Sunday, October 17, 2021

"Red on Red" (watercolor on paper, 9" x 12")


"Red on Red" (watercolor, 9" x 12")

I decided to blog about my online Zoom classes with the Art League School. This is what we did in the fourth week of the fall term, 2021 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class. This week's lesson was the color Red. The first order of the day was to talk about our three reds (cadmium red, permanent rose, and permanent alizarin crimson) in term of their temperature, value and intensity. I also discussed the importance of color lightfastness and asked you to avoid fugitive colors, such as rose madder genuine, alizarin crimson, opera rose, etc. 

Then we mixed oranges and purples from our reds, yellows and blues. I explained why I chose certain colors (think the closeness to each other on the color wheel to achieve brighter versions of the secondary colors). The color-mixing ability comes from experience, but if you understand a bit of "color theory", it's much easier and less "let's hope for the best" than otherwise!

Then we moved on to the business of drawing a vase, first cylindrical glass, then a pitcher with a handle and spout. Many students get stumped on this, so I tried to help you how to draw a symmetrical form utilizing the central axis line and turning the paper upside down to turn off the analytical side of our brain. Here is a page from Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing, a drawing manual that will help you overcome your fear of drawing. It's the best there is and I have done many the exercises more than once!

Finally, we got to the painting. First we drew the shapes with watercolor pencils (red for the red shapes and green for the green stems and leaves), making sure that they don't float in the middle of the paper with tiny positive shapes and a huge negative space. And please overlap shapes!

Then we painted the negative space with cadmium red on dry paper. Use enough paint and lots of water so that paints don't dry on you. Near the right bottom of the paper, introduce a bit of cadmium yellow pale; when you get to the left top of the paper, add some alizarin crimson. Use a large round brush; for tiny "trapped shapes", use a smaller brush. Painting around the positive shapes is called negative painting, which is not the easiest thing in the world. Do the best you can and don't worry about perfection.

If your first wash is too anemic, do another layer on dry paper. Mine looked fine, so I moved onto painting shapes, after firming up the contour lines of the shapes and also indicating the highlight shapes on the vase, apple, peppers and tomatoes with watercolor pencils.

Starting with the vase, we painted the shapes with the appropriate reds (think temperature and value). I explained the form shadow, cast shadow and reflected light. We did the second layer on the vase, apple, pepper, and tomato, and also painted cast shadows (after drawing them first with a purple pencil).

Creating a form (making a shape appear three-dimensional) by using colors (with the same hue but of different temperatures and values, then glazing with the shadow colors for the form shadow, and even softening edges) is hard! I will go over this next week again.

We didn't get very far, so decided to stop here and finish the painting next week. Please develop the painting up to this point.

"Red on Red" in progress

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