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October 5, 2018

Sketchbook Skool Week 3: Playing with Gouache

I bought tubes of Winsor Newton Artist Grade Gouache in September 2012 - and squeezed out paint into a new palette.  I quickly learned that they flaked, and came out of the wells easily when they dried making them not portable. 

This week our Sketchbook Skool artist Jennifer Orkin Lewis ("August Wren"), an illustrator, showed us how she used gouache and watercolor paints interchangeably and together, adding other layers to either a wet or dry layer.  My 2012 tubes of gouache were dried out, but several months ago I bought myself a 12 color set of Pelikan pan gouache.  Here are my color mixing studies that I did for homework. 

Pelikan Set of 12 Gouache:  Samples of the 12 colors on the top left.  An opacity test on the bottom left.  Mixing studies on the right, from top to bottom: 1 and 2: yellow and yellow ochre in the center, with progressive addition of 2 blues; 3 and 4:vermillion red  and magenta red in the center with the addition of two blues, and finally 5 and 6: yellow and yellow ochre in the center with the addition of the two reds. 

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Testing combinations of paints:  Watercolor and gouache over samples of dry gouache or watercolor; watercolor and gouache mixed on palette;  gouache over dry gouache; and gouache mixed with Chinese white to increase the opacity. 

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September 24, 2018

Watercolor Rules: Week 1 Ian Sidaway

I am taking the new Sketchbook Skool class called Watercolor Rules.  Ian Sidaway, an amazing watercolor artist from England, was the teacher for the first week, and he was brilliant as he presented everything you always wanted to know about watercolor paints, palettes, brushes, and paper. 

I started this journey with artist grade watercolors in 2005.  I used a list of two recommended triads of primary colors from a book by Anne Elsworth, and just started playing with them. It was years before I actually took a class in watercolor painting and that fits with my personality.  Below is the very first page I did, testing my 6 new small tubes of Winsor Newton paint.  Three were listed as cool and three warm. 

First Winsor Newton Artist Quality Watercolor Paints

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Three years and many sketchbook paintings later, I decided to replace the opaque cadmium paints with almost transparent ones - Scarlet Lake for Cadmium Red and New Gamboge for Cadmium Yellow. 

Although you can make grays and browns with the above 6 primary paints, Cathy Johnson, another wonderful watercolor artist, says that she keeps "convenience colors" on her palette, so she doesn't always have to mix them.

I also read about a different triad of primary colors on Danny Gregory's Everyday Matters Yahoo Group many years ago : the Velasquez triad (also called the "dead triad").  It consists of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and ultramarine blue.  Since I already used ultramarine blue, I replaced it in this triad with Payne's gray which is a beautiful dark blue.  Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue also make many different, beautiful grays. 

This is my 12 color palette that I've used since early 2008 - 3 primary color triads and 3 convenience colors.

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Ultramarine Blue is considered a warm color and Winsor Blue a cool color, and although I know this intellectually, my eyes never agreed.  In answer to a question from our class, Ian Sidaway said to figure it out yourself for your own paints.  When you mix all cool colors, or all warm colors, the colors are brighter.   Just mix secondary colors - orange, green, and purple - to see if you are mixing two pigments of the same type or mixing a cool with a warm. 

Since I made many color wheels over the years, tested both the opacity/transparency, and lifting qualities of my paints, I decided to explore Ian's suggestion re: warm-warm, warm-cool, and cool-cool mixtures. 

Here are my 4 test strips, all done on strips of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press, the watercolor paper I bind in my books.  One of my yellows, or one of my reds, was painted in the center.  I then gradually added my two blues, with Ultramarine Blue to the left and Winsor Blue to the right. I like mixing colors, and always just mix them on my palette to get the colors I want for a painting.  This won't change my methods, but it is fun to see the many colors I can make. 

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In August, an acquaintance of mine, watercolor artist Marilyn Rose, taught a free 2 hour watercolor class at Bryant Park in NYC.  I used my own 12 paint palette to create the end of class painting we did to practice color mixing.

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Mixing watercolor paints is addictive.  After doing the strips in the image above, I decided to add my 3rd triad (Yellow Ochre Pale, Burnet Sienna, and Payne's Gray).  Then I had one more strip left and mixed my original yellows and reds with Paynes Gray.  When I saw the 6 strips together I couldn't resist one photo showing all of the colors I can make with 3 triads of primary colors.

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I was thrilled to just see that the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum has a new exhibit on COLOR through  mid-January for anyone who lives in, or near NYC - or will be visiting during the holidays.  See Link below.

https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/saturated/ 

Note: Two of the older images already appeared in a blog post in August 2018, reviewing the class with Marilyn Rose. 

 

September 4, 2018

Sketchbook Skool WHIMSICAL Weeks 4 and 5

Miriam Bos is an illustrator and her paintings are used for books, magazines, fabric, ceramics, and greeting cards, etc.  It was fun learning about her creative process, and for our homework we were asked to create a book character and draw at least 3 emotions. 

I have fun watching squirrels trying to sneak the seeds from the bird feeders at our friends' home in Martha's Vineyard.  There were two who climbed the nearby tree, took flying leaps to the conical top of the iron pole holding multiple bird feeders, and almost never were successful.  I called a squirrel with an orange tail "Spas" because he would try to climb down the pole, lose his footing, scramble trying to hold on, and then fall to the ground. 

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What I Learned About Character Development in WHIMSICAL:  In Miriam's demo video she showed us her method for creating characters.  She obtains photo images of real animals from the internet, and then traces them to start the process.  After she learns about their structure and characteristics from tracing, she sets them aside and begins to draw many versions of the animals in different poses, and with different emotions.  She, like several of the other illustrators, said that they draw many before they find the character they like.  Mike Lowery said he drew almost a hundred before he found the "Carl the Duck" character he wanted. 

I started with tracings, and then drew at least 20 before I found these characters.  I had to paint one with an orange tail to remind me of the spastic squirrel I loved at the bird feeder. 

Vanessa Brantley-Newton is an illustrator of Children's Books, and her homework for us was to create a collage inspired by one of 3 words: Joyous, Dangerous, and Ridiculous. 

For my collage I decided to go back to the first moment that my characters Axel and Alice saw the characters in the hooded long coat.   The title of this collage is DANGEROUS?

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Axel was created during a Sketchbook Skool homework assignment by Fabio Consoli.  We had to intereract and draw with a child, and I created Axel, and then later Alice.  The top painting is the original homework painting. The character on the right was created by my Grandson Zach, and then I reacted to the robot creating the rest of the painting.  The bottom watercolor was done as a final project for a watercolor illustration class at FIT. 

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If I hadn't fractured my wrist on my dominant hand in March, I would have finished the comic book project about Axel and Alice for my FIT Spring semester class on Comic Book Illustration.  Someday....

 

 

August 17, 2018

Sketchbook Skool WHIMSICAL Homework for Anna Denise Floor

Anna Denise Floor has beautiful watercolor journals of her family life.  Early in her project she started to develop layouts for her pages and showed us the five major 2 page spreads she uses as guidance.  She draws from her imagination, capturing special moments of life, and I really enjoyed her sketchbook tour in our Whimsical Class.  Our homework was to use her "storyboard layout" and show 5 things about us.  We were supposed to limit our pages to two colors, and I really didn't want to do that.  So here is my full homework spread - photographed whole because it is too big for my scanner - and two "half" pages which I scanned with overlaps. 

 

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Left Side of Page:  I illustrated and wrote about 1. my MD degree and my career, 2. Bookbinding to make watercolor sketchbooks that are the size and paper I like,  My life as a 3. Quilter and 4. Seamstress. 

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Right Side of Spread: Repeat of 3. Quilter and 4. Seamstress, and 5. Drawing and Painting in watercolor sketchbooks.  I included my imaginary characters Axel and Alice because they first appeared in my imagination and homework for Fabio Consoli's homework in the Sketchbook Skool class IMAGINING. 

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August 3, 2018

Sketchbook Skool WHIMSICAL - Week 2

Mike Lowery, graphic designer and Children's Book Illustrator, was the artist teacher for week 2 of Whimsical.  He did several demos online, and after each one he suggested that we try the same techniques. 

Shapes  His lifetime goal is to draw for 30 minutes every day, and when he stares at the blank white page, with no ideas, he uses a fat marker to make shapes, and then draws around them.  These are mine.  I loved this 5-10 minute exercise!  I know that the Christmas Tree costume would never originate in my imagination except through an exercise like this.

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Portraits:  Mike was drawing Richard Owen, the man who created the name "dinosaur," for a children's book on dinosaurs.  He used an actual photo and simplified the portrait to match the style of his illustrations.  I used a photo of Albert Einstein for my simplified drawing.  The blue color is due to marker leakage through to this next page in my sketchbook. 

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Developing a Story Character:  Mike was developing an animal character for a special project and showed us how he created a duck named Carl The Duck.  It took many steps and drawings for him to develop a duck with personality.  This is my first iteration of a character - a squirrel - still to be worked on to develop a squirrel with personality.   If I don't ever arrive there, I wanted to post step 1.

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Icons:  Mike showed us pages of icons he developed, and for our homework asked us to develop a page of icons - 10, 20, or even 150.  I chose to draw my favorite kitchen tools, even though I really need experience drawing icons for cars and taxis - to feel more confident about adding them to urban sketches of NYC. 

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