Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Beginners class notes 30th Jan 2018

In this week's class we continued to paint dark to light layers on our hills, we learned more about how much pigment and water to use on our brushes to control the pigment flow, fast and far = more water.
slow and not so far = less water.
We wanted each hill in turn to be darker tun the one behind it, this shows tonal perspective, so we need to use more pigment very time we did the next hill down.
We also know, that if we don't like what we've done, we can leave it to dry, and re do the wash over the last one, however, it's best to try to get the 1st wash right, if it runs took far then we wash from the bottom upwards in horizontal strikes till we touch, and overlap the pigment line a little, remembering not to pull the pigment back down again.
Some of you asked how much you need to paint in the first wash, I said not much actually if you don't want to, and you can do many layers, this takes the pressure of your first wash, if you want to see a painting in progress film I made which illustrates the many layers you can apply, and how simple the 1st wash can be, go to video's on my website and look up, 'Summer breeze' you may be able to locate it through this link
Whilst we were waiting for each hills wash to dry, we practiced what I call % mixing on paper, this was to be used when it came to the line of trees.
I think washes are much more beautiful, when multiple colours are used and when we allow the water to do the mixing for us, alternatively, we can get really interesting neutrals when we we push these paints round the pear 100% creating very interesting neutrals, see the exercise with the 2 trees in orange and blue, that the improvers are doing, the blues have green and orange in them and the orange has blues and greens, but in such small amounts as not to overwhelm the dominant colour, but enough to make the dominate colour more interesting ( harmonious )

In the exercise below we use 3 colour cadmium red, yellow and ultramarine blue.
In the 0% mixed column we put all 3 colours on a clear wash, keeping them separate and cleaning our brush out each time, and if the application was wet enough, the colours should mix them selves to some extent by gravity alone, we didn't dab this, but used a few brush marks with the flat side of the brush, 
We repeated this exercise for column 2 and 3, but pushed the paint round more in 2 and 100% on column 3.
This is a good demonstration of how to create interesting intense, semi neutral, and neutrals, whilst knowing how to avoid pushing the paint around if we don't want it too neutral.

 A % mixing exercise resulting in a ping 100% mixed neutral by using more red than blue, however all 3 colours are present, and we found this bias very different in each of our exercises, the trick for the tree line on the hills exercise, was to keep the bias more green, buy using the red sparsely and using predominant blue and yellow

 Next week we will attempt the boats in mist scene, consolidating what we know about about % mixing on paper, and how much water used on the brush to get finer lines wet in wet.


last week in the improvers class it was mooted that we might visit some basic application exercises, as we felt we needed to get to grips with how much pigment to pick up to get our washes dark enough, and how to stop our pigmented washes from not running too far, and how to stop pools of pigment dribbling down the painting when we lifted our brushes off,
so, instead of moving on to our planned still life, we turned to painting this hills painting which was similar to what the beginners were doing but with more colour mixing.

This exercise addresses all of the issues above, as we were working from pale to darker washes as we moved to the next mountain range in front.
As our paints had by now dried in our palette, we had to work at them a little harder to get the pigment out of them than when they were wet, but for the back mountain range we wanted it pale, so we worked it less.

To get the top of the mountain hard edged bleeding into a soft mist below,  ( and the sky ) we painted a very wet clear wash starting from below the pencil line mountain below that, and after practicing bleed ( pigment travelling ) distances by using a drier and a wetter brush when applying pigment, we applied a pale fairly dry pigment wash for the top of the back hill, so that the pigment wouldn't travel very far or fast, we gauged the water ratio on the brush by drying slightly on kitchen roll, and testing the wetness in the palette before applying, we did this on practice strips before hand, getting thick and thin lines.

We lifted the brush off at the apex of the hill, so the execs water and pigment from the brush could run down the middle raher than the side, making it easier to mop up after drying the brush slightly and running it along the bottom of the pigment line, however, it is preferable to lit the brush off beyond the edge of the paper if possible where runs don't matter, as the painting can be cropped with in the run marks.

Some of us applied yellow and pink to the sky in the same ratio as the blue.

We used a wetter brush for the next hill down with more pigment once the background had dried.
We painted in the trees on last week's exercise between washes drying, using the colours from the background, but with a bias on either blue, or red orange, keeping holes in the trees for the sky to show through.

The 3rd hill down was darker and wetter still as we wanted tonal perspective, i.e things appearing darker the closer they are to you, and also, because it was bigger we could allow more bleed, and so we used more water when applying pigment, we added a bit of yellow too underneath the blue, ( cleaned brush out of this ) and for those of us who's pigment ran too far, we applied another  clear wash below the pigment line, and moved it from one edge of the painting and back again horizontally working up to the pigment line and into it, to lift off the excess pigment.

For the 4th hill in the foreground we used blue, yellow, and a hint of red, in exactly the same way we did the % mixing exercise, see previous weeks blog for that, as we can see more colour in objects closer to us, and to make the painting more interesting to look at. some of us used too much red too soon, rather than using a small amount towards the end of the blue & yellow wash to create purple, and more neutral green's, see below, you can barely make out the red, but it makes this otherwise yellow / blue / green more interesting and varied than it would otherwise be.
We pulled out the pigment for the trees whilst the wash was still wet.
Next week we will create near black using red blue and yellow, for the front ling of trees in the foreground, this will help us to beat up enough pigment to get really dark darks.

Next week, we will be painting this boats in mist scene, as I feel we need to get to grips with colour mixing on the paper, in both high and low definition, that is fat and thin lines using more, and less water on the bush.

Some of you asked how much you need to paint in the first wash, I said not much actually if you don't want to, and you can do many layers, this takes the pressure of your first wash, if you want to see a painting in progress film I made which illustrates the many layers you can apply, and how simple the 1st wash can be, go to video's on my website and look up, 'Summer breeze' you may be able to locate it through this link

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

23rd Jan 2018 intermediates class home help

This week following on from % mixing and painting the colour wheel, where we were exploring intense and semi neutral colours, this week we were exploring mixing semi neutrals with 4 colours 
Cad red, cad yellow, 
pthalo blue
ultramarine blue 
Hookers green.
See the exercise below, each painting contains a mix of all 4 colours, but in unequal quantities, on the left, the painting has a dominant blue, and a subordinate yellow, the opposite is true of the painting on the right, but the only intense, unmixed colours are in the sky in the middle, the reason for this is to make the intense colours 'sing' ( a ) by being complimentary ( opposite on the colour wheel ) and making most of the rest of the painting semi neutral, i.e mixed with their complimentary colours.

By making our focal point different from the rest of our colours makes the centre sky line of the painting the lead vocal, and the rest of the painting singing in harmonies, but adding all these colours together, gives us more subtle harmonies that just using 1 blue or prance, see smaller thumbnails below that, the sky line is still 'singing' i.e it stars out, but the colours are not very beautiful or interesting to look at.

Some of us need more practice at application, so I will suggest looking at the beginners exercises for this week on this blog, or if you want a beginners film, you can look me up on art tutor .com
here's a link

But here's a few tips from this week.
remember not to lift your brush off the paper she you don't want a pool to run down your picture, take it off the side of the paper, or, dry your brush out and mop it up from below, remember, surface water consistency can be best achieved by limiting your painting time, so lower the expectations you have for the 1st wash, let go of the outcome to some extent, wait for it to dry, and have another go later.

If you are mixing 4 colours together with the aim of 1 colour being dominant, don't clean your brush out with the dominant colour, just add a tiny amount of another colour and mix that separately in the palette to achieve a slight change, too much and you'll end up with a rainbow effect.

Good luck with your home practice and I'll see you next week. : )

23rd Jan 2018 beginners watercolour class

This week the beginners were learning how to paint a gradated wash, from intense / dark to pale, this is in preparation for merging colours at a later stage, and getting used to controlling the pigment flow by how much water and pigment is on the brush, remember, the paper need to be very wet, but we can have the pigment run less fast and far, by mixing our colour with a slightly drier brush separately from the last pigment pool in our palette, we don't want to pick up water from the last mix.

Also we learned, that we need to stop painting above the area we want covered, because the pigment will continue to travel downwards.
So we need to have a wide margin of clear wash, as we discovered, that the pigment flow reached the edge of our clear wash creating an unwanted hard line, so I would say clear wash at least 3 or 4 inches beyond the area you want your pigment to flow to.
See the hills painting below, if we allowed the pigment to flow below the hill in front of it, there would be no bank of mist.

We also needed to remember, not to take our brush off the surface of the paper whilst we are painting, either take your brush off the edge at the side, or take it up to the peak of the mountain before lifting off, as you know, when you lift your brush off the painting it usually leaves a pool of water, which then runs down the paper, if it's still running down from the peak, clean your brush out, dry it a little and wash upwards ( from side to side ) towards the pigment from underneath the colour, keep repeating this till you have mopped up your flood.

We painted the back 2 hill in this painting below, but we needed it to be very pale, so not much pigment, and not too much water, to limit the flow, when you have filled in the top of the hill, you can paint up to the pencil marks to tidy up the edges before lifting off at the peak.
next week, we will repeat the exercise with each hill, but please do practice your gradated washes on your hills at home on a separate practice sheet, try aiming at the pigment flow stopping at the crevice between 2 hills.
We will then move on to mixing other colours on the paper for the line of trees.

Below is a more advanced painting with gradated washes going from dark to light but using a limited palette of other colours, but before we move on to something like this we must master doing dark to light with 1 colour.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


The first week's watercolour class for both beginners and improvers started with a pigment to water ratio series of blobs, ranging from pale to intense ( bright and in this case dark ), in equal increments, the object of this exercise is to know how much pigment to use in relation to water to get the desired intensity onto the paper, it's not always easy to get the ratio correct, see the painting of the dog below, the colours in this painting are intense ( bright )
The colours in this painting below are mostly pale neutral, and would require less pigment on the brush.
The first video is a demonstration of pigment to water ratio blobs.

Remember, the sequence goes like this, water pigment palette paper, then pigment palette paper, and always mix your pigment in a small area and separately in the palette each time, this is to avoid picking up more water from a previous mix, and always mix your colours in a small area so you are not depositing more pigment on the palette than necessary. If your pigment are fresh from the tube they will be wet, so you must add tiny amounts to build up the intensity ( brightness gradually with each blob, if you have a blob that has gone too dark / intense too quickly, then clean your brush out, dry it a little on some kitchen roll, and manoeuvre your brush over the blob to lift out the excess pigment and start again.

The next exercise was to paint a colour wheel, 
The value of painting a colour wheel is firstly to consolidate what you know about pigment to water ratio, as I want you to paint all the 12 segments at medium intensity, and practice your application to avoid streaks, ( see a previous video on wash application ) but also this will teach you about colour mixing, so you can understand what colours are intense ( bright ) and what colours are neutral ( dull )see above. This colour wheel was designed by artists to help you understand which colours look good together, have another look at the painting of the dog, these colours are pleasing to the eye because they have been chosen carefully, the colour wheel can help you to achieve this, but again, more on that later.

So, start by drawing a circle and dividing into 12 segments, this is made easier if you draw a cross through the centre, and draw a V shape inside each quarter, so that you have 3 segments in each quarter, please write the terminology next to each segment, where it says primary, secondary and tertiary, primary colours are unmixed with other colours, so we will use cadmium red, cadmium yellow, and ultramarine blue, start by painting in primary red, remember pigment palette paper, so we can see how intense the colour is in the palette before applying to the paper, clean your brush out and paint in your primary yellow, don't wash this yellow off your brush, but use it to pick up some of the red pigment in your palette to create an orange in the secondary segment, you are aiming at creating an orange that looks exactly half way between the red and the yellow, don't clean your brush out, use the orange on your brush to paint in the tertiary sections next to the red and yellow, you are aiming at creating a red orange, and a yellow orange, again, try to make them look half way between their neighbours, do this by eye on your painting, and don't try to duplicate the colours on the image below.
Repeat this exercise creating greens and violets, however, you will find that using a combination of cadmium red and ultramarine will result in burgundy rather than the violet colours you see below. 
( if you want violets you must use a crimson, or pink pigment instead of Cad red )

to see a video demonstration of how to paint a colour wheel, click on this link

The film below is a demonstration of of a colour wheel which has already been started, note the alterations that need to be done to get the correct colour balance.

The exercise below is what I call a percentage mixing exercise, that is, how much to push the paint around on the paper, the object of this exercise is to know when to stop painting in order to preserve the amount of intensity you want in your watercolour, note the painting below is very neutral ( dull ) as opposed to the dog painting, the colours are just as beautiful, but not as intense ( bright ) this is not because the artist used only dull colours such as brown or grey, it is because the colours were pushed around on the paper more than in the dog painting, and like the tertiary colours on your colour wheel.

Try the exercise in the video below, put a clear wash down first in 1 column, using lots of water, and apply red yellow and blue in the way you see demonstrated, making sure to start you application so each colour is not overlapped by another colour, in the 1st column allow your pigments to mix themselves by gravity only, your board should be tipped at an angle so the pigment and water can run down the page.
The 2nd and 3rd column is started in the same way but in the 2nd you are going to push the pigments together a little resulting in more semi neutrals than on the 1st column, the 3rd column is pushed together 100% resulting in no visible intense colours, however you should have a more interesting neutral than if you had painted a column using only brown paint.
Please practice colour mixing at home, and also use plenty of water, see a previous post on painting a wash on how much water to use.

 to see the video of a demonstration of a % mixing exercise , click on this link

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Gilly will be starting a new beginners watercolour class on Wednesday the 25th of April 2018 from 10.00a.m. till 12.00pm

And there will be room on an improvers watercolours on Tuesday the 24th of April from 12.30-2.30.p.m. Contact gill@gilly-marklew.co.uk for further details

Beginners will be taken through basic application exercises whether absolute novices to those who have painted a little before, although Gilly will take into account what the student would like to learn, this applies to improvers also.
Classes will be at
NR15 2NU