Mixed Media Sketch of a White Tern

White Tern.  Sketched in pastel, ink, charcoal, and white colored pencil
White tern. Sketched in pastel (~3 analogous colors), ink, charcoal, and white colored pencil

I sketched this on cheap construction paper from a dollar store immediately after a party a couple years ago.  It was my second drawing using pastel–I haven’t used it since, but would like to!  Pastel drawings can really approach the nuance of oil paintings.  Also, and this may surprise you, pastels are chemically the most stable of all paintings.  E.g., they’ll last the longest if they’re not physically disturbed (which is, unfortunately, very easy to do, even if you spray fixative onto them).

You can’t mix pastels the way you can mix paint, so you need many colors on hand if you’re depicting subtle changes in hue, intensity, or value.  Another thing is that pastels other than oil pastels break down into fine particles that may be dangerous to one’s health, so it’s important to take precautions, such as working outdoors or wearing a face mask.

My First Acrylic Painting

My first "serious" acrylic painting (detail)
My first “serious” acrylic painting (detail)

I first used acrylic while working through Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors, by Betty Edwards, an excellent resource for learning the basics of color theory.  The above painting was the final exercise in that book and was painted on October 25, 2012.

If you’re still interested in painting after you’ve worked through Color, you should consider reading Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter, by James Gurney, which is more accurate (e.g., it brings you up to speed on the most accurate color wheel, “YURMBY”) and more comprehensive.

The above painting used cheap acrylic paint on Bristol board.  Acrylic, unlike oil, can be very difficult to use because it dries quickly and is permanent when dry (e.g., you can ruin your brushes by letting acrylic dry on them; it also dries on your palette).  I had a difficult time creating the above painting.

I plan to create more acrylic paintings in the future, probably on canvas, and I’ll mix some medium into the paint to slow down the drying time.  I might even use transparent and opaque watercolor along with the acrylic (all of them are water-soluble and compatible).

Here’s the setup for the painting above.  I freehand sketched the flower arrangement and then returned to paint it at night using a flashlight.  Tough!

Setup for my first acrylic painting
Setup for my first acrylic painting

Learning Watercolor with Jack Reid, Part VII: More Complete Paintings

Misty Fall Scene

The above painting is probably my least favorite.  It was intended for rough-textured paper, but I used smooth, cold-pressed paper.  Still, it looks pretty similar to what Reid intended.

The following painting is my personal favorite:

Gourds and Pitcher
Gourds and Pitcher

I like the wet-in-wet effects on the surface of the table, on the window panes, and even on the gourds!  (The first pass over the gourds was actually a graded wash.  You can also see graded washes over some areas of the pitcher.)

Soft Winter Day
Soft Winter Day

The above painting uses wet-in-wet pretty heavily (background trees), as well as another technique called “wetting and lifting”  (seen over the roof of the cabin).  There’s some dry brush in there, too (the grass).

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park

The above painting is the last exercise in Reid’s text, and is also one of my favorites.  Besides graded washes, “lifting out” was also used over the distant mountains to suggest cloud cover.  It wasn’t hard to do; I just used a tissue to lift out paint while the areas were still wet.

This concludes the series of paintings I created as I worked through Jack Reid’s Watercolor Basics!

Learning Watercolor with Jack Reid, Part VI: Complete Paintings

Here are a few of the complete watercolor paintings I created while working through the last chapter of Reid’s book:

Mist at Dawn
Mist at Dawn

All of these watercolors were created on 300-lb paper.  (I did use stretched 140-lb paper for many of the exercises in the book, including the value studies.)

In the above painting, note the graded wash from top to bottom (showing the transition between sea and sky).  My initial attempt was too light in value, so I waited for everything to dry and then painted over it with an identical graded wash.  It worked well, increasing both value and intensity!  The lesson I learned was that you shouldn’t be afraid to redo a graded wash to make it more intense.   (Similarly, you shouldn’t be afraid to redo wet-in-wets, either!)

Winter Pond
Winter Pond

The surface of the lake in the above painting is a wet-in-wet, while the shadows along the snowy areas are graded washes.  Super fun time!

Waterfall and Rocks
Waterfall and Rocks

Some of the rocks in this painting are graded washes over which a wet-in-wet was performed.  The thicker the paint (e.g., less loaded with water) you drop into a wet-in-wet area, the better, usually.  You can also see the use of dry brush in the falling water.

To be continued!

Learning Watercolor with Jack Reid, Part V: Going from a Value Study to a Full Color Painting

In Watercolor Basics, Jack Reid asks the reader to paint the same scene five times:  once as a value study in sepia, and then progressively in two, three, four, and five colors.  Here are the paintings I created during this process:

Farmstead at Twilight, value study in sepia
Farmstead at Twilight, value study in sepia
Farmstead at Twilight, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight, burnt sienna and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in raw sienna, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in raw sienna, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in viridian green, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in viridian green, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in cobalt blue, aureolin yellow, rose madder genuine, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue
Farmstead at Twilight in cobalt blue, aureolin yellow, rose madder genuine, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue

I wonder if Reid realized that some of these pigments aren’t lightfast!