Sunday, March 6, 2022

"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl" (watercolor on paper; 11" x 10")


"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl"

The following is the description of what we did in the sixth week of the winter term, 2022 for my "Watercolor from Start to Finish" class (my online Zoom class with the Art League School in Alexandria, VA).

Yesterday I talked a lot to inspire you into doing more art and especially more drawing everyday. Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing is an invaluable drawing resource any aspiring artist should have in her or his bookshelf and do exercises from daily. The fountain pen with waterproof ink (instead of Micron pens) I use when I am traveling or at home is the Platinum Carbon Ink Desk Fountain Pen. It has an extra fine line; the one I have been using for several years extensively shows no wear; I have two (one with black ink and the other, brown).

The brush pen I showed is the Pentel Arts Pocket Brush Pen. There are many similar brush pens in the market and this one is IT. It has a steep learning curve and not everyone's cup of tea. At the end of the day, all you need for drawing practice is a sketchbook and a pencil!

I am not sharing any links for watercolor sketchbooks. There are too many out there to bother and it's a personal choice. You gotta go through several until you find your favorite. And please finish all your sketchbooks so that you can brag about it (very few people do)!

I also talked about drawing in perspective with the aid of a ruler, which is not necessary but I bet opened your eyes. Some of your drawings were definitely wonky. Although I said a wonky drawing is preferable to a sleek, traced drawing, it doesn't mean you have to live with wonky drawings for the rest of your life. Nobody is born with the gift to draw beautifully. Even the great masters practiced incessantly.

After the light pencil drawing was done (erase the construction lines if you have any), we did the line work over with a dip pen and black India ink. This is when I "redraw" where I see drawing errors. Yes, you can draw without the prior pencil drawing. It's a nerve-wrecking, yet exhilarating experience. You have no idea how risky and dangerous an artist's daily life is! You don't have to be a snowboarder. Lol.

You can apply a slight pressure where you want an emphasis (this is called a varied light weight in art lingo). Be careful with this, otherwise you end up with a sprung pen (permanently ruined!). India ink also has a steep learning curve. Just because you felt awkward using the dip pen and ink first time, don't give upon them. Practice!

In the pen and wash technique, the pen line does at least 60% of the work, so the wash (watercolor part) goes fast with minimum fuss. That's why this technique is so popular among travel-journal artists. It has a bit of illustration feel and perhaps that's why so many illustrators use it (or is it the other way around)?

I am not going to tell you what colors I used for that reason. Keep colors of the mandarin oranges bright and glowing (don't forget the alizarin crimson core shadows though)! This glowing illusion comes from leaving the highlights pure white by painting around! (You can do that with the leaves or silver bowl or anything shiny you feel like painting). The darks were the usual mixture of ultramarine blue and crimson. For the silver bowl, I used cobalt blue as the base color and added different paints as fit.

Try to paint the shadow (luminous and beautiful purple, and not dirty-looking; remember overmixing results in dirty colors and it's the curse to the watercolorist) when the base of the bowl is still wet. Your painting should have a flowing look, not a disjointed and disharmonious one. That's why I often start painting the object B right next when the object A is still wet so that watercolor will bleed (yes, definitely nerve-wrecking).

Below is the image of the demo. In the demo, I didn't do any glazing because I ran out of time. It doesn't mean you shouldn't either. When the painting is "finished", assess the situation and do some glazing if deemed necessary. Remember that too many beginners and no-longer-beginners announce their paintings finished too soon


"Mandarin Oranges in Silver Bowl Class Demo"


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