Oct 31, 2014

Tutorial - Background Color Around A Subject

Laying in a background color around a subject can be tricky, and it can be very frustrating, especially after taking the careful time to draw out all of your details. It can be approached loosely, or with a tight hand. I will demonstrate both.

Keep in mind, these are my methods, and by no means the ONLY way to go about it. Watercolor painting is a very personal in application. Trial and error are the best ways to learn the medium. The worst thing you can do for your painting is get furious and give up. Give yourself grace and have patience.

Okay, here we go.

Set Up

Place your water, paper towel, and paints on the side you write with, keeping your painting in the middle. Grouping your supplies will help you grab what you need more efficiently.

Choose your brushes. I usually have three different sizes on hand. They are #2, #5, and a #12 (or around that). These are not my BEST kept brushes, and are typically used for events such as this.

Prepare enough paint to fill the space you're going to cover. Choose a transparent color, like my Sap Green here. It will allow light go travel through down to the white of the paper and back. Trust me. I have also chosen a color that will work well with the other colors I'm going to lay down, such as blues, yellows, and reds.

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Painting Around the Subject
The Tight Hand Approach

Choose the smallest of your brushes to start, but keep that medium size close by. You want it to be small enough to get into the tight spots, but large enough to hold a decent amount of paint/water mix. You can see I have placed it close to the face (most important to me) to ensure I'll be able to get in around the nose and lips with the point of the brush. 

Scary part, start laying in the color. Charge (meaning fill the brush) with your color making sure it's full. Lay down next to the subject, but NOT along your line. Give yourself wiggle room. Make a little 'puddle' of paint, but don't over extend it. The idea is to keep plenty of wet paint sitting there, hence the 'puddle'.

Now pull from the puddle to your line with the color. Slow down here...it should all be wet enough to give you at least a moment to do this. It will take practice to find your sweet speed spot. Remember, give yourself grace. 

To prevent unwanted lines, RIGHT after you do some of the face move to the other side of your puddle with a rinsed brush. Fade it out, this way, if it dries, you'll be able to paint and fade over it giving the illusion that you painted it all at once. ;) NOTICE I didn't do the entire face all the way down. 

Work in little puddles/spots and work your way down and around, using the same method over and over again.

Again, fading out with a rinsed brush and clean water, getting rid of any unwanted crisp edges.

With this method I can confidently move away from my subject and begin to venture out. You may need to switch to your medium sized brush to have enough paint and water.

I will begin to add droplets of clean water in to help give my background texture, depth, and this will give the eye something to look at other than what I may have missed. Naturally, in my opinion, this is the most beautiful characteristic of watercolor, they're called blooms.

You can continue the entire painting with this approach. 

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Painting Around the Subject
The Loose Approach

Grab your big brush and charge it up. Lay down a good size puddle, but small enough that you still have a puddle (remember, don't over extend your paint). Also, don't go to your lines, you need the space between.

Rinse out your brush and return to the edge of your puddle, pulling the paint towards and OVER your line art. You are fading out the color on top of your subject. 

Like with the tight approach, take your rinsed brush and fade out the back end of the puddle. Repeat.

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Touching Up

In the tiniest of spots, take your smallest brush and pull the wet paint in. If it's dry charge your brush, but first dab it on your paper towel so that it won't over flow or bubble in the tight space you're painting. Try to match the intensity of the color.

If there are crisp edges you don't want...

...go back in with a rinsed brush and clean water, gently scrub and fade them out.

There are tiny little white spots left around the forehead and nose...see them?

Very lightly, and very gently, with your small brush, pull the paint left in the crisp edge onto the white. Go in, lightly do this, and get out. Too much scrubbing too aggressively will leave inconsistent marks you don't want.

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Fading Color on top of Faded Color

Just to show I know what I'm talking about, once your first faded section is dry, go in to a new section and start again with a puddle.

Keep making puddles and scooting/painting them over the dry faded area. Once you've overlapped start to fade out your puddle with a rinsed brush. Again, might take some practice, so use light water droplets if you need to. ;)

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Finishing It Up

Good Luck!
And feel free to ask me any questions or if there is something you need a tutorial in I'd be happy to help out if I can. 

Why Halloween Doesn't Matter Anymore

Happy Halloween! 

It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think. 

The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:

The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal,  and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.

She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.


In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.

2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor

2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.

When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.

Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM. 

I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:

This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness. 

So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about. 

Oct 24, 2014

Life Inspired

"Leaf Sprite" Tin

Lindsey Stirling strings, autumn leaves, pattern, floral, clean lines, crisp mornings, Mucha, sunlight, comfy sweaters, and the list can go on and on. Many things inspire me, constantly. It wasn't until this week I stopped to actually LOOK at what inspires me, and WHAT it does to me.

I am changed by it, and I alter myself to fit whatever "it" is. If an artist inspires me, my work takes on some of their style and technique. The same goes for clothes and fashion. Or quite possibly the way I arrange my house. How about changing myself because of how someone lives, and being inspired by their beautiful life? All based on what I see, of course, not knowing the day to day. Which leads to how my life is seen on social media and in crowds of other artists.

I'm impressed by how impressionable I am, and this week it made me wonder - "Am I missing who I am?"

"Believe in Yourself" Original Art Journal

I believe it is healthy to be inspired by others. Jesus asked us to follow Him, do as He did. It isn't mentioned to be inspired, but He inspires me to be loving, caring, and full of grace. Yet on the other hand, there's a line that can be crossed into changing just to be accepted, to feel worthy, or to gain superficially.

I asked a fundamental question in church one Sunday about six months ago...Who Am I? I prayed to be shown who God says I am. It's a very large struggle of mine - for many of us - and it's been present for as long as I can remember.

My Quest? To feel free to be who I was designed to be. The other night I stumbled upon Kelly Rae Robert's website. An artist I have always been drawn to and admire, yet just now actually following her.  She openly shares her self discovery, and while reading her website it clicked. Her story, along with her business, creative soul, being a first time mom, and insecurities that are faced made me realize I'm OK.

"Dance to Your Own Beat" Original Art Journal

I felt this release to BE ME. You could actually see the JOY in her. The PEACE within herself. I have been seeking peace my whole life, especially since my daughter was born. It could be the new mommy stress and sleeplessness, but I believe it's old stuff heightened.

I have this tribal, gentle, feisty, fiery self inside waiting to take off and FLY.

Who am I? Who do you say I am?
I am free to be who you created me to be. I am free to express my light with no fear of what this world will say.
I was given an imagination to share. To lift peoples hearts, to bring them peace and love. To take them into their dreams and fantastical places.
I am a person and soul very much loved. I am loved by SO MANY people! I am so filled with love I even have some left over to give. I am more full, more accepted, then I ever realized.
I am a child of light, of His light. A light of love. I am His child filled with the grace, mercy, power, love, strength, courage, and forgiving spirit that He has. I am a child of light called to share my light. I am NOT darkness, I am NOT pain, I am NOT disgusting, dirty, unforgivable, or hopeless.
Another thought Kelly brought to my heart through her writing, was her understanding of who she is. A seeker of Joy. She lives for joy through and through. I am meditating on this. If there was one word to describe me - humm...I'm not sure yet. I'm still figuring this out, but it gives me one thing..focus for my spirit, soul, art, and not just for me, but for my daughter Norah (light), and my husband Brian (strength).

My name, Sara, means princess. I want to be a princess of dreams and light.