Sunday, June 12, 2022

"Donut Fest" (watercolor on paper; 9" x 12")


"Donut Fest"

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

Yesterday we painted "Donut Fest", inspired by Wayne Thiebaud (1920-2021), who created many delicious-looking pastry paintings. This is a hard-edged, paint-by-the-numbers-without-numbers project, just like what we did in the first week with "Santa Ana Mountain Wildflowers".

What we did was paint a food still life, an important sub-genre within the still life genre. I heartily recommend you should draw and paint many still lifes. Set up whatever objects that interest you and get into the habit of drawing from life. If you have time, paint them too!

We drew the design with a pencil together, including three rectangles to fit in the donuts. We tend to run out of space as we fill in the paper with still life objects, so if you locate the top and bottom and draw in small rectangles like this, you will never have that problem again. Draw as many construction lines as you need; if you use light pressure, you should be able to erase the graphite lines. Use straight lines instead of curves and circles. The finished drawings will look more dynamic and truer to life.

Next we masked the sprinkles in the pink and chocolate donuts with masking fluid. First, wet the rigger brush, lather it in soap, then dip it into the frisket. Use a moderate amount of frisket; if used in excessive amount, the thing will dry very slowly and you will get into all kinds of trouble. It dries quickly if used properly. When finished with the frisket, always rinse it with soap and water immediately. If you leave the brush until the end of the painting session, you have ruined it forever!

Then we started painting with the cake part of all three donuts, from light to mid-tone to darks as always. For the light, I used Winsor lemon; for the mid-tones, the mixture of quinacridone gold and cadmium red; and for the darks, the purple mixture of French ultramarine and alizarin crimson. Get into the habit of developing the painting all over, instead of finishing one section at a time. Even in a landscape, in which we tend to paint from the top to bottom (distant to close-up), block in the entire painting first if possible, then develop each area. Everything is relative (values, chroma, temperature, etc.), so this way you don't have bad surprises.

Next we painted the icings of the three donuts. For the pink donut; I used permanent rose; for the white donut, after painting the shadows (cobalt blue and permanent rose), I used cadmium red (red stripe) and cobalt blue (blue stripe); for the chocolate donut, I used first pale cobalt blue for the blue sheens, let them dry, then painted the dark chocolate color with the mixture of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson.

The biggest problem of the entire project was surprisingly the dark wash for the chocolate donut. Most of the class painted this in light to mid-tone. Use more paints! If the wash turns out light, glaze! If one glaze is not enough, glaze again!

When everything looked good, we removed the masking fluid carefully with a clean finger. Then we painted the sprinkles in various colors, making sure a few sprinkles are left untouched. In my case, I used white gouache to create more white sprinkles, because everybody wants more sugar!

Finally, we painted the soft-edge cast shadows in cobalt blue on dry paper. Use enough water so that you have open time to finish the job. Once you have brushed in the cobalt blue, with the clean damp brush go around the edges of the wash to soften them. When satisfied, quickly drop in the dark mixture of ultramarine blue and crimson inside the bulls eye of each donut and around the donuts where they meet the table or whatever. I've noticed that quite a few forgot this last step; if so, paint the dark shadows within the cast shadows on dry paper.

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