Saturday, October 16, 2010

Intro to Watercolor - Week 2

(I taught this intro to watercolor class twice through Minneapolis Community Education at Lake Harriet school on Vincent Ave. But I never finished making blog posts about all our activities... So there's just the first two weeks here on my blog)

This week: Hue/Color Mixing - Texture - Masks/Frisket - Matisse Cut outs forms - Birch Trees

Tonight the first thing we did was we masked off an area with liquid mask/frisket in the shape of a Matisse cut out sea plant. Before dipping our brush in the frisket we rubbed the bristles with a little dab of liquid soap. We also dabbed on frisket with the end of the brush to make dots. (Then we let the liquid mask dry for about ten minutes while we started the next project – color mixing). After the liquid mask was dry, we painted a wash over it, (we added texture to that wash with Qtips - to remove a bit of paint, and toothpicks, to create a scratch like grass or just abstract texture). We let the watercolor wash completely dry, then we peeled the mask away with a ball of squished up masking tape (or a rubber cement pickup eraser) to reveal the white of the paper.

Then we did some color mixing to get comfortable with the idea of "hue" (Hue is pure color from the tube) and color temperature. For example we made orange with lemon yellow and cadmium red, then we made orange with lemon yellow and alizarin crimson - and so on, making colors with our suggested paints. For color temperature, we can say that lemon yellow is cooler than cadmium yellow. We actually made a grid on our paper, wrote the name of the color combination at the top, then made a mixture of that color. We worked on dry paper. See below for a list of the color combinations we used. We also discussed how "sap green" may be phthalo green yellow-shade... This is a great exercise you can start to see how to make purple, how to make a rich black. How cool yellow and warm yellow change your mixtures/ how cool tones can muddy warm tones. Cadmium yellow (warm yellow) mixed with Ultramarine blue (cool blue) make an earthy/muddy green.

Colors we mixed:

Make a grid on paper and in each square, mix these colors. Write the color combination at the top.

Lemon Yellow + Cadmium Red
Lem Ylw + Alizarin Crimson
Cadmium Ylw + Cadmium Red
Cad Ylw + Cad Red
Lem Ylw + Ultramarine Blue
Cad Ylw + U Blue
Lem Ylw + Phthalocyanine Green
Cad Ylw + Phthalo Green
Phthalo Green + Ultramarine Blue
Ultramarine Blue + Cad Red
U. Blue + Aliz Crimson
Dynamic Duo Neutral:
U Blue + Burnt Sienna
More Interesting Black:
Aliz Crimson + Phthalo Green

There was some discussion about watercolor in Western art history, feminism, the more "elevated" role of oil painting, frescoes, and tempera. Watercolor was a popular pursuit for educated American and European ladies with the advent of cake watercolors sets in the mid-1800s. Watercolor was a way for "serious" oil painters to make quick studies and sketches, prior to working on more expensive canvas support. Winslow Homer embraced watercolor, made some nice big "serious" ones, and with his being already famous for his innovative work as an illustrator for Harper's Weekly and he had exhibited some oils in Paris, so he asked an unusually high amount $100 for his early watercolors, (according to my research at the National Museum of Art website) and that was a lot of money in the late 1800s. He was using his name recognition to brand or market his watercolors as high art. Today, watercolors can be considered very important artworks and are seen in contemporary museum settings.

We next used masking tape to make birch trees in snow. Keeping the birch trees masked off, we applied a sky wash with texture for the background (using sponge and paper towel to lift off some of the sky wash) right over the tape. We left the bottom third of our work white for the snow.

We removed the tape and used the interesting neutral: ultramarine blue and burnt sienna to make the warm grey for the dark parts of the bark. We got the tree area wet, made the sides of the tree dark, and kept the middle light. We saw how to use a plastic credit card to scrape the dark paint into the tree, getting texture. We blotted color off with paper towel to lighten the center of the tree. We did a warm yellow/grey wash -kind of stripe - over the tree at the end. We discussed using a thin brush (round #2, or even a rigger which has longer bristles) and quick flicking motions to get the dark branches and twigs, holding the brush lightly at the end to get more flicking action.

Below are a couple images (screen shots) of the birch tree painting idea, and a nice use of masking fluid to show highlights on a boat and water.

Next week, we'll be learning more about paper and sizing, thoroughly immersing and wetting a sheet and taping it down on our boards for wet into wet painting... And also we will do some practice with painterly brush strokes. We'll be in the art room on the first floor next week.

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