Thursday, December 17, 2009

Week 6- Beginning our Watercolor Landscape Paintings

Last week, we talked about the different ways we could manipulate watercolors by trying a flat wash, graded wash, wet on wet and dry brush techniques on a practice strip of paper. This week we began to lay in the background of our watercolor landscapes. We talked about taking our time and layering colors.

I told the kids that watercolor is different from oils and acrylics, because it's hard to change or go over a color if you aren't happy with it. You sort of get what you put down with watercolor and that's why it's a good idea to take your time and think about where you are putting color and how much color you are putting down.

Also, unlike oils and acrylics which are opaque paints, watercolors are translucent. In other words, if you want white in your painting that means not painting on that part of the painting, as the paper is your "white", as you can see through the paint to the paper below.

The same goes for lighter colors like yellow. If you are painting a green field and there's a bit of yellow in there, it's best to leave the yellow part blank, paint the green, and then go back in and paint the yellow part. If you just paint green and then try to paint yellow over it, you won't end up with a light bright yellow.

Watercolor is challenging and requires some forethought, but the kids seems to be doing a good job of figuring this out.

Here's their progress so far:

We'll continue to lay in the backgrounds of our landscapes when we meet again after the break. The following week we'll talk about how to paint the more detailed parts of the foreground in our landscapes.

Have a great holiday break and we'll see you in 2010!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 5- Exploring Watercolor Techniques

This week, we explored 5 different watercolor techniques.

The first one we tried was a flat wash. Basically, it involves loading the brush with water and paint, making broad strokes back and forth to lay in an even tone of color. This is useful when painting a background or large solid area.

Then, we did a graded wash. This is useful for laying in skies or water to show depth.

Then, we did a wet on wet technique. We used our brushes to saturate the paper and then made strokes of color on top to see what happens. Using more than one color makes those colors bleed together. I think this was the kids' favorite, because it you end up with such a unique results. Wet on wet is a technique that is truly "watercolor-esque" and can't really be duplicated in oils or acrylics.

Next, we did a dry brush technique. This is used to lay in broad saturated strokes of color.

Finally, we layered some color over part of our flat wash. We talked about how layering color is a way to mix colors right on the paper. The transparency of watercolor lends itself to layering.

Next week, we'll start on our landscape using the techniques we went over today. Here's all the techniques, in a row:

By the way, I'm trying to collect white (black doesn't work... can't see the colors well) styrofoam containers for paint mixing.

I'm looking for the smaller ones... around 5 1/2" x 8". Please send them in with your kids if you can. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Week 4-Starting our Watercolor Landscape

This week, we started a long term watercolor project. I gave each student a photograph of a landscape. There are four scenes...beach, mountains, a field and forest. We talked about the horizon line and composition.

Then, we started to sketch our landscape drawings, being careful not to press too hard. Sketching the forms lightly will ensure that we won't see the pencil lines when we paint.

Some of the kids had forest scenes are were concerned about drawing each leaf on the trees. I told them they don't have to do that. Many artists draw and paint trees to suggest leaf forms without drawing each individual leaf. Here's a forest landscape by Monet. Even though the painting is done in oils, the same idea applies:

Leaves are suggested with color and form. We'll do the mountains and beach the same way. The prior three weeks were a good foundation for this landscape drawing. The kids have concentrated on geometric shapes and now they are working on organic shapes.

Here's an example of the mountain scene:

And here's the beach scene:

Next week, we'll cover the four basic watercolor techniques: Flat Wash, Graded Wash, Wet on Wet, and Dry Brush in the beginning of the class. Then, we'll start on our painting.