You're painting....you're painting....Oops! Argh....watercolors are very unforgiving. Watercolors can be so rebellious sometimes, unlike those responsible mediums of acrylics and oils. I once even heard the famous Bob Ross say that he wouldn't touch watercolors b/c they were too hard for him! Acrylics and oils are so docile and obedient, staying put and blending oh-so-nicely.
Here's a little post on "fixing" some mistakes...also called lifting paint....from your painting. Yes, many times you feel like a sheep herder, herding all those little pigments where you want them to be, but it's worth it once you master it!
I painted these glass decorative balls that were hanging in a boutique window when my husband and I took a trip to New Bern, NC. We stayed in a cozy bed and breakfast and walked the seashore....it was a great weekend.
Anyhow, when I finished, I sat there looking at the painting and I just wasn't satisfied with it. It was lacking all of those interesting shapes that these glass balls tend to have and the glass seemed too dark. I decided to lift some paint off of the page with water and here's how to do it.
MAKE SURE YOUR PAINTING IS COMPLETELY DRY BEFORE YOU START LIFTING PAINT! :)
With water and a clean brush, dab the clean water on whatever part of the painting that you wish to lift the paint from. Work the bristles of the brush over the area with the water for a few second and then dab the area with a tissue.
The area where you placed the water should lighten up as the paint is lifted from the paper. Some colors of paint work better with being lifted than others and the darker or thicker the paint layer is, the better it will look when you lift the reflection off of it.
If you notice, I also lifted thin lines, swirls, circles and I softened some harsh edges on the spheres. I really wanted the glass spheres to appear luminous and transparent.
Lifting paint is a great trick to use in underbrush or tree paintings and to create light reflections on portraits or a still life.
Experiment by painting a dark shade on your paper, allowing it to dry and then lifting the color in this way. It's great fun.
This was the finished product and if you compare it with the picture above, you can really see how the light seems to be glowing through the glass with all of those fascinating little shapes reflecting in the light. Make your paintings glow with this technique!
Soon, I'll post some pics about lifting paint in foliage. Pick up your brushes today and do something creative!
I have been fascinated with painting watercolor portraits for a bit now. I took a Suzanna Winton class at the Arts of The Carolinas last fall and my hubby just got me her portrait book for mother's day (oh joy!)
I think that the biggest mistake that watercolor artists make with portraits is with putting too much pigment on the page too quickly. In Suzanna's class, I learned that every skin tone wash should be SUPER light. I'm not sure why that makes for a more luminous portrait, but it does. I highly recommend her book for all of you portrait people out there.
So, this is my first attempt at a portrait using the book and I was pretty pleased with the results. This little one is the daughter of Chloe's ballet teacher. I snagged her photo off of Facebook so that I could paint her portrait as a gift for the end of year performance. (hopefully, she doesn't read my blog before next Tuesday...I'm counting on her being too busy with ballet stuff....lol)
I probably shouldn't be blogging right at this moment about illustrations...considering that I'm behind in my deadline. It's hard to find a chunk of time to sit down and get a good portion of an illustration done. I have these little 15 or 20 minute slots of down time and it's not long enough to set up and paint. Oy. I have to say that I AM excited about the next book that is coming out this summer. It'll probably be in print this fall and my deadline for having the book illustrations done is July 1st. Eek.
I never actually thought that I'd be a children's book illustrator. It just kind of fell in my lap one day. A few years ago, I was trolling Craigslist and I came across an ad for an illustrator. Patrick Wynn was looking for an artist to illustrate his book Icky, Sticky Pancake World , a charming tale about 2 kids going on a dream adventure to a world made out of treats. On a whim, I answered the ad and after throwing together some sketches, Pat chose my work out of all his applicants. I had NEVER even touched a watercolor palette and after some thought, I decided to attempt to illustrate this book in watercolors. This book really was the beginning of my watercolor career. My first watercolor illustration was absolutely hysterical. I had no control over the colors, there was no color mixing....basically, I had no CLUE what I was doing.
After many attempts and a good bit of frustration, I finally started to understand the medium. It took about a year to get all of the illustrations done on this book and I do think that they came out cute, but they aren't even painted on decent watercolor paper! lol....looking back, it's amazing how much my style has changed.
Unfortunately, this book isn't in print yet. I hope to see it in print someday b/c I think it would do really well.
Well, through Patrick's influence, I decided to joint the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and I am SO glad that I did. It was through SCWBI that Judy Snider found me and contracted me to illustrate her adorable book, I Love You, Be Careful. Wow, what an experience! In three months, I had to complete a LOT of illustrations with accent illustrations, design and put together a cover, paint floral borders, etc....it was quite a job but it was well worth the effort that it took. Judy was amazing to work with and I can't even begin to say how thankful I am to have met and worked with her and her sister.
Now, I am illustrating...yes, the book that I'm behind on, The Gift by Bridget Knouse (who, for the record, has been VERY patient with me) It's a lovely story about adoption and how adopted children are literally a gift from God. As difficult as it has been to get this book done this year, I AM looking forward to seeing it in print.
I just wanted to compare how much my illustrating style has shifted over the last three years. Check it out.
This is from Icky, Sticky Pancake World...wow, my portrait style has dramatically changed. Plus, none of my colors are mixed, but I think it works out alright b/c children tend to like bright colors....Notice how I have no concept of darkest darks or mid-tones...it's all or nothing in the color scheme.
This is from I Love You, Be Careful. Notice how many more washes are used in this illustration. There's a lot more depth, more color mixing and more expression on the character's faces. I'm not saying that I've "arrived" as an illustrator....not by far....BUT there's some improvement.
This is one of my current illustrations from The Gift. I still sometimes struggle with illustrating small features on faces, but I think that my angle of approach has improved. In this illustration, you can see my darkest darks, mid-tones and lightest lights. The author wanted the bedtime story reading illustration to include their dog, which was a little tricky, but I finally found a position that I was comfortable with. For this book, I actually went to the author's house and photographed the family in various poses and situations b/c I wanted to capture the essence of what made this family so special.
Having had no training in illustrating, I admit that I'm kind of finding my own way, but where there's a will, there's a way, right? I do have moments of deep frustration, but I've also been blessed with moments of surprise when things have worked out.
I do want to encourage my readers....if I have any...lol....to feel free to call me or email me if you need help with art or illustrating. I would be MORE than happy to lend a hand or give some encouragement or advice to a fellow artist. Being self-taught has it's own struggles, but I know from experience that forging my own way has given me great confidence in the ability that we all inherently have to teach ourselves and succeed.
Was I scared when I first picked up my pencil to illustrate a book? Absolutely....petrified. I'd never done it before and I didn't know if I could.....don't let that stop you. You can do it!
"People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don't know when to quit. Most men succeed because they are determined to." George E. Allen
We just got back from a family reunion at Topsail beach. My aunt, mom, sister and I would sit down almost every day and paint a bit. I've never really been into painting landscapes or beach scenes, but I was inspired to attempt one this week. The water was so blue and the sky was simply gorgeous all week.
I started out with liquid frisket (or masking fluid) to preserve the white of the paper for the waves and the clouds. After wetting the entire page, I washed my colors on. After removing the frisket with an eraser, I softened the edges of the clouds and added more definition so that they weren't so stark. All in all, I was pleased with the result. It is so amazing when you're on the coast...the sky is ever shifting and changing and the ocean mimics the sky's mood.
I actually painted 2 beach scenes, but I wasn't pleased with the second one. We all sat down to attempt some freer floral scenes (and let our sunburns heal) and I really wanted to practice negative painting, so I painted this wildflower one. This one has some serious negative painting going on in it. It is useful, as a watercolorist, to continually practice negative painting since it's something that you'll always need to have in your back pocket and pull out once in awhile.
For this painting, I wet the entire page and dropped all of the colors on at once.....hooker's green, alizarin crimson, cobalt blue and new gamboge yellow....in differing combinations. After letting the page dry, I sketched out the flower shapes according to how the colors ran together and continued on from there, darkening up leaves and stems and painting all of the small shapes in varying shades and depths. It helped me to continually be sketching new shapes as I went along so that I wouldn't get lost. Shake on a tiny bit of salt while your page is wet and it will give you a slight dappled look. At the very end, I lifted some small circles in the darker colors.
BTW, if anyone has any naming ideas for these paintings, please let me know in the comments section...I'm terrible at naming my paintings.
I'm a wife and mother of four kids. I homeschool, paint, run, and garden! I am always interested in digging truths out of Scripture. Here, you'll find my thoughts on art, adoption, gardening, mothering, homeschooling, books and whatever else is on my mind. Enjoy!
Creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum - like skepticism, it's a means, not an end. It cries out for a theme. To treat creativity as an end in itself is to assume godlike character for humans as though they could create ex nihilo. -J. Cheane