PAINTING made easy Your FREE step-by-step guide
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Whether you are a keen beginner or an experienced artist, creating great paintings is always a tricky business. Painting Made Easy has been designed to help you along at every step of the process, from choosing the right brushes to painting on location. Packed with step-by-step demos and expert advice from some of the UK’s leading fine artists, we hope Painting Made Easy will be a great way to brush up on the basics – or maybe even encourage a friend to get started!
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WITH THANKS TO
Hashim Akib, David Bellamy, Joe Dowden, Siân Dudley, Mary Ellingham, Tim Fisher, Cedric Grossman, Geoff Kersey, Louise Rose and Shirley Trevena
Taken from Tim Fisher’s How to Paint… Flowers in Acrylics (Search Press)
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Contents 4 TOOLS & MATERIALS
Get your own online art portfolio - details on pa g e 3 1
Expert advice on selecting the best brushes, paints and supports
Leading art tutor Geoff Kersey answers your questions on arranging subjects
10 HOW TO PAINT… PORTRAITS
Acrylic artist Hashim Akib introduces a vibrant approach to painting faces
14 MARK MAKING
Learn how to create unusual effects in paint and experiment with different tools
Uncover your experimental side with Shirley Trevena RI’s bold palette advice
20 HOW TO PAINT… WILD ROSES
This great step-by-step demonstration by Tim Fisher introduces bright contrasts
Watercolourist Joe Dowden presents his five golden rules for plein air painting
26 HOW TO PAINT… WATERFALLS
Landscape master David Bellamy shows how to create atmospheric watercolours
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tools & materials
Tools & materials Before you get stuck into painting, you need to stock up on the best equipment. Here is our guide to picking the right paints, supports and tools for you.
There are three main painting mediums – oils, acrylics and watercolours – and each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Used by all of the great masters, oil painting dates back to the 14th century and has been championed ever since thanks to its rich, glossy appearance and it’s longevity and durability. Oil paints are made by mixing raw pigment with oil binders, including linseed oil, poppy oil and walnut oil. You can have a go at making your own oils with raw pigment but this requires both practise and patience. Oils can be mixed with various mediums, including alkyd resins, wax or turps, in order to create a smoother texture or thinner consistency. Oils dry very slowly which means they can be worked on for long periods of time.
Acrylic paints are relatively new: first developed in the 1950s, they became instantly popular with Pop Artists, such as Andy Warhol and Sir Peter Blake. Acrylics handle in a similar way to oils but they are water-based, meaning they can be applied in thin layers or thick impasto. They dry relatively quickly, although there are plenty of additives available that can be mixed with your colours to extend the ‘open’ time of the paint. Pastes and gels can also be bought to alter the surface texture of your finished painting.
Watercolour is one of the oldest painting mediums. A version of it was first used in cave paintings and it became a popular artistic medium during the Italian Renaissance.
Watercolours either come in small, hard cubes known as ‘pans’ or squeezable tubes. To work with it, the colour is diluted with water – you can choose between heavily diluted paint to create large, faint washes of colour, or a mix with less water for a stronger, more potent effect.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT
For absolute beginners, acrylic is the easiest medium with which to gain confidence. The paint is opaque, meaning you can paint over mistakes – great when you’re starting out. The hardest medium to master is watercolour. This is because, aside from planning, the artist has little control over what will happen as the paint goes into the paper, although the painter can guide it, the watercolour mixture has a life of its own. The ability to trust yourself and your instincts and the medium is something only more experienced painters can successfully manage. All paint comes in either student or artist grades. Artists’ quality paints will contain high levels of pigment and produce stronger colours. Typically, there will be more colours to choose from within the range and the colour will not change much after it dries – although, unsurprisingly, this all comes at a cost! Student quality paint is more affordable, but has lower levels of pigment and the colour shift is greater once the paint has dried. Student quality paints sometimes use imitation colours. These will often include the word ‘hue’ in the name, indicating an approximation of the intended pigment.
TOOLS & MATERIALS
Larger rounds are good for impasto; smaller rounds for picking out fine detail
The widest option – perfect for glazes or used side-on for fine lines
A round-headed flat, used for wet-inwet watercolour and smoother strokes
A good brush is the key to being able to express yourself confidently and comfortably with your chosen paint. However, with so many variations on the market to choose from, the best rule of thumb is to ask yourself what you want to achieve with them.
The first thing to decide upon is whether you will be mainly painting with oils, acrylics or watercolour. Although you could technically paint with any brush, manufacturers have developed ones for each medium and they will last longer as a result. For example, a watercolour brush will handle dilute acrylics very well at first, but the acids contained in the paint can cause them to deteriorate more quickly.
TYPE OF HAIR
The cost of a brush can vary quite considerably depending on the type
of hair used. Synthetic brushes are often the cheapest option – they are also the easiest to clean, largely because they don’t hold the paint as well as natural brushes (which is also considered a disadvantage to some!). Of the natural brushes available, red sable is a safe choice – it is more durable than some animal-hair brushes, even if it does lack the smoothness of the more costly options, like Kolinsky sable. The type of hair also affects the surface texture of your painting. A bristle brush will leave visible, textured strokes, whereas a softer sable or squirrel brush will allow you to create a smoother, blended finish.
SHAPE OF BRUSH
Great for drybrush watercolour techniques and subtle blends of tone in oils
The thick heads are the best for taking up watercolour to cover large areas
It is useful to keep a range of brush shapes to hand, in order to create a variety of different marks and effects. In the column (right), we've explained the benefits of the five main types.
tools & materials
Your choice of support depends upon your chosen medium – opt for canvas or board for oils and acrylics; choose paper for watercolour and other water-based media. When you are starting out, you might feel it’s best to start on a smaller support. However, working in this way demands a greater attention to detail. You might feel that starting with a larger surface area can be less restrictive – and more creative – in the long run.
Canvas and boards
Canvas comes in different weights and grains, so working out what works best for your particular style is simply a case of trial and error. Stretching your own canvas involves cutting material from the roll, pulling it across a wooden stretcher, stapling it in place and using wedges to keep it taut. It is a good skill to learn as a personalised canvas can add
Watercolour paper comes in countless combinations of size, weight, colour and texture. Watercolour paper also comes in range of weights, usually measured in grams per square metre, or ‘gsm’. The heavier the paper, the pricier it will be. Light paper is to be avoided because it can cockle more easily and all of the paint pigment will gather in the dips – try to avoid anything less than 300gsm for watercolour painting. If you are using a lighter paper, it is essential to stretch it, in order to avoid it cockling when water is laid on it. To stretch your paper, wet (but don’t saturate) the back of the paper with a brush or sponge. Turn it over and use gum strip along each edge to stick the paper to a board or flat surface. Some schools of thought claim that heavier paper doesn’t need to be stretched, but given that so much water is used in any watercolour painting – causing the paper to expand and contract when dry – you’re safest to stretch any paper. With the thickest paper, you might even need to give it a dunk in the bath!
character to your work and save you money, but it is also a tricky process. If you are new to painting on canvas, it’s best to start on a pre-stretched, ready primed canvas, leaving you free to focus on the painting. The most commonly used canvas is linen, which is fine yet has an irregular ‘tooth’ (the tightness of the weave). Linen is the most expensive option; however it is also strong, durable and favoured by artists as it is so easy to work on. A cheaper option is cotton duck, which is still strong and has a more uniform weave. It is a perfect surface on which to practice, as it is fairly dull and characterless – just what you need when you are starting out. Canvas boards or plywood panels can make good cheap alternatives to canvas, too. Remember that the panels usually come unprimed, so apply three thin coats of gesso primer before you start.
Below are three basic surface textures of paper. Their names refer to the processes in which they are made:
hot-Pressed (or hP)
This has the smoothest finish and paint dries quickest on it, making it perfect for beginners
cold-Pressed (or not)
This is the most popular option. It has a mediumgrade texture, or ‘tooth’, which means that the paint will make contact with the raised areas only
rough (or torchon)
This has a coarse texture. It is popular with experienced artists who want to make more expressive work and benefit from the added tooth.
TOOLS & MATERIALS
Traditionally, painters would use a palette that most closely matched the colour of the ground so it was easier to judge how the various mixes would look on the canvas or paper. Different mediums require a different type palette. Oil painters have historically used wooden palettes, which are too porous for other mediums. Acrylics and watercolours are both water-based so should be used with either ceramic or plastic palettes. For studio work, ceramic palettes are the best investment in the long term because they won’t stain like their plastic counterparts. Plastic is more durable if you’re working outdoors – plenty of watercolour palettes even come with the pans of paint included and a lid that is perfect for artists on the move. Tear-off palettes are also good for water-based paints but must be kept wet to ensure the paints don’t dry up. You can also get disposable palettes for oils, too. The benefit of these throwaway options is that you don’t have to clean them, which is especially useful when working outdoors. Cleaning watercolour or acrylic palettes is simple: warm soapy water should be sufficient. However, oil palettes are a different ball game. No matter how tempting it is to do it later, cleaning oils is twice as hard (literally) once the paint has dried. First, use a palette knife to scrape excess paint into a container (you should never pour oil paint or solvents down the drain). Then apply paint thinner (such as turpentine or a citrus-based brush cleaner) to a piece of kitchen towel and use it to wipe away the remaining pigment. Once it has all gone, wash the palette with soapy water.
Palette knives and painting knives are both made with stainless steel blades and wooden handles, but there is a key difference between them. Palette knives are usually long and slender with slightly rounded ends. They are used for mixing oil or acrylic paint (to avoid ruining your brushes) and scraping it off the palette at the end of your session. Meanwhile, painting knives are more flexible and come in a range of different sizes and shapes. They are used for applying oil or acrylics onto your support, usually in a thick ‘impasto’ style. The head of the knife is cranked lower than the handle so that your hands don’t interfere with the paint surface. With painting knives, the tip of the blade should be used for delicate details, the smooth flat section for broad strokes, and the edges for horizontal or vertical lines. The flat outline of the shape of the knife can be used repeatedly like a stamp. Diamond- or trowel-shaped knives are brilliant for sharp lines or perfect angles, while the rounded pear shapes offer smoother, more curved contours. Painting knives are equally effective at removing paint from the canvas,
although this sort of reworking might require a retarder to keep the paint flexible, particularly with acrylics. In truth, almost any tool can be used to apply paint to your surface. Sponges, sticks, clingfilm, leaves... Each can give its own unusual or unique textures. ●
Composition Broadly speaking, ‘composition’ is the arrangement of shape, colour, tone and line. It is what invites viewers to focus. Good composition can be hard to master, especially when it comes to landscapes. Getting the position of elements right can make or break a painting. Knowing what to include is key, too – there are some scenes that just never work and others that include features that make them a safer choice. The suggestion of depth is the basis of good landscape composition. The simplest way to achieve this is using ‘interposition’ – or overlapping objects – such as having a tree in front of a house. Find overlapping elements in your compositions and the suggestion of space and scale will be instant.
If you’re stuck, try to identify a foreground, middle ground and background. This is a classic way of establishing composition, however some vistas simply cannot be divided in those terms. Having unclear sections that are neither here nor there does not show great compositional promise and should be avoided. Linear perspective (the suggestion of depth with lines meeting at a ‘disappearing point’ on the horizon) makes viewers look into and through a painting. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as a straight line, but any path that can be formed to carry your eye well into the picture works well. A good time to paint landscapes is in the early morning or evening – the sun is lower in the sky and the longer shadows cast make for
Did you know?
Paul Cézanne believed natural subjects could be reduced to three shapes – the sphere, the cylinder and the cone – and he composed all his paintings in this way
Leading art tutor and watercolourist Geoff Kersey answers your compositional questions Should a painting always have a focal point? In my opinion a painting always benefits from having a focal point, as it gives the viewer something to focus on and involves them more directly in the scene. How do you decide where to position your focal point? I usually try to position it taking the ‘Rule of Thirds’ into account – you may have heard this called the ‘golden section’. Do this by dividing your image into nine equal parts by drawing in two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. Four intersections are created where the lines cross and these can be good locations for placing your focal point. Should the focal point always be a single object or figure? Not necessarily, but in my case it often is. However, something like a bend in the road or a group
of objects can also make a good focal point. I find something man-made, like a building, makes a good focal point in a scene that is otherwise natural, especially if you can use this opportunity to introduce a colour that doesn’t occur anywhere else in the scene. Are there any golden rules? No. Not every painting has to have the aspects I’ve mentioned meticulously applied; if you do that, you’ll find your painting can look a bit formulaic. It’s better to treat them as guidelines rather than hard-and-fast rules. Are there any things to avoid when arranging a picture? I would say a definite no-no would be putting the focal point in the centre – it could be to the right or the left of the centre, but a dead central focus makes the composition too symmetrical and rarely works in my opinion.
much more interesting shapes and contrasts; all things that will contribute to making a striking image.
Sketchbooks are an important tool for visual note making at spontaneous moments of inspiration. Sketchbooks are also an excellent means of planning a composition and researching your subject matter before the painting begins. You can use them to revise potential ideas or record them for future use. Removing unnecessary details from landscape paintings can often create a better suggestion of depth and space. Although you may want plenty going on, you don’t want too many objects competing for attention. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself what an object is bringing to the composition – if the answer is nothing, it’s not worth including. You can always use a viewfinder to plan the best frame. Make sure there is plenty of variety in the frame – the objects should be different shapes and sizes, preferably overlapping. Find a focal point but don’t make the mistake of putting it in the centre of the composition. You should also try to avoid
Geoff Kersey’s Trees, Woodlands and Forests in Watercolour is published by Search Press, RRP £10.99. www.geoffkersey.co.uk
repeating lines, sizes and movements, as this will dilute the focal point. Working out how you want to capture your subject in portrait painting is crucial to the painting’s success. Do you want a full body portrait? Or just the head and shoulders? What is the effect of either? Many portrait painters like to include clues about their subjects placed around them, including pieces of jewellery or books. This adds a sense of narrative and mystery. Other painters like to keep the background plain and focus in on the face for maximum intensity. Traditionally, portrait compositions were ‘pyramids’ – the Mona Lisa is a classic example. The head must be well supported by the shoulders. Often the lower part of a portrait will be filled with objects that support the torso and head of the subject. Still life paintings very require careful arrangements. The shapes, colours and textures should be varied and contrasting to add flavour. Always select an odd number of objects and make sure you include at least three. The lack of symmetry involved in odd numbers can make a composition more interesting to look at. ●
HOW TO PAINT… PORTRAITS
How to paint…
By h im Akib Has Painting a variety of nationalities is very interesting and useful, as skin colour, hair and facial features can be subtly, or even dramatically, different. This project will help you to reinterpret and appreciate how you might mix colours for creating warmth, particularly in the skin tones. Lots of wrinkles and lines are not always necessary to show age or character. Finding the essential, distinctive ones is more important. You can convey a lot through the way the brushstrokes are applied.
Did you know?
Using a base colour that is complementary to your subject’s skin colour is a good way of adding to the richness of your finished painting
Mix Phthalo Green, Coeruleum Blue and Titanium White together with the 50mm (2in) Sky Flow brush, then use it to lay a smooth ground on to the canvas.
Clean and dry your brush, then load it with Burnt Sienna, Deep Violet, Cadmium Red and a little Process Magenta. Lay a few bold strokes in a vertical line down the centre of the canvas.
You will need
• Brushes 50mm (2”) Sky Flow, 25mm (1”) short flat • Acrylics Phthalo Green, Coeruleum Blue, Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Deep Violet, Cadmium Red, Process Magenta, Sap Green, Cadmium Orange, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Process Cyan, Cobalt Blue • Canvas 46x61cm (18x24”) • A water pot
Build up the structure on the left with bold downwards strokes using the whole length of the bristles. Pick up some Sap Green and Phthalo Green along with the other colours and apply the paint on the left-hand side of the face for shading.
Load warmer colours: Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna, Deep Violet and touches of Cadmium Orange. Build up the cheekbone, eye socket and shadow of the nose with more controlled strokes that utilise only the front third of the bristles.
how to paintâ€Ś portraits
Suggest the mouth using the paint remaining on the brush and two light touches of the brush. Use the reference photograph to add a few guideline marks for the shape of the forehead, ear and jaw, using Deep Violet, Phthalo Green and Burnt Sienna.
Use the same colours with shorter brushstrokes for the manâ€™s stubble. Add Cadmium Yellow and suggest reflected light on the bottom of the beard.
Use Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red, Process Magenta and Cadmium Orange to drop in warm areas to pick out the ear.
Block in the shirt with the reflected light colours (Yellow Ochre, Coeruleum Blue, Sap Green and Cadmium Yellow).
Do not clean the brush. Begin to lay in the hair with lighter-toned colours: load Yellow Ochre, Coeruleum Blue and Sap Green. Try to create texture, using many curt, opposing brushstrokes. Pick up a little Deep Violet for the back of the hair and areas in shadow.
Pick up the warm colours (Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Orange and Deep Violet) and suggest furrows, veins, wrinkles and other texture with short, flicking motions amongst the stubble, eye, forehead, cheek and ear.
Clean and dry your brush. Load it with plenty of Titanium White along with Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Process Cyan and Process Magenta. Leaving a few small patches of the blue basecoat showing through, use short strokes and touches of the brush blade to add in the sheen of reflected light on the skin. To achieve a natural effect, use short, broken strokes and occasionally introduce tiny touches of Cadmium Red and Cadmium Orange as you reload the brush.
Clean and dry the brush, then load it with plenty of Titanium White along with Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Sap Green and use it to paint the stubble and hair. Resist the temptation to simply stipple tiny marks: vary the marks with slightly longer, more adventurous strokes.
how to paint… portraits
Develop the shirt with strong highlights of Titanium White with additional touches of Lemon Yellow and Process Cyan. Add some Cadmium Yellow and Sap Green to paint in the midtones.
Complete the upper background with Titanium White, Cadmium Red, Process Magenta and Cobalt Blue at the very top.
This is an extract from Hashim Akib’s Vibrant Acrylics, published by Search Press, RRP £14.99. Turn to page 31 to find out how to order a copy for the discounted price of £12.99 with free P&P.
Clean and dry your brush, then load Titanium White, Deep Violet and Cobalt Blue. Use the whole width of the brush to overlay the background at the bottom. Do not follow the line of the jaw: bring strokes in from various angles to leave a few touches of the base colour showing through.
Switch to the 25mm (1”) short flat brush and load it with Titanium White and Lemon Yellow for the ultimate highlights. Punctuate the painting with small, strong, broken strokes, concentrating on the areas in direct sunlight such as the forehead, shirt, stubble and hair.
Load additional Sap Green and Cadmium Yellow as you work upwards into the central background. Add more Titanium White as you work past the nose.
Load the 25mm (1”) short flat with Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre and Cadmium Red. Vary the hue with Deep Violet and Cadmium Orange, and use light gliding strokes to add shape to the skin areas by making subtle connections between the cruder brushstrokes made earlier.
The finished painting This man has an amazing face, with all of life’s experience written on it. The photograph is from a series of portraits a friend took on her travels through India, and it is the one that I felt had most character. Profiles can be a bit tricky, but in compositional terms a figure looking away can be more intriguing than one looking directly at you.
how to paintâ€Ś portraits
exploring possibilities Here are seven different mark-making techniques you can use as a springboard for experimenting further
spattering Load a brush with paint and hit it against the side of your hand or switch to a toothbrush and flick the paint by pulling back the bristles. Use flicks sparingly to create a sense of movement.
Absorbing Creating interesting marks doesn’t just mean adding paint. Use a sheet of kitchen roll to soak up the colour, varying the pressure – particularly good with still-wet watercolour washes.
glazing A glaze is a thin, transparent layer of oil or acrylic contained within a glaze medium. It’s great for building up layers of pure colour that work with the existing paint, rather than concealing it.
graining Unexpected effects and textures can be created by adding salt to wet watercolour paint. Let the salt absorb the colour to make a range of unusual, organic shapes.
Masking Masking fluid can be applied to your paper in the areas you want to keep white – plus it can be peeled off at a later date. You can also try a technique called ‘wax resist’, using a wax candle to draw with.
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When it comes to making marks, the options are endless – the real fun comes in trying things out and developing your own individual ‘handwriting’ with paint. Even if you’ve been painting for years, it can be a useful exercise to take a blank sheet of paper, load up a brush and try creating spontaneous marks. Vary the pressure you apply and the consistency of the paint; try painting over both wet and dry layers. If you make accidental marks that you like, make notes on how you have created them. When you achieve some success, it is easy to become hooked on one way of working and so this is a great way of experimenting in a way you might not be prepared to risk in the middle of a big picture. Once you are comfortable handling a brush, you can then explore the more unusual options suggested below. The next stage is working them into a painting in a natural way. Siân Dudley’s Fish In Bridge (right) is a great example of how a combination of interesting marks can create visual interest in a simple composition. Notice how Siân has subtly varied the colour of the bridge by painting wet-in-wet (in other words, adding more paint while the surface is still wet), yet she contrasts this with the hard lines of the shadow under the arch that were painted onto a dry surface. Spattering masking fluid allowed her to pick out white highlights on the bridge, while lines of masking fluid were also used to suggest grass and stems on the banks. ●
Squirting Another great way to add an unexpected element is by blowing the paint around. Fill a plastic syringe with paint and squirt it across the page for a range of abstract effects to work with.
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Understanding colour The various terms explained
The relative intensity of a colour – often referred to as either high or low key
SELECTING A GOOD PALETTE
We all know that red and yellow makes orange but to achieve more subtle combinations, it helps to have a good grasp of colour theory. In colour mixing terms, the primary colours are not red, yellow and blue but rather
magenta, yellow and cyan (some acrylic brands even offer a pure, ‘process’ version of each of these colours). In practice, this isn’t always possible so you could opt for a palette of, say, Permanent Rose, Lemon Yellow and Phthalo Blue. You will find that you can mix most combinations with just these three colours (plus a white if you are using oils or acrylics – watercolourists should rely upon the white of the page). Once you have become familiar mixing with these three colours, it can help to broaden your palette to a six-colour system in order to develop your mixing capabilities further. A six-colour palette would involve a ‘warm’ and a ‘cool’ version of each of these three primaries. In practice, this might be Permanent Rose (cool), Cadmium Red (warm), Lemon Yellow (cool), Cadmium Yellow (warm), French Ultramarine (cool) and Phthalo Blue (warm). Bear in mind, the temperature of a colour is relative to the other colours on your palette – for some artists, Phthalo Blue might be considered a cool colour, for example. For speed and accuracy, it can help to add to this basic palette with additional colours that are particular to your chosen subject matter. For example, the famous marine artist Alistair Butt opts for a palette that includes Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre – perfect for mixing the greens, blues and
SUGGESTED STARTING PALETTES
The appearance of the colour. When used in the name of a paint (e.g. Lemon Yellow Hue), the manufacturer is indicating that a substitute pigment has been used to achieve the same colour
The relative warmth of a colour – either warmer (redder) or cooler (bluer)
A pigment’s relative ability to reflect or absorb light
BreAKING the ruleS
Shirley Trevena RI explains how to be bold with colour “Colour is a feeling more than a science for me. It’s intuitive. I’ve not been to art school and so when I started painting, I launched straight in and picked tubes of paint that just looked absolutely yummy, I didn’t think about how they would go together. I am still like that – I have never had a ‘limited’ palette. “I try to plan colour. I’ll put a deep red on a swatch and try other colours next to it. When you are half way through a painting it takes on a life of its own and demands colours you hadn’t thought about. “I used to think to make a ‘cool’ painting you use blue and a ‘hot’ painting will be red but that’s not true. Some reds are hotter than others. As a beginner, that’s hard to grasp. Personally, I think the only way to make the painting look warm is to include elements of iciness and vice versa. “People say you shouldn’t use pure black because it’s deadening but actually I think pure black is fantastic. Cezanne and Manet used it – it’s magical, strong and brings drama. However, I don’t use white paint, ever: I let my paper show through instead. “The only way to really find out about colour is to learn as you go. You can look at colour wheels until the cows come home but you don’t want to be too technically bound. They say, ‘blue and green should never be seen’, but I like it.” Shirley trevena’s Breaking the Rules of Watercolour is published by Batsford, rrp £18.99. www.shirleytrevena.com
earth colours of a landscape. In contrast to this, popular botanical painter Sandrine Maugy recommends a palette that leans more towards reds and violets instead, with Permanent Rose and Alizarin Crimson – great for eye-catching blooms. Ultimately, you should adapt the colours in your palette to suit your own personal tastes.
Depth of colour
Several factors can determine the richness of colour in your finished artwork and if you want to achieve the best results, you need to know how they work. For starters, try to avoid mixing too many different paint colours together in one go, as this can dull your mix. A colour mixed from just two well-chosen paints will generally give a better finish, while the use of single-pigment paints will also help avoid muddying a mix.
Some watercolour pigments will also ‘granulate’ – in other words, they can separate on your page, causing the colour to appear duller than on your palette. Granulation can be used to your advantage for adding texture to certain areas, although most good paint manufacturers label granulating colours so they can be avoided if necessary. And it’s not just the paint itself that needs careful consideration. A particularly absorbent canvas or one with a strong ‘tooth’ can subdue a colour, while an off-white paper can affect the brightness of a wash, too. And finally, as we recommended earlier in the guide, the difference between artists’ quality paint and student grade can be dramatic. Always buy the best paint you can afford – you will enjoy the results more which in turn will encourage you to improve next time out. ●
HOW TO PAINT… WILD ROSES
How to paint…
r e h s i F m i T By
This is a type of painting style that ensures the results will always be different, no matter how many times you try it. I find this way of working great fun as it dispenses with any need for precision and can often result in some nice surprises! After a while you should have the confidence to paint these types of paintings with no preliminary line work at all.
You will need
• Mountcard 39.5x39.5cm • Paintbrushes size 4 flat, size 8 round • Acrylic paints Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Red Hue, Raw Sienna, Titanium White, Cerulean Blue, Winsor Violet, Quinacridone Red, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) • Fine-tipped permanent black drawing pen • Teardrop-shaped painting knife
Use the teardrop-shaped painting knife to pick up Lemon Yellow and a touch of Cadmium Red Hue (see inset), then apply it thinly to the mountcard, drawing it with fairly short strokes.
Use the fine-tipped black pen to transfer the main shapes from your tonal sketch to the mountcard.
Working outwards from the centre, continue to apply Lemon Yellow and touches of Cadmium Red Hue thinly across the mountcard with the palette knife, and introduce Raw Sienna on the left and lower areas.
Continue building up the colour and begin to build up the tonal structure by using Cadmium Red Hue to build up the blooms and Raw Sienna at the bottom and left. Refer to the tonal sketch for guidance on where to put the darker colour.
HOW TO PAINT… WILD ROSES
Did you know?
The technique of exposing underlying layers of paint is called ‘sgraffito’
Allow the paint to dry thoroughly, then start to build up the background. Still using the teardrop-shaped painting knife, pick up a little Titanium White and Cerulean Blue and apply it at the top right.
Adding touches of Winsor Violet for the deepest shades, continue to fill in the background. Aim for a marbled effect, picking up amounts of different colours simultaneously on your knife and skimming the paint over the surface. Done lightly enough, the knife will leave the sgraffito effects intact.
Load the brush with Cadmium Red Hue and draw the flat of it outwards from the centre to block in the shape of the main petals.
Continue applying the paint, varying the proportion of Titanium White and Cerulean Blue to follow your tonal sketch. Work in fairly long diagonal strokes, to suggest light streaming in from the top right. Cut around the flowers as you work, and leave a little of the underpainting showing through.
Continue working down the painting, gradually reducing the amount of Titanium White in the mix. Use a wobbling stroke of the knife and scrape upwards with the tip to suggest the stems.
Switch to the size 4 flat brush and use the same colours (Titanium White, Cerulean Blue and Winsor Violet) to cut into the main flowerhead and give it shape.
Use a mix of Cadmium Red Hue and Winsor Violet to begin the shading on the petals. Add the mix in the recesses (the parts nearest the centre of the spiral).
Block in a loose spiral of Cadmium Red Hue on to the main flowerhead, using the blade of the flat brush.
Mix an orange from Quinacridone Red and Lemon Yellow, and use this mix to apply mid-tones, emphasising them on the top and right-hand sides of the flower.
how to paintâ€Ś wild roses
Make a highlight mix of Lemon Yellow and titanium white. Apply small touches of this sparingly, to pick out the edges and points in direct sunlight.
Flick in some subtle curved strokes on the remaining blooms using the mid-tone mix (Quinacridone Red and Lemon Yellow).
Add Winsor Violet to the green mix for a darker shade and develop the lower left area with negative shading around the flowers and stems.
Using the same mixes and techniques, develop the group of blooms on the lower left. Because these are in the darker area, use slightly more of the shading colours and slightly less of the highlight mixes. Work more loosely on this group than the main flower, so as not to draw attention away from it.
Still using the size 4 flat brush, refine the shapes on the background around the flowers using various mixes of Titanium White, Cerulean Blue and Winsor Violet, applying the paint with slightly tighter strokes than before.
Look at the shapes that have been created in the background by your earlier loose strokes. Develop the background by reinforcing any that help to create the impression of leaves and stems around the lower left-hand side and the centre. Add loose flicks of pure Cadmium Red Hue and Lemon Yellow for interest.
Work on the group of blooms on the top left. These are in the light and slightly turned away, so the spirals should be flatter and more subtle. Use more of the mid-tone and highlight colours, and less of the shading mixes.
Make a light green mix from Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), Lemon Yellow and Titanium White. Switch to the size 8 round brush to pick out the stems and suggest other grasses with strokes in the background.
Load the size 8 round brush with a mix of Cadmium Red Hue and Lemon Yellow, and shape the tip into a soft wedge, then suggest seed heads to the left and right of the main flowers.
how to paintâ€Ś wild roses
Add some subtle highlights to the main flower with a mix of Titanium White and Lemon Yellow.
Use the same mix to add highlights across the painting.
This is an extract from Tim Fisher's How to Paint... Flowers in Acrylics, published by Search Press. To find out how to order a copy for ÂŁ8.99 with free P&P, turn to page 31.
Strengthen the main flower by cutting in with the background mixes and Cadmium Red Hue. This is the focal point, so it is important that it is correct. Finally, make any tweaks that you feel necessary.
It’s strange to think that painting outdoors was once considered unusual, although it wasn’t until the Impressionists first took their easels out of their studios in the 19th century that working ‘en plein air’ became a popular pastime for artists. Nowadays there is plenty of great kit available to choose from, but the real trick with painting on location is learning to be economical – both with the equipment that you carry and the information that you choose to record.
As anyone who has lugged a heavy art box up a hill will attest, travelling light is an important part of painting on location. However, without the luxuries of a sink, a store cupboard and even a roof over your head, you need to be sufficiently prepared. Many artists use French box easels or smaller ‘pochade’ boxes as they are both light, collapsible and have space to hold many of your tools and materials. Consider taking a
limited palette – this has two benefits: not only is there less to carry but also it can help to focus your concentration, forcing you to look harder in order to create the right mix. Be selective with other tools and materials too – for example, try to keep the number of brushes to a minimum. Prepare your supports before you go out too – stretch a sheet of watercolour paper or prime a few boards for acrylic and oils to save time on location. Comfort is very important and shouldn’t be sacrificed completely for a lighter load. Consider taking a folding chair and (depending on the forecast) either a sun hat or an umbrella. Other useful non-paint extras to pack
are a sketchbook (great for working out composition ideas, making colour swatches or jotting down notes) and a small SLR or compact camera – perfect for taking reference shots to back up your studies. Cleaning up can be tricky without a sink, so remember to take kitchen roll or tissue, and for acrylic or oil painters, try using a disposable tear-off palette. Finally, bear in mind your return journey – when your work is still drying, transporting it can be difficult and it would be a shame to spoil a masterpiece on the home stretch. Leave space in your car for lying paintings flat. Alternatively, if you’re on foot, most pochade boxes can hold a couple of small, wet paintings in the lid.
One of the biggest artistic challenges you will face when painting on location is the dramatic variation in the light as the day progresses. As the sun moves across the sky, your light source is constantly shifting, creating long shadows in the morning and evening. There are several ways to work around this. One option is to work quickly and lay in the major areas of the composition quite quickly with a larger brush. If you’re working in watercolour, you could create a couple of quick washes to indicate the different elements of your chosen landscape; for oil or acrylic, try sketching in the main areas with a thinned colour mix. If you have the luxury of returning to the same location on several consecutive days, consider creating a series of small paintings that you can work on at the same stage of every subsequent day. It can be a great exercise to restrict yourself to spending just an hour on a painting at the same time for a few consecutive days so that you really learn to look at your landscape. Why not label each your paintings 10am, 11am, noon and so on, switching them over every hour? Try to focus on recording the changes in the light source, colour and shadows. Above all, remember that you don’t need to return from a day spent plein air painting with a complete, gallery-worthy picture. It can be equally useful and satisfying to produce a series of small studies that can form the basis of a larger, more complete painting at a later date. ●
When it comes to plein air painting, Joe Dowden is an expert in the field. Here are his five tips for artistic success outdoors 1. Keep things simple “My first golden rule is don’t plan too much – just crack on and do it. When you’re working on site, you don’t need to be too intellectual or have lots of notes or studies. In my opinion, people do that too often and as a result they stop looking at what’s actually there. By far the best sketches happen when the artist has shown up and really looked.” 2. AdApt A tripod “I couldn’t live without a Ken Bromley Camera Tripod Mounting Bracket, as it allows you to use a tripod instead of an easel. Photographic tripods are lighter and more practical. You simply screw the adaptor plate onto the back of your mount board and adjust to suit.” 3. Avoid hArsh sunlight “For me, changes in light aren’t a big issue. You do need good light in the studio, but for landscape painting I don’t think
you need to worry too much about it. That said, it’s best to paint early in the morning or late afternoon – the light is less harsh at those times.” 4. Consider the tones “A lot of people don’t know anything about greyscale: the blackness and whiteness of something. People think tone is colour but it’s not; it’s blackness and whiteness – or greyscale. It’s often called ‘value’ in art colleges. Good painting is 95% greyscale and 5% about colour.” 5. Be AmBitious “Try the John Constable approach, putting everything you see plus a lot more in a colossal frame. Inexperienced painters invariably do this, but really you need to be more experienced to make this work. Sometimes you can’t get it all in.” For more information on Joe’s workshops, books and DVDs, visit www.joedowden.com
how to paint… waterfalls
How to paint…
You will need
• Saunders Waterford 640gsm (300lb) Rough watercolour paper • Brushes squirrel mop, no. 1 rigger, 6mm (1/4”) flat, no. 10 round, no. 4 round, no. 7 round, 13mm (1/2”) flat • Watercolours Naples Yellow, French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow Pale • Masking fluid • An old brush • A sponge • A paper mask
Waterfalls By y m a l l e B d i Da v
There is nothing quite like the wet-in-wet method for creating a misty, atmospheric background, and in this demonstration we also see how to tackle mist caused by spray, creating a lost and found backdrop directly next to the waterfall.
Draw the scene. Use masking fluid and an old brush to mask the foliage, which will be lighter than the background, the trunks of the small trees on the right and a few splashes in the water around the cascade. Allow to dry.
Use the no. 10 brush to paint the righthand bank with Yellow Ochre, then drop in Cadmium Orange in places. While it is wet, drop in a mix of Cadmium Red and Burnt Umber.
Wet the background and sky with a squirrel mop, then drop in Naples Yellow in the top right-hand sky, then a mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber around this, working wet in wet. Next wash French Ultramarine over the left-hand side. Soften any edges with a damp brush if they become too harsh.
Suggest the crashing water of the waterfall with French Ultramarine. Use the rough texture of the paper to imply the frothing water. Add Burnt Umber to the mix in the lower falls to darken it a little above the white water created by the falling water crashing into the pool.
Still working wet in wet, pick up a strong mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber on the no. 1 brush and put in the distant conifers through the mist. Soften any edges with a damp 6mm (¼in) flat brush if they become too harsh. Wash and blot the brush again and use it to lift out colour to create wisps of mist.
Wet the area behind the right-hand bank and apply a mix of Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine, taking it down to the water and fading it off into the mist above. Define the edges of the lighter bank using negative painting. Drop in Yellow Ochre while the grey is wet. Soften the top edge of the lighter bank with a damp brush.
how to paintâ€Ś waterfalls
While the background is wet, use the no. 1 rigger and a strong mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to describe the background trees.
Use the side of the brush and the same mix to create texture on the rock on the right-hand bank, then straight away drop in Cadmium Yellow Pale for lichen.
Using the same brush, paint negatively behind the rock in the right-hand bank with Burnt Umber, to make it stand out.
Mix a pale grey from Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine and use the no. 4 round brush to paint negatively, suggesting misty tree trunks behind the main trees on the left. These are not included in the pencil drawing. Change to the no. 1 rigger and paint the trees further forward with a stronger mix of the same colours.
Use the no. 7 brush to paint Yellow Ochre on the left-hand bank, then while this is wet, drag down a mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber with the brush on its side. Define the edges of the bank. Drop in more Yellow Ochre.
Dampen the bank behind this one and darken the edge with the no. 7 brush and a mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. Drop in Cadmium Yellow Pale to suggest moss
Use the same brush and a weaker mix of the same grey to define the pool by suggesting the waterline.
Use the no. 4 brush to paint the rocks in the pool with a dark mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. Continue into the banks on the right.
Suggest fallen leaves on the top of the left-hand bank with Cadmium Orange, then a mix of Cadmium Red and Burnt Umber.
HOW TO PAINTâ€Ś WATERFALLS
Did you know?
After applying wet paint to your wet background, adding extra drops of water can help dilute colour further and create highlights
Use the no. 10 brush to drag down a mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to darken the tone of the bank and bring it forwards. Change to the no. 1 rigger and use the same mix to describe fracture lines in the rock and hint at vegetation protruding from it.
Use the no. 1 rigger and a dark mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to paint the delicate branchwork of this right-hand tree.
Strengthen the background behind the right-hand tree with the no. 4 brush and French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. Use the no. 10 brush to paint the area in the lower right-hand corner of the painting with Yellow Ochre.
Rub off the masking fluid from the right-hand trees. Use the no. 4 brush to paint foliage with Cadmium Orange, then Cadmium Yellow Pale, allowing the yellow to run into the orange in places. Continue painting foliage with touches of Burnt Umber.
Remove the masking fluid from the left-hand tree and use the no. 2 brush to paint the foliage, using the same sequence of colours as in step 17. Change to the rigger brush to paint the branchwork as for the right-hand tree.
Wet the area to the left of the cascade with the no. 7 brush and touch in a pale wash of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to define the edge. Soften with a damp brush. Strengthen the rocky edge of the bank on the right with a stronger mix of the same colours and drop in Cadmium Yellow Pale.
Paint a very weak mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber on to the lower tree trunks and drop in Cadmium Yellow Pale at the bottom.
Paint the foreground pool with the no. 10 brush and a mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber, sweeping across and leaving speckles of white. Use a damp 13mm (1/2â€?) flat brush to lift out some colour with horizontal strokes. While this is wet, put in dark reflections and pull out ripples with the flat of the brush.
Tear a piece of card or spare watercolour paper to form a paper mask and use a sponge to lift out a rock shape at the bottom left. Blot the rock with paper tissue then use the no. 7 brush with French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber to paint the rock, and drop in Cadmium Yellow Pale to suggest lichen.
how to paint… waterfalls
Paint a wash of Burnt Umber and French Ultramarine over the righthand bank to suggest texture. Do not add too much detail towards the edges of the painting as you want the eye to be drawn to the focal point rather than here. Paint a little vegetation with a strong mix of Burnt Umber.
Reinforce the rock at the water’s edge with French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. Add fracture lines with the point of the brush. Wet the area of water below this and paint in the reflection with the same mix. Suggest texture and fracture lines in the rock at the bottom left with a pale mix of the same colours.
This is an extract from David Bellamy’s Skies, Light & Atmosphere in Watercolour, published by Search Press. Turn to page 31 to find out how to order a copy for just £9.99 with free P&P.
Wet the central background area and extend the negatively painted tree trunks upwards with French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber. Accentuate the mist by adding darker shades behind it. Soften any hard lines with a damp brush. Add the hint of a distant bank.
The finished painting. At the final stage, I added a little texture to the area at the bottom right with Burnt Umber and Cadmium Red.
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