Saturday, August 13, 2011

Beginning Critique and Through the Water class results

Clear Water Stones, 5" x 7", gouache on Arches #300 c/p

It was so good to get back to class again!

We began with a  critique, looking at 3 or 4 paintings from each student to determine the direction and improvements each one wants to make, not only in individual paintings but on the whole. I really have a talented and enthusiastic group of students.

Following that, I gave a short lecture on how to paint rocks underwater, with a demonstration that was done mostly using PanPastels. Above is a painting I prepared to show how effectively you can paint this subject using gouache, and below is an example of how you can approach this subject in pastel.

High and Dry, 9"x 12", pastel on Pastelmat
To paint underwater rocks I suggest you begin with a photograph that inspires you. Find a photo that shows large and small, wet and dry rocks, has shadows caused by interesting light, and features some reflections on the water to indicate its movement.

Choose a medium tone that will allow you to build both light and dark areas. Do a good sketch showing the placement of the rocks, either in charcoal or pastel. It’s not necessary to draw every single stone, but locate the major players, and then loosely indicate the size and general placement of scattered stones in non-essential regions.

Don’t be afraid to go dark in the early stages. Using saturated colors of the proper value will also work to your advantage when you mute the underwater rocks with further layers of pastel.

To create the impression of water over rocks is really a fairly simple process. Select a color that will portray the water, whether it’s a blue-gray or green-tea color, and lightly glaze or feather over the color in place. Don’t cover the lights and darks beneath, and don’t obscure all the color with a thick layer.

Then add highlights in the reflections, bubbles, floating objects, and ripple lines in the water. A reflection obscures what is beneath, so paint from bottom to top, but leave room for paler areas on top. To paint a ripple, think of two mirrors pointed in different directions, catching the color of the object they’re pointed at. Use sharp edges to create the impression of liquidity. To paint a floating bubble, draw an ellipse on the water in a color darker than the surface, then ring it with light and carefully draw in the light colored dome. Pay attention to the direction of the light and shadows, and where you see highlights. 

Keep going, gang!