Saturday, September 11, 2010

Demonstration: After Sunset

On a bit of a whim, I painted this giant watercolor painting of a couple strolling on the beach in the sunset.

Usually I buy 140# paper in large packs, but a while back I purchased a single sheet of 300# paper, so I could do a full sheet painting without having to stretch the paper. Several times I have chosen a subject to paint on this large sheet of paper, but never went through with it. At 22 x 30 inches, it seemed so huge! But a few days ago, I decided to finally do it. I had already decided I wanted to do a large beach scene in the glow just after sunset, using some photos I have from a trip to the beach a few years ago. At the last minute I decided to go really large, pulled out my 300# paper, and went for it! I'm glad I did; I think it looks pretty good. Below are photos with explanations of my process.

1.After I sketched in a rough design of the major elements of the painting with a pencil, I wet the entire paper with clear water. Then, using a large flat brush, I began painting the colors of the sky and sunset with cobalt blue, rose madder genuine, and quinacridone gold, overlapping the colors a little bit to encourage shades of purple and orange to appear as the colors spread into each other. The image reverses at the horizon line, (which I don't think you can see in this photo, but it's about 2/3 of the way down the page) so that the ocean is a mirror image of the sky.

2. In this photo, I am continuing to add layers of cobalt blue, rose madder, and quin. gold, also adding antwerp blue and paynes gray at the upper corners, until I achieved the values that I want in the sky and the reflection in the ocean.

Every time, before I lay down the colors, I wet the entire sheet with clear water. By the time I get to the bottom, the top has begun to loose it's sheen and is ready to lay in nice, smooth graduations of color.

3.Once I was satisfied with the colors of the sky and sunset, I started adding clouds and a few wave lines to the ocean. I also lightly placed in the shoreline, to serve as a visual aid to me. I won't darken it until later, but having it there helps me see what I'm doing, and where I'm going with it. (I need that kinda help, you see. ☺)
I used the same colors for all of these elements that I used for the background. But this time I mixed the cobalt blue and rose madder on my palate until I got a nice, deep, bluish-purple, then added quin. gold until I was satisfied with the gray I had made.

4. Here you can see I have simply continued adding darker mixtures of the same trio of colors to the clouds and ocean, trying to create shape to the clouds and suggest the direction of movement of the ocean.

When painting the clouds, first I wet the area of the cloud liberally with my large flat brush. Then I drop in puffy cloud shapes with a large round brush. I also have a paper towel or tissue all wadded up that I use to gently blot the paint and create further variation of values.

*Tip- When you're painting over an area that you have already painted, such as these clouds, make sure your previous layer is really dry, or it will smear. I frequently use a hairdryer to make sure my layers are good and dry.

5. I continued creating the waves in the ocean, using layers of different strengths of my color trio. For the dark shorelines I used winsor green, alizarin crimson, and lamp black. (The black wasn't all that necessary, by the way, but I'm low on winsor green.)

6.Still using the same color mixture I added more and darker layers to the clouds, wetting the area first with very clean water and keeping in mind their round, abstract shapes. I also continued to add depth to the waves with darker values, and started scrubbing and lifting out some foamy areas where the waves break. I put in a very light silhouette of the people walking to determine their shape and placement.

7.To finish the painting, I added seagulls to the sky, more scrubbing and lifting (with a fritch scrubber and a viva paper towel) to the sea foam, and I finished painting the people. I signed with a white gel pen, and I'm done! So... now I just have to figure out how to frame this big sucker!

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