I’ve drawn the value sketch for the painting that I hope to create in watercolor. Before paint hits the paper, there are several things I am considering. What am I trying to accomplish? How realistic do I want it to be? Painting isn’t about who, what, and where.
It’s about entertainment and mood.
I’ve tried to make the graphite drawing mostly realistic, but only to set certain standards in the painting. Shapes are the most critical to me. I want the painting to look less realistic than the pencil drawing. I know there is one way to do this is to play with the shapes, perhaps make them a little more abstract with a good color scheme.
Having an area of interest is essential~Lynn Burton
The area that attracts the viewers eye to a work of art, is something called the “focal point” or center of interest. Having an area that an artist places emphasis in their work is most important to create a work of art, rather than a picture. A picture usually has areas of details throughout, but a painting should have areas that are more important that will capture the viewers first gaze.
Don’t place area of emphasis too close to the edge. It is more safe for the composition to be off to one of the sides of center – up or down. If you place the impact area in the center, it may make the painting look symmetrical or static; although, it sometimes works.
Color and placement create the path the viewers eyes will follow. Be bold when painting the impact area.
The use of bright color, color change, and value contrast are important for an artist to capture.
Check for proper use of edges, detail, and directional shapes.
Watercolor is as lively, spontaneous, and engaging as it is beguiling and unpredictable. It is medium with a determination of its own. An artist that wishes to conquer this medium must do so with earnest effort, patience, and hard work. However, those that do find their way with watercolor are better off for it.
As unpredictable as the medium is, it’s history to be accepted as a true artist’s medium in the art world, one with respect, was just as unpredictable. Until the late 1800s, watercolor was considered a medium for amateurs, or usually used by artists as studies for other mediums. Through the works of Winslow Homer (1836-1910), America began taking on a dominant role in the world of watercolor.
Homer revolutionized the watercolor medium and was the first to popularly produce it on paper with meaning. He began his career as a self-taught artist working for Harper’s Bazaar. Later, he lived an isolated life, painting near his studio in Prout’s Neck, Maine. He preferred painting outdoors as much as possible, saying, “In the studio you get composition, but you lose freshness: you miss the subtle and, to the artist, the finer characteristics of the scene itself.”
Much of Homer’s most revered watercolors were painted later in his life while in the Bahamas and Bermuda. He painted masterfully at this time with bold wet brushstrokes, and he, himself, said that this period was, “as good work as I ever did.”
I’m always fascinated by the crisp look of a well executed pen and ink drawing. I can say from experience that it takes talent and patience learning to master the many strokes, dots, vertical or horizontal hatching, continuous line, curved strokes, or a combination of any of these. However, the finished work can give a pen and ink artist a great sense of accomplishment. When you realize it, with a simple kit of supplies – a piece of paper, some ink, and a pen – artists have produced a plethora of artwork for hundreds of years.
Magazines, illustrations for books, and newspapers have often used finely rendered ink drawings. This was particularly true during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Pens are of two general types: dip pens and technical pens. Although I have a complete set of Koh-I-Nore Rapidograph pens, I often find myself falling back on my all time favorites, a regular dip pen and a smaller crow quill dip pen. With the dip style pen, you dip the tip into the ink, tap it on the inside of the bottle opening to get rid of excess ink, and draw until it needs refilling. It takes experience and more than a handful of failures to complete a drawing without blobs and splatters. Years ago, I drew the picture of giraffes and Moses. These are not my own compositions, but experimental copies. Trust me, every pen stroke, cross-hatch, and dot are mine. However, since the composition is not mine, I’ll never sell them.
Tip#1: Value: The essence of a well drawn pen and ink drawing is a carefully planned contrast of value.
Tip#2:Texture: Byplanning your stroking patterns, you can create a contrast of texture- crosshatching; pointillism (dots); hatching; continuous line; and curved strokes. By using a variety of strokes, creating texture, an artist can produce an exciting and active drawing.
Pilots and watercolorists have much in common: they’re flying on their own and nothing can help them but their thorough knowledge of their craft~ John Pike
If you are attempting to paint with watercolor, great adventures and excitement lie ahead, and, of course, great disappointments. However, if you’re willing to give it an honest attempt, it is the most rewarding of all the mediums. It is both exciting and challenging. It is exciting because watercolor has an “action” all of its own. It is challenging to see how much of this diabolical “action” we can learn to guide and control through the hard work (and fun) of finding out exactly what it is that makes watercolor tick.
An artist learns that in most media, the manipulation of the paints is known as “technique” and learned with practice, study and patience. Sadly, in the crafty medium of watercolor, they’re known as tricks. However, through study, practice, and much patience, an artist can learn the fundamentals, the mechanics, and why watercolor behaves the way it does – what it takes to control it as it moves, crawls, and fights back.
As an artist, you are something a little bit special in the eyes of the average person. You mean no harm because you are a lover of beauty with the ability to accept the new and the strange. It matters not whether you paint realistic or abstract. Remember to always keep an open mind and heart with a healthy curiosity.
The farmer I talked to about wanting to paint his house and barn thought I was “nuts.”
“Nothing ’round here much of beauty,” he said.
After seeing the paintings, Winter Kindling and Winter Farm, he said, “Showed a lotta respect for the place.”
“It deserves respect,” I replied. Remember, you are always painting on someone’s property. Let your paintings reflect your respect.
From time to time, Art Center Information prefers to refer our visitors to some selected past blog posts. Since most of our fans are artists or people that are interested in art, our passion is to progress art through awareness. In case you missed these past blog posts, we suggest you check them out. We selected three of our favorites that we feel inform and entertain. Enjoy!
Selection#1:A hard days night in Nuurnberg~This is a hilarious tale by artist Richard D. Burton talking about some problems he had getting a hotel room while in Nuurnberg, Germany. He used his art talent drawing sketchy pictures to score a room for the night, and a bath in the morning. To read the humorous “true story,” click on the sketch at the right>>>
Selection#2: Do you paint the sky first, and then paint the trees over it? Interesting read here with a couple of good tips thrown in to make your landscape more realistic. Click on the painting to the left.<<<
Selection#3: In our article – Why Draw? – we discussed how many artists will say they draw because they can’t help it. Often, throughout the day, they reach for a pencil and a sketch pad to draw that quick moment in time that needs to be recorded in pictorial form. Check it out by clicking on the picture to the right>>>
The word drawing seems to be one that most professionals and students use freely, but which no two ever seem to use in quite the same way. Drawing is a subject to be learned, practiced and understood. With drawing, whether in loose sketches or finished works, an artist learns to concentrate on the important; such as form, value and perspective.
There are many valuable books, videos, art classes and other means for a graphite artist to learn their trade. Below are just a few tips that we hope will help you. The most important thing an artist can do in any medium is consistently work at it.
Tip#1:Before attempting to do a graphite drawing that you wish to be an acceptable and completed work of art, do several studies that may or may not wind up being in the finished work.
For the depiction of “Father Time”, Mr. Burton did more than thirty different sketches and studies for the completion of his 18″X24″ graphite drawing, Grinding Gears of Time.
Tip#2 : When drawing a figure, it is important to relieve that “static” feeling. Give them a sense of “life” by putting weight on one leg, twist the torso, tip and turn the head, or allow the figure to lean upon or be supported by something or someone. Unless the composition requires it, do not have the face and eyes looking straight.
Tip#3: An artist that truly enjoys drawing should never avoid something which looks difficult or seek to solve a drawing problem by lowering their standards by doing it with acceptable and conventional methods.
Tip#4: When you are drawing or painting hands into your picture, it is important to remember that hands help define a figure’s character almost more than anything else. They can speak pages about a person’s life and age, almost as much as the face. Be sure to always leave a little flesh around the fingernails.
Portrayal of hands can sometimes make or break a piece of artwork. Practice, practice, practice!
Tip#5: For an artist to concentrate on drawing alone, may be less than wise, because some of the other skills may tend to atrophy. Many use graphite drawings to plan their future paintings. Some use loose sketches, others do complete and detailed drawings. Below is a graphite study for one of Mr. Burton’s future watercolor.
An artist must have an idea of what they wish to portray. Wouldn’t it be great if from some source of magic you were able to depict exactly what you wanted, perfect right down to the last touch to the substrate of your pencil, pastel, charcoal, or paint filled brush? However, even if magic somehow did happen, what would you paint or draw?
You are the magic. Whatever you do, it will be original. This is true if all you are thinking of is your next work of art, or if your total concentration is on an art career; but you must first determine how bad you want it. This will never be known until you know what it is exactly that you desire.
Tip: Have a clear and precise definition of what you want.
As artists, we trend toward art that has a certain “look” that we like. This is reasonable, but do not find yourself so “in love” with other artists that you do not seek out yourself. Develop your preferences and rely upon your own unique experiences. This is your only path to originality.
Tip: Desire is the engine that moves you to your ultimate goal.
When you think about it, it’s amazing that someone sat around thinking up the word desire. Who would dare have such an ego that they would try to define with a word that which is undefinable. Desire is not just an emotion or passion. Emotion and passion are flesh based and fleeting. Desire outlives the flesh; just ask Van Gogh.
However, I think we all have an inkling of what desire is, or, at least what it helps us do. It’s that something that helps us determine that if we want something bad enough we will manage the strength to go to any lengths to get it.
Tip: How bad do you want it?
If you have determined what it is that you want, whether to paint a masterpiece or have a successful art career, as long as you are always asking yourself, “how bad do I want it,” then you will remain motivated toward your ultimate goal. Never forget, you are the magic. Everything you do is original.
When you toss a coin, it will not always land on heads. Not all paintings will be a masterpiece~Lynn Burton
Tip: Have fun with your art.
Of all the thrill of painting, experimenting with your art and talent can create moments of complete recreation that seems more like play than work. Is art work? Of course, it is; but no one said you can’t have fun while you work. Be creative and search for new ways to depict reality or, if you wish, surreal fact and fantasy as you fool around with your paint, canvas, and brush. Be free! Get the wind beneath your wings and soar the universe of colors and shapes.
Tip: Be curious with your art, always be willing to try something new.
New discoveries can lead an artist into a whole new fascinating, colorful world. Go wherever an idea will take you, and dare that idea to take you to places you’ve never been before.
Tip: Be prepared to accept the fact that nine out of ten ideas fail.
Do not fall into the trap of thinking every one of your experiments count. If you do, you’re no longer having fun with your art. Remember, if one idea out of ten works, it is worth all the dismay you felt about the others.
Tip: Learn from your experiments.
Make it a practice to incorporate your original discoveries into your artwork. If you found a new way to depict something that imitates nature while “fooling around” with your art, use that discovery.
Tip: Make experimenting with your art a lifelong habit.
If you study some of the early works of the masters, you will see they are quite different from their later works. In many of them, you can see a great transition as they progressed through their art life. Much of this was done because they habitually experimented with new ideas.
We are glad to see Mr. Burton’s return to Art Center Information after a few weeks hiatus. After he posted the previous blog discussing his work on his preliminary graphite sketch, he has finally finished the composition (at left).
He has been on the road doing art promotional work for other artists, and now we are happy to have him back and in the mood to paint. We caught up with him, and he agreed to a few questions about the future painting.
Interviewer: In the last blog post on Art Center Information’s sight, you discussed your thoughts about your next watercolor painting. Reading it, I almost felt you were more than a little anguished about it, feeling that color composition was going to make or break the painting.
Richard: It will. This is a busy scene, and it has to be well planned from a color composition standpoint. To make it work properly, I will need to dramatize the scene with dazzling sunlight and carefully placed darks.
Interviewer: You referenced that the idea for the painting was while you were on vacation in Florida. You took pictures, but did you do any paint or drawing sketches while you were there?
Richard: No. At the time, I’d just recently retired from forty years of a sales management business career, and I didn’t come up with the idea for the Art Center Information business until I took the vacation. The composition for this picture came from my head. The problem with this is that I had to create and work on the perspective of the drawing, which has two different vanishing points…very close, but definitely different because of the width of the planter division and the lanes where the booths are placed. I had to figure this one out mathematically. Had I sketched on sight, I could have done so based on what I was seeing. I now carry my watercolor sketching case practically everywhere I go. You can’t say enough about plein-air sketching.
Interviewer: You have painted many watercolor pictures. Did you begin each with such trepidation?
Richard: Yes, and the reason for this is because watercolor, unlike other mediums, is very unforgiving. This is why I feel a good watercolor should be more valuable than any other mediums. Although, I’ve been painting in acrylics, I’m glad to get back to the challenge of watercolor.
Interviewer: When you mentioned dramatizing dazzling sunlight, have you planned your color scheme?
Richard: What can I say? I want to use transparent washes. Of course, the composition as it is now sketched suggests life and activity, which the painting muat show by emphasizing the people with color. I will have to exaggerate contrast between light and shade, beginning with the darks. I can’t forget reflected light that surely would exist with such brilliance. Again, this is in my mind’s eye. I have to get out and try to capture what I see existing in nature. I can imagine it, but it is better if I can find it.
Interviewer: You mentioned you might do a color sketch for the painting using the abstract technique. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Richard: I want to capture a certain looseness in the painting. This is the reason I’m thinking of a color abstract technique. I intend to make several different color sketches using different techniques. It’s very important that I get the first wash right. Otherwise, I’m sure it will be one of those tear up and throw away situations. The important thing is that the color fuses well with other colors. My great concentration will be that when the layer is glazed on a wash that the result is a clean transparent overlay. In this case, tonal value and color density becomes critical. Much of the abstraction, as far as color is concerned, is in the background, featuring trees with different colors. I can imagine mixtures creating various tones of greens, yellows, sienna, and blues. Done properly, it could blow me off my stool. We’ll see…lots to think about.
Interviewer: Thank you for taking the time with us, and we wish you the best on your next painting.
Copyright For Artists: Quick And Easy Copyright Protection
Copyright For Artists Was Written By An Attorney And Jeweler. It Is Over 30 Pages Long. It Contains Specific Illustrations, Graphs, Links, Resources And Information For Artists About How To Protect Their Arts And Crafts.