  • working small

The list goes on but let's start here. Disclaimer: I refer to the Artist Quality brands of paper most readily available here and that I have worked with. There are other good quality brands that may be more readily available in your area.  The point is, check your paper, it may not be designed for what you want.
Types of  Paper: (Lto R) Paint Book, Illustration Board, Paint Block, more Paint Books, Behind: Sheets of Arches 140 lb & 300 lb paper.

Paint Books,
 usually have 90-140lb paper in them: paint will lift off nicely, colours will be bright, they like drybrushing, nice surface for mixing ink drawing and watercolour;   will buckle with a wet wash, hard to glaze colours as the under-painting will lift off easily.

Illustration Board: rigid, wont buckle, lovely surface for drawing on with ink first, shows the watercolours off well;    doesn't take a really wet wash, likes dry brushing rather than glazing, not easy to lift off colour

Paint Blocks, Arches 140lb paper: strong paper for lifting, mixed media, wet washes.  The block hold your paper flat so if it does buckle with the wet wash it will dry flat afterwards;   hard to work on more than one picture at a time, surface is a little rough for detail ink drawing
 
Arches 140lb (300 gsm) Paper:
Cold Press:
strong paper, takes a good wash, lifts and glazes, takes mixed media, easy to blend edges;   rough surface for detailed drawing in ink, larger pieces will buckle if too wet,
Hot Press: great for drawing on with ink, brighter colours than Cold Press, good for layering colour with a dry brush;   grabs the paint so not good for really wet washes, lift carefully as a more delicate surface than the Cold Press, hard to blend edges

Saunders 200lb Paper: excellent paper to work with, holds the water well for washes, stays wet longer for adding those soft details to the washes, doesn't buckle with ta wet wash;   a slightly cheaper alternative to the 300lb paper, can be hard to find as many places only carry the 300lb paper.

Arches 300lb (638 gsm) Paper: the top of the line, does everything you want: lifting, glazing, wet washes, mixed media, wont buckle;  very expensive for practicing, a little rough for detailed ink work,

Each type of Watercolour Paper holds its own bag of tricks.  They are secrets waiting for you to discover.  If you treasure them and use them wisely, your work will flourish.  Ignore them to your own peril.

What is your favourite paper?  What are its secrets that make it work for you?

Yes, I will get back to that more detailed background I promised but before that, we need to talk paint and  Lifting and Glazing,  Yes more secrets there.  See you next week.

Etsy Shop now Open: WendyMouldsArt  Come on In!!


Special Note to Artists: 
February is Marketing Month for Artists, time to really work on your Business Plan. Join me for a full day of getting ready to make 2017 your Best Sales Year ever.  

All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There -  March 5, 10-3pm.  This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners  & Skytrainers give me a call and we can set something up.

The Work of Art Conference  Saturday, March 11, 9-4pm  - 6 Sessions + Lunch, Arts Council of Surrey, Newton Cultural Center, Surrey, BC.  Sessions focus on very specific Marketing Skills.  My Presentation: Creating a Strong Online Profile, other sessions: Using the News media as a Promotional Tool, Grant Writing, Navigating the Publishing World, Business Plan Development. Great opportunity to learn some new skills.  $25 Register by March 3, $40 after that.  Call 604-594-2700 to Register.

 Be sure to like and share my posts.
 You won't miss a single one if you Follow by Email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar on my blog)
 Have a great artful day,
Wendy

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Painting Those Pesky Backgrounds - Painting and Drawing Tips

NEW WORKS FROM THE STUDIO OF ART BY WENDY

Somehow you run into trouble on every picture.  You have a great subject, you definitely know how to paint but What to do with the Background?

It can't be too dark. Too light. Too busy. Too plain.  Don't you just want to give up!!

Take heart, you are not alone.  This is something every artist struggles with.

Flowery Treats for Hummingbirds - Watercolour, 7.5 x 9.5 Available
Flowery Treats for Hummingbirds started out in one of my favourite ways; an ink drawing of my flowers.  I love the combination of ink with watercolour.  But what to do with the background.  Blackeyed Susie flowers are not very helpful.  They stand up tall, well about their foliage so you can't sneak that in the background.  You are just on your own.

I like to start with layers, just like in my drawings. 

First I lay a light wash of all my colours for the flowers and background around my flowers. (note my small sample piece below.  Sorry I got so caught up in my original picture I forgot to take those early shots)  No, I didn't use frisket, just wet everything and laid down colours letting them mix or not on the paper.  I let this dry.  I don't use a blow dryer at this point as I want the paint to do it thing.  Don't worry if you get a bit on your subject, use your scrubber brush to gently work the colour off when it is dry and do the same to tidy up the edges.  Note the soft scrubbing done on the lower stem.
Sample: First wash with all my colours - 5 x 7
Once this was dry, I drew in my hummingbird.
Again I used my scrubber brush to lighten up my bird but did leave some colour.  The hummingbird is going to reflect the colours in the picture so I needed it to have some of them in his body.
My Scrubber - a #8 Chisel Blender.  Firm enough to shrub the paint but soft enough not to hurt the paper. 
Paint your Flowers (Subject)
At this point I stopped and painted my flowers and my hummingbird. It is much easier to see what is happening in your subject when you don't have the white paper all around.  Also it gave me a check that I have all my colours in the background. 

More Layers added to the background
Yes, you can add layers and layers to the background.  But there are a few simple rules to follow. Make sure it is totally dry before you start.  Use a soft wet brush to wet the area first.  Make sure it is wet enough to skip over the surface.  You don't want to be dragging the under painting around. Then glaze over the background with your paint.  I like to use thin layers each time rather than one thick one as I like the underlying colours to show through.  Very similar to the shading we did in the drawing, adding the value in layers rather than pressing hard and going to the darkest dark all at once.  (See the last post series on Drawing A Seagull with Pencil for more thoughts on this)

Watch what is happening
As you add each layer, watch how your colours are changing.  They are talking to you.  I like to study it after each layer in different lights.  The colours become very rich with the other layers shining through.  As I get darker I also begin to leave some areas light.  For those areas I used a wet brush to keep the edges soft as I moved from glazing to non glazing areas.  If you leave dry edges you will have sharp edges in the background once everything dries.  

Finally Flowery Treats for Hummingbirds is complete!

Are backgrounds a problem for you? Do you have a few tricks that work well?
My next post has a very complex background with lots of tall grass.  Certainly a challenge to work with that.

Etsy Shop now Open: WendyMouldsArt  Come on In!!

Special Note to Artists: 
February is Marketing Month for Artists, time to really work on your Business Plan. Join me for a full day of getting ready to make 2017 your Best Sales Year ever.  (Still one or two spaces left for each day)

All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There - Sunday, Feb 26 or March 5, 10-3pm.  This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners  & Skytrainers give me a call and we can set something up.


 Be sure to like and share my posts.
 You won't miss a single one if you Follow by Email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar on my blog)
 Have a great artful day,
Wendy

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Drawing A Seagull - Part 2 - Painting and Drawing Tips

NEW WORKS FROM THE STUDIO OF ART BY WENDY
Welcome back
Today is the exciting part of drawing: Bringing that seagull to life by shading him in.  If you haven't drawn your seagull yet, follow along step by step in my last post here.
My Seagull - note my materials and the ipad screen for reference
To start, organize your materials:

(moving left to right) I have kneaded eraser, 5/8 inch blender, 1/4 inch blender, 3B pencil, soft watercolour round brush size 4 (dedicated to drawing), F pencil & 2B pencil, a paper to rest my hand on, a drawing chamois and my 1 inch brush to clean my work. And of course a value scale.  I keep my little 10 point scale in front of me. #10 the darkest and #1 the white of the paper.   (If you are making one, be sure and use the kind of paper you are drawing on as it will give you the right information for your paper)

When I return to a drawing I like to warm up a bit before heading to critical spots.
I like to lay in the darks first 
So I am going to start with my wing area. Every artist has their own method to start, I like to lay out my dark areas first and then fill in with my lights.  I am using my 2B and putting down a 5 Value for the darker areas on the wing.  Then very lightly, about a 3, I shaded in the whole area.  By doing the darks first you can just shade lightly over everything without worrying about stopping at edges.

Next take your blender and gently shade over everything.
Blend from dark to light to soften all the edges
 I use a circular motion so I don't end up with unwanted lines. Note the smooth texture as you flatten the tooth of the paper.  Also note how you drag the dark areas to the lighter areas as you go.  Now taking my kneaded eraser I lighten up the areas that are too dark. With my 3B I go in and touch up any of my darks bring some up to an 8 or 9.
Lighten and touch up time.  Keep that shoulder area soft and light


Now I head for the legs and feet.
The legs can be left unblended as their texture will contrast with the soft the feather area


You know how I love those knobbly little legs.  Using a 3B I pick out the darks. Then using my F pencil I lightly fill in the legs and feet.  Again picking out the lights with my kneaded eraser.

Finish up the tops of the legs and the underpart of the wing.

Take your smaller blender and load up with graphite.  See my scribble on my paper under my hand.  That is where I load my blender and then shade in the tops of the legs and under the wing.  Again, using small circular motions.

Now the head.

Go slow here, work in layers rather than hit the darkest dark right away
I feel warmed up and ready for precise work so I head for the face. Again first working on the darks of the eyes and the beak.  Note the beak is really only a 7 in the shadow area and the top part is about a 2.  I save that for my blender.  Once the eye and beak are done I take my blender and draw in the darker shadows. I follow that up with a soft brushing to blend the edges of my shadows.  At the lightest part of his head, really soften your line so the light can come into his head.  It really intensives the idea of the white.

Just the belly to go now. 
The light pencil area is only in the darkest part of  the belly.

The belly has some real darks in the shadow area.  I know, hard to believe when you are talking about white. But it will probably be an 8 or 9 in the darkest part by the time I am done.  It is important to think in layers and not rush to your darks.  I first laid a light pencil shading to the darkest area.

Sometimes it seems like nothing is happening but be patient and build up the layers

Then using my chamois I rubbed the graphite in.  It is important to get rid of all the pencil lines.  Now loading my chamois, just as I did the blender I build up layers on the belly.  You can add some more layers with your pencil but lightly as you do not want to leave any lines.

Final touches

Once I have the main belly area done, I take my blender to tidy up the edges.  With your finger in the chamois it is hard to do the small detailed areas and to finish up the edges.  Note that light shadow under his beak as it helps to convey the roundness of the belly.

The logs
Tidy up the belly and move on to the logs, the end is in sight!
As you probably guessed, I first drew in my dark areas with my 3B.  Then followed up with my 2B lightly shading over the logs, individually. Now I am using long strokes to shade as I want to simulate the grain on the logs.  Areas that I wanted to 'bump up' a little darker I glazed over with my F pencil.  Note: To really make your seagull 'stand' on the log, pay close attention to where the feet and log meet.

Your done!! 

 Looks good.  What is your favourite part of the drawing?  I love my little knees but I am particularly happy with how his face turned out and I love my logs.  I can really feel the smooth texture of those weathered logs.  (Remember, positive thoughts before that mean old critic gets in there.  See my post on 3 Ways to Turn Drawing Despair into Action here. )

 Take the Plunge and start drawing!  If you want some help I have several ways to help:

1. Zentangle Doodle Card Classes:
Thursday, Feb 16, 1:30 - 3:30pm & 6-8pm Expressions Art Gallery, Maple Ridge.
Saturday, Feb. 18, 10:30-12:30 (FULL) & 2-4pm. (1 Spot Left) Art by Wendy Studio, N. Surrey   $30 Supplies Included. We will be working with mice and owls on our Zentangle Doodle Cards  (you knew I would have animals somewhere) Contact Wendy to REGISTER

2. Buy a few of my Zentangle Doodle Cards and start  Colouring. See my collection here.   They are fabulous fun, just imagine how special your cards will be when you personalize them like that.  Those special people in your life will cherish your cards.

3. Private Drawing Lessons -  2.5 hr sessions in my studio, flexible scheduling to fit your schedule. 3 lesson package $225. Beginners to Adanced are welcome.  Adults, Teens and Younger Students. ( $35 for 1 hour sessions for younger students.) more info here

Special Note to Artists: 
February is Marketing Month for Artists, time to really work on your Business Plan. Join me for a full day of getting ready to make 2017 your Best Sales Year ever.  

All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There - Sunday, Feb 26 or March 5, 10-3pm.  This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners  & Skytrainers give me a call and we can set something up.

Etsy Shop now Open: WendyMouldsArt  Come on In!!

 Be sure to like and share my posts.
 You won't miss a single one if you Follow by Email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar on my blog)
 Have a great artful day,
Wendy

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Drawing A Seagull - Painting & Drawing Tips

NEW WORKS FROM THE STUDIO OF ART BY WENDY

Actually this really should be called "Pencil and Eraser Becoming Friends" .

Learning to draw is a daunting task but when I talk with my friends I realize it is something many want to learn.  They don't aspire to be another Leonardo de Vinci but they do want to draw and have enjoyment in what they do. That is something I can totally relate to.  That was my goal when I started.

Their comments and concerns have lead me to this lastest series of posts on drawing.  Last post, Erasers: Your Friend or Enemy? was a start in getting your materials in order and ready to draw.

 Today, let's jump in and draw this seagull
Look for a basic shape or line to start with: two circles works well here
 I will be using my Derwent 2B pencil.  It gives a nice soft line without scoring the paper.  Remember to keep your layout lines soft, they are gestures that you will refine as you go along.

To start, study the subject a bit. 

Look for shapes or lines to get started.  In this case a circle with a flat top and bottom is a good starting point.  I placed a smaller flat circle on top for the head.  The legs are started with a line.  (note the legs are not perfectly straight. Try and include those little bends in your gesture).

Big Circle and small circle, gestures to start
As you are drawing your circle study our little guy. Is the head in the middle or to the left.  Is it half the width or less of the seagull's shoulders.  Look for these kinds of relationships as you draw each shape.  

Time to Measure and Refine

When looking at your subject use your pencil to measure a small section that can be then used as a unit of measurement.  For the figure, the unit is often the size of the head.  In this case I have used the distance between the bottom of the foot to the belly.  I can see that the seagull is 3 times this distance.  I can now refine my shapes, add a bit to the belly on the right and to his back on the left.  Notice, I haven't done any erasing yet.  Leaving my old lines there gives me a frame of reference as to how much to add.  
My pencil can also be used to check the angles of things, which I did to draw the lower part of the wing. 

 
Using you pencil, measure the seagull.  In this case I used the distance from his foot to his belly as a unit of measure.  I found that he was 3 units high.  As I refined my shapes I kept this relationship in mind. 




My pencil can also be used to check the angles of things, which I did to draw the lower part of the wing. 

Drawing the legs.

No, you don't have to draw them in first but I love those knobbly knees. They looked fun to draw so I did. (This is one of those little encouragers I talked about in dealing with Drawing Despair, see more here.)  There is no rule as to where to start in refining your drawing just make sure you are happy with the over all shape before go into the detail. (Note my line gestures for my legs became the middle of the left leg and the side of the right.)

Move around the drawing refining each part.


Checking reference Lines as you go

As you move around the drawing use your pencil to check your reference points.  The right leg to the shoulder and head and the left leg.  How does the negative space beside the the pencil compare with the seagull?

The beak

Beaks on birds are always a problem.  Use gesture lines to get the shape and carefully refine them.  I have left my gestures around the beak so you can see what I did.  When I was happy I erased all the ones I didn't want.
Soften lines and clean up unwanted ones.

Clean up time

Once I have settled on my layout, I clean up the unwanted lines with my kneaded eraser.  At this time I also go around and lighten lines that are going to be white: top of his head and his shoulder and the top of the beak.
My little seagull is ready to be shaded in.  Get your drawing up to speed and we will shade him in next week.

Take the Plunge and start drawing!  If you want some help I have several ways to help:

1. Zentangle Doodle Card Classes: Thursday, Feb 16, 1:30 - 3:30pm & 6-8pm Expressions Art Gallery, Maple Ridge.  Saturday, Feb. 18, 10:30-12:30 (FULL) & 2-4pm. (1 Spot Left) Art by Wendy Studio, N. Surrey   $30 Supplies Included. We will be working with mice and owls on our Zentangle Doodle Cards  (you knew I would have animals somewhere) Contact Wendy to REGISTER

2. Buy a few of my Zentangle Doodle Cards and start  Colouring. See my collection here.   They are fabulous fun, just imagine how special your cards will be when you personalize them like that.  Those special people in your life will cherish your cards.

3. Private Drawing Lessons -  2.5 hr sessions in my studio, flexible scheduling to fit your schedule. 3 lesson package $225. Beginners to Adanced are welcome.  Adults, Teens and Younger Students. ( $35 for 1 hour sessions for younger students.) more info here

Special Note to Artists: 
February is Marketing Month for Artists, time to really work on your Business Plan. Join me for a full day of getting ready to make 2017 your Best Sales Year ever.  

All day Marketing Workshop - Let's Get Your Art Out There - Sunday, Feb 26 or March 5, 10-3pm.  This is an opportunity to work with a small group focusing on ways that work for you, to market your art.  Whether you are looking at full time or part Art Sales, there are effective, proven strategies that will get your work out the door. $70 Limited to 8 per session.  Art by Wendy Studio/Gallery, N. Surrey, BC.  REGISTER NOW  with Wendy.   Out of Towners  & Skytrainers give me a call and we can set something up.

 Be sure to like and share my posts.
 You won't miss a single one if you Follow by Email or Like my Facebook Page. Keep up with all the art events by joining my email list (see sidebar on my blog)
 Have a great artful day, Wendy