Light & Shadows

In art, the journey outshines the destination.
In art, mistakes are golden.
Painters’ Keys

I am presently following a class with Uma Kelkar and boy is it hard… and so gratifying at the same time. We are looking at how light bounces off objects and how it reflects, on shadows, cast shadows, etc. Here are two preliminary sketches that I did. I used Payne’s Grey on Strathmore paper.

Greyscale Study

For a strong composition, you want the values to be in quite different amounts, not similar.
Try this rule to start: two-thirds, one-third, and a little bit.

Marion Boddy-Evans

This is a quick way to see if a painting will pull it off, without having to spend time on a painting that lacks contrast or composition or something else…

In a sketchbook, I created a thumbnail about 2″ x 2″. I quickly sketched the shapes (not the textures) and then created a low, mid and high-value tone painting, with only one colour. In this instance, I used Payne’s Grey as it is capable of very dark values and very light values. It is also quite staining. I painted over the entire area with the lightest of values, reserving the whites, and then painted over with the mid and darker values. I can now see where some darks should be darker and where lights are necessary. The second door on the left-hand side should have a darker value but everything else seems about right. So next step is to draw it on full-size watercolour paper and then paint it.

By the way, I am totally loving my retirement! When I wake up in the mornings, I still cannot believe it! After having worked all of my life on one job and another for over 50 years, mostly full-time, some part-time, some jobs that I totally hated and some that I loved, to now have the luxury of time, I am grateful!!! And the best job that I ever had was teaching for 27 years in the public sector and the best employer was Cégep John Abbott College for 21 years!

Greyscale Values

Paper: Moleskine Sketchbook #25
Colour: W&N Payne’s Grey
Ink: Noodler’s Lexington Grey
Fountain Pen: Pilot Penmanship, Clear, EF Nib, Japan (8$) bought at http://www.JetPens.com

Values & Saturation Levels

“The harder I work the luckier I get.” 
Samuel Goldwyn from the Painter’s Keys

This looks like a really easy experiment, but in reality, it was difficult. But oh so bloody interesting to do!!! For this, I wanted to check out the saturation capacity of the paper, in this case, Fabriano Artistico Cold Press and test out different values of the same colour with different increments of value. I used Prussian Blue and Carbazole Violet.

To create this experiment I created a 10% wash over the entire area and let it dry completely. Leaving a strip of the previous layer and darkening the rest till I had 10 patches with white on one end and black on the other. The real difficulty was making uniform value jumps… hah! That was the killer. Result? The last value jump of Prussian Blue is oh so beautiful! It is almost like velvet to the touch while the Carbazole Violet is shiny and black. Different results, different intensities, different colours.

Paper: Fabriano Artistico CP 140 lbs
Colours: Prussian Blue & Carbazole Violet

Gradients & Saturation Levels

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”
— Pablo Picasso

So today is another fun exercise. Playing with saturation levels results in beautiful gradients. The idea here is to start with your paper tilted to at least 30 degrees so that the “bead” of water can run downwards. Secondly, prepare your colour so that you have enough to cover the paper and by saturating it to the correct level (meaning that the watercolour should not be wishy-washy but swirl when putting your brush in it). Pressing firmly on the mop, the first horizontal stroke is with clear water, make sure that you have a bead before continuing. Next stroke with a higher saturation level, until, in the end, you reach 100% saturation (meaning no water). I used a brush Mop #4 for this exercise. After the first stroke of water, do not add any more water to the mix. Midway you will dip directly into your colours to get the saturation level higher.

My favourite is the mix of Ultramarine with Burnt Sienna and I don’t know if you can see it, but at the bottom of the gradient, the texture almost looks like wood or wool. So interesting. My second favourite is the middle one. So which one do you think would be best for a stormy sky? Which one would be best for an early morning sunrise? Let me know what you think…

Now the trick to all of this is being able to apply this technique in an actual painting. Hah! Peut-être qu’il y en a entre vous qui comprennent ce que je veux dire…

Paper: Etchr Sketchbook, size A4, 11.4 x 8.3 in [29 x 21 cm]
Colours Left: DS Ultramarine Blue + W&N Burnt Sienna
Colours Centre: DS Ultramarine Blue + W&N Burnt Umber
Colour Right: DS Cobalt Blue + W&N Burnt Umber
Brush mop: da Vinci, casaneo #4