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Old 01-22-2003, 06:53 PM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Smile WIP- Steps to a Bolder Quicker Watercolor Landscape

Well...I thought I'd share the process for one of my smaller quick landscape sketches or paintings. Risky in a sense, since I don't consider myself a watercolor proficiendo...not a traditionalist, just try to make images that work. Its just that many have asked questions, and the educator in me thinks its fair that if some can glean something from what I'm doing...then that's what counts.

Don't even know how this will turn out...but, why not?

To begin with....here's my reference image. It is on the Lake Superior national lakeshore, and I'm gearin' up to do an oil or acrylic entree for the National Arts for the Parks competition. A few such studies as this watercolor,and I think I'll be prepared or empowered to make the best statement I can expect of myself-



I used a Cotman Watercolor paper pad, 10" x 7"...and use a 4H pencil to do a sketch. My lines are somewhat gestural. You'll note later...that I did not feel the overhanging limbs creating that diagonal were aesthetically all that interesting, possibly more a distraction...and part of making good pictures IMO, is deciding what NOT to paint.

I apologize for the poor white paper drawing digitals...but evidently the florescent lights in the room cast this odd glow onto the paper.

So...here are a couple...



and...



A number of folks have asked how I keep my whites so white and crisp. Well..yes, I use a bit of masking fluid. I apply it in a painterly fashion...thinking of where the negative space of the sky poking thru would help later to sculpt the shape and character of a tree, clouds...water reflections if need be etc;

I used to use expensive art store varieties of masking fluid, but my wife bought this 16 fluid ounce bottle of mending fluid that is used on certain fabrics...is made of the same stuff. Works the same way...and quite cheap by comparison. This stuff lasts a long time....



Hold the paper at an odd angle to get the reflections of the light above, you get a sense of where I apply the mask...painted with a small brush-



I'll end with this...add another post, but get you started....
Larry


[Note: To preserve the continuity of instruction, this thread has been edited to remove some posts that did not pertain to the technique being demonstrated. The Moderators]
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Last edited by painterbear : 04-21-2008 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 01-22-2003, 07:09 PM
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LarrySeiler LarrySeiler is offline
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Okay...now...here is my set up....
as I did this today after school...you see my eMac and more or less I'm cramping my efforts. I pulled up an image I had stored, and rather than printing it out....painted from the monitor.



Here is my Cotman Field Kit....
nothing fancy, and limited in color. I am however, not limited in what I feel I can do with such a palette knowing fairly intimately mixing principles, warm versus cool affects, use of complements, etc;



I grabbed a larger watercolor brush...about a 6 round I believe, and did a quick wash of a mix of some blues. Ligher and warmer nearer to the horizon. I paint right across some of the mask by the trees to create sky color as well...



With the masking still on...I painted various colors of greens with cooler and darker colors into areas I had crafted with the mask in the shapes of branches. Where the sun light is hitting I use more pure greens and yellow influence-


and now..actually...I have rubbed off the mask of the dry sky area and in and around the trees, and you see the crisp results. The character of the tree capture has a lot to do with not thinking of mask fluid as a mask, but as needing to be painted to suggest what you need. You'll note too the distant shores, cooler lighter values transparent to suggest distance....



Here...up close, you can better see the affect I achieved fairly easily of the trees....



and...unfortunately while this whole painting would have only taken me about 20 minutes...stopping to take pictures and load into the computer at the school meant it took me closer to an hour to get this far. I'll have to finish the rest tomorrow sometime during a break, and will share the results then. Besides, my digital camera's battery needs recharging...so what's a guy to do?

At any rate....if you have any questions, I'll check in from time to time....and try to answer them. Peace,

Larry

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Old 01-23-2003, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by laniers


Larry this brings a question to mind. Do you see a price penalty for in watercolors. In other words, do you have to ask less for a work if it is done in watercolors. Seems that way to me.

well...first of all please don't take my answers as an insult, I tend to tell it as I see it.

My respect for the medium is the same with any. Communicating your impressions and reaction to the world around you to the viewer successfully is what I think is important. The medium, so long as it has an archaival promise to it, ought not to matter.

Unfortunately...there is a perceived value that more or less fuels this misnotion.

Since I for some odd reason, have developed my abilities in a number of mediums...it does not affect me as much...but I can certainly understand the frustration for those that do strictly watercolor.

I'll give you one "for instance..." I painted with acrylics for roughly 20 years and over the past decade began adding "gelex" or Liquitex "Extender Gel Medium"...because I was evolving into more an impasto brushstroke laid brushstroke stayed painter. Acrylics flattens when it dries, and some of the affect I wanted was to make use of texture's properties to suggest some details. Thus I added the gelex.

My intention wasn't to set out to make them look like oils, but they more or less did. That is what led to my doing the demo on my site, "How to Produce an Acrylic that Looks Like an Oil!" http://www.wetcanvas.com/ArtSchool/Acrylics/Waterfall/

An art rep I had at the time got some of my larger works into a very prominent gallery in the Mall of America. That gallery had to pay $14,000 per month just to lease the space, thus every space on their walls had to have a calculated assurity to sell, and nothing hung under $2000....

I had some 22" x 28" acrylics, and a few larger that sold and did quite well.

About three months into a very successful relationship with the gallery, I paid a visit and saw they had labelled my acrylics as "oils"....

well...sure, they looked like oils, but I had told them initially. Well...perhaps weekend help, miscommunication...I don't know...but the owner/manager panicked! She asked if I painted oils as well, and I told her I did. Next, she asked me how soon I could get some to her?

Though my images were appealing to the public. Though my sales had been consistent...suddenly finding out they were acrylics lowered the estimation of their value and excellence in this gallery's eyes. They feared what would happen if the public found out.

Now...you have artists such as myself that sell fairly routine their oils or an occassional acrylic for $500 on up to $4,000....but, you miss a whole other market of those that like your images but can't fork out what they consider "big bucks!"

So...your options are prints. The other option is to produce and make available what some think as your "affordables"...

For me...and for many artists working in a number of mediums...watercolors are unfortunately perceived as affordable.

If I enter a duck stamp competition or trout stamp with a watercolor or graphite image...even though I've won before...I won't stand a chance against the acrylics or oil entrants.

I suppose one could call me to blame for that...but, I did not create that personae, plus I fell victim to it once myself. That notion is out there though sad to say.

How do we change that??? I don't know. What's the difference if an image is successful in one medium or the other?

See...I think though to raise some of the value of the image so that the value of watercolor itself raises to that level or status, one has to be careful to resist isolation.

I know some would like to see me abdicate use of pastels, oils or acrylics, and convert to just a watercolorist...but, that would really only serve to isolate watercolors and watercolorists. On the other hand...if people have a high regard for my oils and capabilities with oils or acrylics, but then discover I really enjoy producing watercolors, well...that pits them against a paradox. How do you respect me as a person, value me as an artist because of what I do with these mediums over here...but then hold disdain for watercolor at the same time? You can pretend I don't do them...or you can begin to ponder that the making of watercolors must have value.

Isn't this one of the reasons that we are so blessed to have Sargent's vast collection of watercolors on hand? Is he not really known in the fine art world for his stature in oils? Furthermore...he is remembered most for his portraits.

In the same way we would like his watercolors to hold higher regard in the art world...I would also like the art world to note and hold a higher regard for his landscapes. He really burned out in portraiture, and when he was financially independent...walked away from them to do what he wanted and that was landscapes, cityscapes, water fountains...etc; things he saw in his travels. Unfortunately at this time...these things are little regarded or known about Sargent.

So...I don't think I do watercolor a favor by abdicating, but rather by remaining a paradox.

As we learn to assess higher the "image" as an aesthetic value...and as watercolorists you find it possible to encourage and acknowledge artists in other mediums...you really apply pressure by means of common decency for those artists to begin to do the same. In such a way, I believe change can be slowly implemented where a root might take place.

those are my thoughts on it anyway...

(btw...for those curious...I type 96wpm, and I'm on a break at the moment!)
Larry
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Old 01-23-2003, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Joni St. Martin
Larry,

There is a paradox. I think watercolors are viewed as artworks that won't last and therefore are not as valuable. If watercolorists would be more careful to use only pigments known to be lightfast, we might change that predjudice. I know, that brings up a whole other issue, but I think using impermanent pigments in paintings only perpetuates the opinion that wc's are not worth as much as other mediums.

Again, thanks for your insights. I look forward to your continued lesson, hopefully today!!

Regards,

Joni

I couldn't agree more. I cringe every time I see people say they used this color which by all standards is considered questionable in permanence at best. There are so many substitutes available for these colors, that why someone would even chance it, I can't understand. I guess it's just hard to teach old dogs, new tricks.
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Old 01-23-2003, 03:04 PM
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Okay...now I begin work on the foliage. Is it necessary to do what I'm doing in the order that I am? No...not at all. I'm moving somewhat intuitively, and just have a sense of which order will flow best.

I laid some darker values down that will act as an underpainting. Some washes will go over it to imitate lighter color where the sun is striking, cooler color in the shadows-



Now...here is the image after those washes were applied-


I took a small round, and used darker values to create what Tony Couch calls "Incidence of edges"...that is, I broke up the lighter green edges to create interest and suggest leaves/foliage. Using negative space to suggest leaves and detail. Let the eye think its seeing leaves...

back later....

Larry
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by karenjh
Larry,

Excellent lesson and I have enjoyed reading your thread, including the explanation on the oil vs. acrylic vs. watercolor pricing. I was thinking - this is a lot to type - even for me! All that artistic talent and 96 words a minute too!! WOW - I must say (and I am not being sexist when I say this). There aren't many men out there that can type that fast. Here is my test results from a typing test I took last year. Yes, I am bragging here too!

Can't wait to see your finished painting!

hahaha...very good!!!!

Well...wish I could attribute it to some other reason, but I was a communications operations specialist in good ole Uncle Sam's Navy...and our ship to shore, ship to ship, and ship to air coms where by teletype when back during the end of Nam. I was in the upper 5% of my training class and given an additional rating in petty officer ranking because of it.

But...just to make sure I wasn't boastful about it either...we had a first class petty officer whom could type near 125 wpm or better while carrying on a conversation with anyone in the duty station. When focused and quiet, he could do better than that...though I don't recall the exact numbers. At 48 years of age...I'm sure I slowed down a bit...but in those days...you had to do this nearly flawlessly. I was on a subtender with 16 nuclear subs for which we were a mother supply and master ship. Communications had little levity for error.

I don't boast about it...but, I hang onto it as a skill which allows some tolerance for the use of my time. Certainly, if I couldn't type fast...I would lose opportunity to share here as I have been thus far.

Now...on the other hand...I'm too impatient to write freehand, and you wouldn't want to try reading that!!!!! hahaha...

when I was in high school typing, for some reason...I was just able to get a hang of this thing, and within 3-4 weeks was typing in the 40's...

As a result, the typing teacher let me skip class for most of the remainder of the quarter to give me an additional hour of art in the afternoon. The art teacher would just let me come in...and I'd draw, paint or whatever. I basically got an automatic "A" in that typing class.

btw, that's an excellent score to be sure!!! wow!
larry
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Old 01-23-2003, 04:50 PM
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Well...finished after school....

I suppose its not the most razzle dazzle piece really...tending to be a study or sketch...but it was fun.

I basically used a small brush to focus on painting in the shadows of the rocks to suggest form and crevices. Left paper white to suggest form as well, and a few washes of color to fill in-




Larry
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Old 01-23-2003, 05:02 PM
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Well, Larry, I've just read through the entire thread, and you are honest to pete the best art teacher I have ever had contact with. Your instructions/explanations are so clear and concise, and the demo images so clean and crisp.... I am exceedingly pleased that we have you among our number, regardless of which media you are explaining... it is all a great learning experience and I, among others, want to thank you for sharing your talent with us... As the Aussies would say, "Good onya. mate!"
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Old 01-23-2003, 05:27 PM
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Wow - what a fun and informative thread!! Thanks so much Larry! As I only type about 50 a minute I will have to keep this short.

Rachel

Off to check out your how to make and acrylic look like an oil lesson.
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Old 01-23-2003, 06:19 PM
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Larry this is a very informative and helpful thread...thanks for taking the time to download your progress pics and type out your lengthy(but helpful) explanations...though its a breeze for you with your "flying fingers" lol . So you are a high school art teacher also? Lucky kids who have you for a teacher!
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Old 01-23-2003, 06:26 PM
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Wonderfully finished! I really like the rocks (I've been struggling with them!). Thanks for the insight into your background as well - very interesting to read. Love the part about high school as well as the Navy.
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Old 01-23-2003, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lseiler


(btw...for those curious...I type 96wpm, and I'm on a break at the moment!)
Larry
LOL!! You type faster than I can think!!! But I knew this about you the first time you answered an e-mail from me! The dickens of it is you have a lot to say and it is all meaningful! This perspective on mediums is very thought provoking and GOOD! Thank you for sharing! Guess I need to dig out my oils again and work on my acrylics if I am gonna make any $ with my art! They are all enjoyable in different ways but I will always want to do watercolor first!
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Old 01-23-2003, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cntrymouse

LOL!! You type faster than I can think!!! But I knew this about you the first time you answered an e-mail from me! The dickens of it is you have a lot to say and it is all meaningful! This perspective on mediums is very thought provoking and GOOD! Thank you for sharing! Guess I need to dig out my oils again and work on my acrylics if I am gonna make any $ with my art! They are all enjoyable in different ways but I will always want to do watercolor first!

well...make the habit of doing watercolor studies or preliminaries at first before executing any other medium, and then... sell both!!!

Larry
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Old 01-23-2003, 08:05 PM
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Larry. . . as with all the others I truly appreciate and learn by your examples/training. I'm sure this thread will be treasured and linked all around for some time. I'm wondering if there's a way the guts of your WIP can be assembled in a string without interruption by our many comments, and also include your experience with media $ values.
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Old 01-23-2003, 09:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lseiler


well...make the habit of doing watercolor studies or preliminaries at first before executing any other medium, and then... sell both!!!

Larry

LOL, good advise. i think that i will have to stick to watercolors for a while, too poor in time, money and space right now to puresue any others, but it's great to hear watercolorists and oil painters agreeing and communicating. Thanks so much for the demo, larry. it was very informative (and fun looking too). Looking forward to seeing more of your work around the boards.

Bethany
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