Mar 25, 2010

Poppy Tutorial - First Paint

 To view the first steps visit the post H E R E

Before I get into how I paint, let me tell you what I use.  I have for some time really enjoyed Windsor Newton watercolors.  I use mainly Cotman, but have several Artists' Water Colors.  I also use Grumbacher every now and then, but not often.  I prefer tubed paint, I feel like I have more control this way.

The colors you'll find in every painting of mine are:
Dioxazine Violet (Artists' Water Color by Winsor Newton)
Vandyke Brown
Alizarian Crimson Hue
Cobalt Blue
Rose Doré (Artists' Water Color by Winsor Newton)
Yellow Ochre
Prussian Blue
Hooker's Green Dark

     Primarily there are two brushes that I use, although I have many.  This painting isn't larger than 8x10, so in my world there isn't any need for much bigger brushes except maybe background.  But that's a different painting.  For now, it's these two.

    Not 100% sure of the size for the blue one, but I believe it's a 2 or 3 round by Winsor Newton, and the red one is a 3/0 round by Princeton.  I suggest having a wide range of sizes, you never know what you'll need.  The largest I own is a 12 round.  I choose round because I find it easier to blend and the brush holds more my opinion.

    Which leads me to my final thought before we go into painting.  It's more of a disclaimer.  This is my way of painting.  I am self taught in watercolors and I highly encourage learning all techniques possible before deciding what works best for you.  As a teacher myself, it's important to try everything, especially in watercolor.  It has so many possibilities, and you probably won't learn them all by one teacher.

    The very first thing I do is establish a background with color.  With my number 3 watercolor brush I choose muted colors that I know are safe, meaning if I choose to go with a different color than what is down, I should still be okay.  Remember, once color is down, you can never fully remove it.  Also choosing a muted color keeps the background in the back.  Colors fade as the go back towards the horizon line because of our atmosphere. 

    I use a lot of water, a constant back and forth from the water, to the paint, to the water, to the paper, and repeated.  Always start with really watered down color, you can always add paint, but rarely subtract it.

    You don't need to have complete control of the medium here, the more loose you are the better!

    I have found keeping all of my paints, brushes, water, and paper towel on the side I write with to be very helpful!  Remember, water, water, water! 

    When you get to those small areas, like around the hair here, while the paint is still very wet I switch to my 3/0 brush and pull the paint already on the paper into my tiny areas.  If there isn't enough color I light dip the brush into the paint and add a wee bit more.

    Tip:  If you have too much water in a small area, dry your brush and return to the wet area.  Your brush will soak up any excess paint you don't want.  This is also very helpful in blending.  Remember, your brush is meant to hold water like a sponge.

    The next area I focus on is the skin, starting with the face.  I believe my work displays a spirit or soul, and the spirit of that painting is the subject to which the piece is about.  So I want to get that worked on just as much as my background.

    After I decide where my light source is coming from I begin using my 3/0 brush.  I use Rose Doré for the base of all my skin tones no matter what color they are in the end.  The reason is because red works in highlights and in shadows, it's a great undertone in my opinion.

    With water mixed in with my paint I begin using the Rose Doré to layout where my shadows are.  I personally enjoy "maps" when I paint, because I rarely do color studies.

    Tip: Apply the paint where it would be darkest.  Look at eye closest to us, above the cheek, that's where I laid down my red.  Take your brush to the water, rinse it, lightly dab onto the paper towel, go back to the painting where you laid your red, and pull it.  Dry your brush and go back and pull again.  Now you're blending!

    Take your time, stay loose, and don't freak out if water gets where you don't want it.  If you don't want water somewhere, or are worried about that, look into using masking fluid.  I found out a while back I prefer not to use it, but that's my preference.  I know many artists who use it and their work is gorgeous!

    Find a rhythm to how you paint, you're working with an element of the earth, not a machine.  Always keep that in mind as you paint.  The best way I learned how to paint was first allowing the watercolor to do what it wanted, then figured out how I can control what it already naturally wants to do.  If you go into trying to control the medium, it will most likely make you leave your painting or worse yet, throw it away and never return to using watercolors.

    Next step: getting rid of the white remaining!


    Meredith said...

    That looks like one of my brushes, all taped up because the paint came off!

    Sab said...

    cool !^_^

    Dear Fireflies said...

    This is such a useful and interesting post, Sara! I've always been such a coward with watercolor, but you make it look so easy... Thank you for sharing, even the unfinished piece looks wonderful! (^_^)

    Sara said...

    This is so helpful. I've been working on some fairy drawings of my own, but have been struggling with how to get from the rough sketch to the painting. This helps me understand much better (for some reason I didn't think a pencil drawing could show up under watercolor paper, even with a light box. I'll have to get one!) I do really love the spirit and soul you are able to capture in your subjects. One question I have always wondered regarding colors, is do you stick to certain colors for the paintings you intend to have published in a children's book? Or can the printing process nowadays pretty much handle all colors? Thank you for the tools and inspiration!

    OrangeJar said...

    i love this tutorial, so helpful and your work is gorgeous. i'm not confident in watercolor, your tips really help.

    do you blur the pencil lines out or just keep it under the colors? looking forward to reading about how you finalized it and seeing the final artwork!

    Ben Hatke said...

    Beautiful work and a very helpful tutorial. Thanks! Also, you've done a great job with the line work on the hair in this picture!.

    Fadas de Luz said...

    Amei o tutorial. Aprendi bastante.