Sunday, July 14, 2013

Forbidden Fruit Demonstration


Over the years I’ve had an opportunity to work with Daniel Smith Art Supplies. They have a wonderful selection of artist materials including their own line of artist grade watercolors. Many of their watercolors are favorites of mine and always on my palette. Recently they started carrying the Stillman and Birn Sketchbooks...a favorite of mine. I wrote them a note and told them how happy I was to hear this. They asked if I would do a demonstration in the sketchbook using all Daniel Smith watercolors….I said YES!
They created a nice watercolor set. Included are the eight paint colors I used in the demonstration and the Heritage 18 well palette. 


DEMONSTRATION
Pomegranates are a reoccurring theme in my artwork. Every characteristic of the fruit has come to symbolize something to me in its shape, color, seeds and juice. Throughout history the pomegranate is a symbol of humanities fundamental beliefs and desires including life and death, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity.
For this demonstration I am using the Stillman and Birn, Beta Hardbound Sketchbook. It’s perfect to take everywhere in either my purse or sketch bag. I love their hardbound sketchbooks because they open completely flat. The Beta Series has a wonderful surface that responds superbly to watercolor. Before I use the sketchbook for the first time I open the book and bend the covers way back a few times. This won’t hurt the book and helps relax the spine so it will lay flat. No more trying to paint in the valley of a two page spread! An additional advantage, it fits perfectly on a standard home scanner.
My preferred way to work is from life. If I wish to truly understand light, shadows and form nothing compares to observing with my own eyes. There is no greater teacher than observations. This applies whether my subject matter is flora, architecture, landscape or people. The image was drawn from life and the photo as a gentle reminder that a camera has one eye and no brain. It is my job as an artist to put life into my work and I’m a firm believer in rearranging elements to develop a stronger image. A good rule of thought is, don't record what you see, tell me what you want me to see.

Step #1
Step #1 Line Drawing
I draw directly with a waterproof Pitt Pen M (no preliminary pencil). I am fond of drawing with pen in my sketchbooks and rarely use pencil. I’ve found that I have a tendency to be less observant when I use a pencil for the simple fact I know I can erase it. Just knowing that pen can’t be erased forces me to observe longer before I put pen to paper. If I don’t paint the pen sketch the drawing has a finished quality compared to a pencil drawing. Here I have used continual line contour drawing. It's the fastest and most accurate way to draw and I love the look. I will periodically lift my pen off the paper but for the most part I don't. I like drawn borders on my sketches. A white border has a nice presentation and a finished look.

Step #2
Step #2
I start by painting the pomegranate in the foreground. I believe in mixing colors on the paper as much as possible. I start by creating two large puddles, one of Permanent Alizarin Crimson and another of Quinacridone Gold. I use Permanent Alizarin Crimson to paint the entire sphere shape of the pomegranate, but before it has a chance to dry I had a touch of Quinacridone Gold towards the top. Once dry I add more Permanent Alizarin Crimson towards the bottom and a touch of Lunar Black. I love the effects I get with Lunar Black because it doesn’t dull the colors like most blacks. It simply adds a wonderful textural quality. It’s perfect for the look I want! The paper is heavyweight and I am able to work wet into wet without the paper warping. Now I paint the crown portion with Quinacridone Gold. When it dries I paint the cast shadow with Permanent Alizarin Crimson and a touch of Lunar Black.

Step #3
Step #3
I paint the two other pomegranates using the same painting technique and the same three paints: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Gold and Lunar Black. I add a little Italian Burnt Sienna to the upper pomegranate for variety in color. Next I paint the leaves. Greens can be troublesome to most painters. I’ve found the most believable greens are mixed and not directly out of a tube (when I use a tube green I always introduce another color into it). To make greens I create puddles in the center of my palette with Cobalt Blue, Hansa Yellow Light, Cobalt Teal Blue, and Quinacridone Gold (clockwise from the top left). I let the edges of each paint puddle touch and mingle. Now I have a puddle with a large variation of greens. With each brush load I have a varied green. Every once in a while I put a touch of Permanent Alizarin Crimson in the leaves before they dry. The addition of Permanent Alizarin Crimson gives the illusion of reflective color from the pomegranate and warms up the greens.

Step #4
Step #4
I finish painting the leaves and small branches. I darken the middle pomegranate with Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Lunar Black. Once the paint is completely dry I lift a couple highlights on the pomegranates. The Beta paper is internally and externally sized which makes the surface very forgiving. With a soft brush and clean water I gently stroke the surface to loosen the paint. I then use a dry towel to blot off the paint. The paper is heavy and handles lifting easily without damaging the surface.

Step #5


Step #5
I begin to paint the area behind the pomegranates. I paint with a light wash of Cobalt Blue on the upper section. I carefully paint around the pomegranates but I allow the wash to go over many of the leaves. I don't want the leaves to look cutout and the wash helps to unify the area, push some of the leaves back and bring others forward. This area will gradually get darker with glazes. By using transparent colors and building up the darks with glazes I am able to achieve lively, rich darks. I enjoy the process of painting with multiple glazes of color. It’s important to let each glaze dry thoroughly before proceeding.
Step #6
Next I apply another glaze of greens. I want this glaze to be deeper and richer in color and value. I am using Italian Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold and Phthalo Blue (GS) (clockwise from the top). I pull the three colors into the center of my palette and allow the edges to touch and mingle slightly. I focus on the area directly behind the pomegranates. I am careful to let some of the prior glazes show through. I begin to suggest addition leaf shapes with negative painting.

Step #6
Step #7
Now is the fun part when I can add the darks! I am still using Italian Burnt Sienna and Phthalo Blue (GS) for my greens but the puddle is darker this time. As I paint I am suggest more leaves with negative painting. I am also dropping in pure color into wet areas. Near the upper left corner you can see the addition of Permanent Alizarin Crimson added while the area was still damp. It adds a bit of sparkle and warmth to a dark passage of greens. The final touch is a little splatter to break up the white paper.


In closing...
Most watercolor paintings start out looking the same; it’s the final marks that say who we are. What's my identifying mark? I would say my work is identifiable by how I draw, handle transparent glazes and negative painting. 

 
Happy Sketching!
Brenda 

25 comments:

  1. Brenda thank you for being so generous with your amazing talent. I have lurked here often and think your blog to be one of the best there is. Your artwork is pretty amazing too! :) I have learned a lot from reading what you post, have re-arranged my palette, bought an 18 well Heritage palette and prepared a pack for sketching on location all inspired by your many wonderful posts. It amazes me that you do it all but so thankful that you do. I love all the work you do and your collage pieces are brilliant. :) :) I'm looking forward to Splash 14. Many blessings always.

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    1. Ross, Thank you for the kind words! Yes, the blog is time consuming but when I receive message like yours it fuels my fire as a teacher...thank you!
      Happy Sketching!

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  2. This is a fascinating post. Love to see the progress, and love the finished painting. Because of your love of these books I have managed to find them in the uk (Martine Petite told me where I could get them) I am trying the Zeta. Can't wait for the postman to bring it. I hope I will be able to paint like you then!!!!! (pigs might fly)

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    1. Polly, The Beta works great with traditional watercolor and mixed media, the Zeta is like hot press and the pen slides across the surface. I'm like a kid at Christmas time waiting for art supplies to arrive!Hope you like the sketchbooks,too!

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  3. Great to see the steps and progress here! Thanks for sharing this educational post.

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  4. Your posts are so informative and inspiring! I look forward to each one and read them each several times. Thank you!

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    1. Susan, I love to hear that!!! Thank you

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  5. I know this takes a ton of time to draw, photo, mix, photo, and etc and then to post.
    ALL for free.
    This is such a sharing, Brenda. You are THE best.
    I have been really totally changed since your workshop...well not totally (hahaha) but have truly been inspired to try new things and to REALLY look at objects when I paint.
    Thanks again.

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    1. Ginny, You are so right! I'm almost embarrassed when I think how long it takes me to paint, photograph, write, edit... I may not be fast but I get the job done. The response I get from people like you makes all worth while. Thank you!
      You are a wonderful painter. You brought so much skill, wisdom, experience, encouragement...to the workshop. A pleasure to have in the workshop.
      Happy Sketching!

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  6. Thank you so much, Brenda, for taking the time to provide this demo. I really enjoyed working through it when you posted about it on Facebook (my version at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stacycreates/9294850716/). You've inspired me to learn about negative painting, and I've worked through your October 2010 demo (daisies) and plan to work on the March 2012 demo (pomegranites). Thank you so much for your generosity in providing these!

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  7. Brenda, are you able to weigh the sketchbook for us??? I'm taking a group of painters to Venice in October and want them to bring a sketchbook with them even though we'll mostly paint on an Arches Block. If you can't weigh it, just let me know if you think it'll be easy to bring on an overseas trip please!? I appreciate the information!

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    1. Helen, When I travel I don't take blocks, too heavy! The Stillman & Birns sketchbooks with "Beta" paper is great ,cold press surface, heavy weight, don't warp, forgiving surface, lift easily... They come in many sizes, spiral binding, and hardbound. Great books! Here is a link to their website. http://www.stillmanandbirn.com/

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  8. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this for us. I know how much time this takes and it is truly appreciated!I can't wait to try out some of these paints and give it a go.

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  9. Hi Brenda, here's another thank you from an appreciative reader.
    Last week I got an email from Daniel Smith featuring this tutorial with their sale on the watercolors you used to paint it, plus the palette.
    I set it aside as a "keeper" and ta-da! here you have it! So now I know where to find it always, this is just such a great instructional read.
    Thank you again.....
    Actually, if it's OK, I'll print it off and add it to one of my copies of your books? I'm asking first.....

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    1. Susie, Glad you think it's a "keeper". I was really happy how the steps worked out. Sometimes demos go astray. I don't mind printing when it's solely for a persons tutorial.Thank you for asking :)
      Happy Sketching!

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  10. Really enjoyed reading your post so clearly explaining your process, love pomegranates to paint as they are not always pretty or uniform in the real and offer great variety to capture them. Love your painting

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    1. Lorraine, I don't think I'll ever tire of painting pomegranates...my favorite too!

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  11. Brenda:
    You are one who pays it forward with love and generosity that most people are not willing to do without payment. I'd love to take one of your workshops, but can't drive alone to where you are. This is the next best thing! I can't thank you enough for the time and effort involved in posting to your blog. Your rewards will be many for this generosity which is very much appreciated.

    Thank you for all you do.

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    1. Joan, Thank you for the kind and encouraging words. You're a sweetie...Hugs!

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  12. I think of all the books and DVDs on watercolor painting and sketching that I have, yours have done the most to inspire me to keep colors fresh, mix on the paper, and preserve light. Even though it is much larger than my usual sketch kit, I was inspired to try the Heritage palette by your DVD and LOVE it! All that mixing area is so useful. And despite tending toward a more limited palette, deciding which 18 colors to put in it was a challenge--had to make some hard choices (probably a clue that I am hoarding too many tubes of paint in my stash). Finally, the S&B Betas are so wonderful. I love mine. Best sketchbooks ever for the watercolorist.

    Thank you so much for this demo and for so generously sharing your watercolor and sketching expertise.

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    1. Carole, Thank you for the nice comment and words of praise. Your artwork is wonderful! I have enjoyed your beautiful book.I have chuckled and wiped away a tear many times...a treasure.
      Some of the collage papers you sent has ended up pasted on blank pages in my sketchbook. The color and texture look like Italy and will work beautifully as a toned surface to paint on. Thank you! Happy Painting!

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    2. You have a genuine love for watercolor painting. Your work shows it. I've been working in the same medium for a couple of decades now and I have always admired your work.

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