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Old 06-14-2008, 09:27 PM
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Ontario Trillium a demo

A good artist is never "off duty", and the best advice experienced painters in watercolour can give to beginners is to be aware of potential paintings all around, all the time, any time. If you wait until the muse strikes, you may wait forever. "Ontario Trillium" is one example of always being "on duty". Image size is 15" X 11", on 300 lb Arches cold pressed, using W&N Artists quality paints. Click here for a larger version. http://watercoloursforfun.com/BlindLinkTrillium.html

For those not familiar with this plant, Trillium is the native flower of the Province of Ontario. It blooms only in Spring and for a very short time. It grows wild and results in a carpet of blooms in woodlands across much of Ontario. The blossoms are up to two inches across and are accompanied by broad, slightly shiny leaves on long slender stems. I came across this stunning display while wandering around "Garden Artifacts", a beautiful garden centre in our village of Uxbridge. I went along to check out the aquatic displays, statues, waterfalls and assorted pots, but wandered to the outskirts of the grounds in search of the unusual. I found it by being "on duty".

This a tricky plant to photograph and paint. The white flower is an intense white, and the leaves are clustered thickly around them. As I sat and planned this painting, it occurred to me it made a fine example of painting negative spaces, so I decided to turn this into a step-by-step demo. You may never paint Trillium of course, but the techniques used here may help you in future paintings. My original, simplified demo on painting negative spaces can be found at
http://watercoloursforfun.com/Negati...%20Spaces.html



The first step was to get an accurate image on paper and try to lessen the confusion by putting a small x's where the darkest areas would occur. This had the odd effect of making this look like a "paint-by-numbers" project, but I knew once I began I would soon get lost amid this greenery and I was glad I tried this method.



Next I masked off the white flowers to ensure their eventual whiteness would be preserved.



Now a word about palettes, colours and general cleanliness. Although I retired from commercial art many years ago, old habits die hard I'm afraid. I always clean my palette before each new painting, as well as cleaning up my painting area. Here I show my relatively simple palette, and I'm using my "break-up" brush to mix clean pure colours ready for use.



Here I'm putting on the first wash of green, which is the first of many layers to come. Unfortunately I misjudged the tone and had to make it darker later, but it was a start. I throughly wet the paper first, let it almost dry, then applied the colour.



Now I mixed and applied my second layer of green, carefully leaving in the centre of interest leaves, and lightening up the edge of one. You'll notice I made a false start on the top LH corner leaves before I realized I was out of sequence. I was able to correct this later on.



This shows the amount of colour I mixed to cover the paper for each wash. Too many painters in watercolour fail to mix enough colour, or have tiny wells which soon run dry. This means a panic as you try to match the existing colour before the layers dries out. Always make sure you have enough "paint in your wagon" before you start the journey. On bigger washes I have separate wells for this purpose.



Leaving the false start on the upper LH side, I apply the next layer, painting around the leaves I wish to leave in. Now my "paint-by-numbers" X's come in handy as it's starting to get confusing.



It's at this point I realize my first wash wasn't dark enough, so here I'm applying a darker wash over everything but the centre of interest leaves. The white blossoms are protected by liquid misket of course. Are you still with me?



More "palette talk" as I show you how I mix up enough of the various tones of the same green to build up my layers.



Now I begin to build up my darkest tones - the ones which had little x"s in the original drawing. I'm beginning to get confused now but I concentrate on one small segment at a time.



Here's a close-up to show you how I'm progressing.



I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, so I stop putting in the darkest values at this stage and begin working on individual leaves.

I've just about used up my 15 images for today, and probably your attention span, so I'll see you here tomorrow?

John


www.watercoloursforfun.com
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Old 06-15-2008, 01:04 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Another John demo! I love watching you work. Would you mind giving us the colors you are using? Pretty please?
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Old 06-15-2008, 01:38 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Wow!!! John!!!! This looks brilliant!!! Thanks for doing the demoo, I am eagerly waiting for more...
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Old 06-15-2008, 02:53 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

John, Great Demo amd the work is coming along Beautifully .
Love to watch you paint !
June
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Old 06-15-2008, 03:44 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Thank you sooo much for sharing this demo!!!~it is looking great so far...anxiously awaiting more!!
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Old 06-15-2008, 04:22 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

What a terrific demo John, negative painting is somethng I need to practice. I suppose patience is an essential quality

Doug
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Old 06-15-2008, 06:34 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

John,

This is really coming along beautifully. I would have been intimidated by all those green leaves, so it is really informative to watch how you are approaching them.

I love negative painting and this demo shows why.

I know this is going in the Learning Demos when you finish, so we'll have an easy-to-find record of it.

Mentor Point and a rating for your thread as well.

Sylvia
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Old 06-15-2008, 09:25 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laura D
Another John demo! I love watching you work. Would you mind giving us the colors you are using? Pretty please?

Happy to oblige. I must admit I forgot to mention this aspect in my first few images. The greens were a mixture of Sap Green, Aureolin Yellow, Raw Sienna and a touch of Windsor Blue. I can't remember the proportions as I tend to do this sort of thing instinctively until it looks right, hence my tip about making enough colour to last. In the final images of this demo I'll try to indicate the colours I used as far as I remember.

John


www.watercoloursforfun.com
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Old 06-15-2008, 09:35 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yorky
What a terrific demo John, negative painting is somethng I need to practice. I suppose patience is an essential quality

Doug

Glad you like this Doug. Yes, indeed - patience is required in this sort of project. Frankly, I'm always afraid of negative painting as it's way outside my comfort zone and I'm convinced it has something to do with the hard-wired male brain. I'm always in awe of painters such a Linda Kemp, who make it look so easy....as you and I know - it isn't!

John


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Old 06-15-2008, 09:52 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

This is fantastic John. I'm on board to watch all the way through. Your demos are always very helpful!

What is the palette you are using?
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Old 06-15-2008, 10:14 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Hello again - glad you could join me for the final part of this demo. When I left you yesterday, I was planning on how I would paint in the leaves around the blossoms....

Before I started on the leaves immediately around the blossoms, I decided to cover up the top half of my painting to reduce the confusion I was feeling over the layers yet to come. Because I'm a slow painter and my painting is often on the board for a week or more, I often cover up the parts I'm not working on to keep things clean and to enable me to focus on a particular area. I frequently remove this to step back and see how I'm doing.



Still not happy with the confusion over all the layers, I decided to cover up everything but the main leaf as I wanted to try some techniques to try to capture the delicate texture of these leaves. Looking back I probably didn't need to go this far but I'm very nervous about painting negative spaces as I rarely feel in complete control of what's happening. Here I am applying my first wash.



Using a tightly twisted piece of facial tissue I removed some colour before this dried.



Then I blended this in with an almost dry brush. I know, I know - what does he mean - an almost dry brush? This will depend on your paper and the amount of colour you already have on the paper. That's the trouble with demos: so much depends on your own personal circumstances. The trick is to be patient and experiment on spare paper.



As this is a sort of complicated negative painting technique within a negative painting itself, I began layering the areas on the leaf, and followed this up with putting in the veins. It was more complicated than that of course, as each vein had to have its edges softened. This is not a subject for the faint-hearted or the impatient!



Feeling a little more comfortable I removed my cover and modified the results by lifting out some colour to try to give the leaf its slightly shiny texture. I'm using a scrub brush, water and a clean facial tissue. You'll have to practice this to decide just how much water and tissue pressure to apply. A lot will depend on your paper and how many layers of paint are already on there. 300lb Arches cold pressed and un-stretched can be pretty thirsty.



Next I removed the liquid misket from the blossoms and stood back to see what was happening. I modified the leaf even more before completion, but it was time to turn my attention to the blossoms.



The blossoms were a problem. How do you paint white in watercolour? I used a series of very pale ultramarine blue washes, and let the original pencil marks help define the petals.



It's difficult to photograph white, but this shows how I attempted to create the incredibly delicate reflected light from the leaf above. The shadings on the petals we carefully built up with more layers of ultramarine blue washes, eventually blended to suit. After this I went over the main areas again, strengthening the darks where needed and adding whatever crispness I felt necessary.



I matted it with the outer mat in a dark green to complement the subject matter, and that was it.



I hope this demo was of use to you, and if you have an specific questions I'll be happy to explain further. Until then - have a happy summer painting schedule everyone.

John
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Old 06-15-2008, 10:39 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Violetta
This is fantastic John. I'm on board to watch all the way through. Your demos are always very helpful!

What is the palette you are using?

Judy:

My mentor, the late Robert Long, from Florida, used a similar palette made up by using two Grumbacher #985 Plastic Slant units as shown here. These are two I keep spare for special projects and colours I rarely use.

They are quite simply joined together by masking tape with a rigid cardboard bottom. The colors I use are from tubes of Winsor & Newton Artist quality paints, and as I show in one of my images in this demo, I use a "break-up" brush to transfer the colour to my mixing areas. I make no claim to this system being better than those expensive colour wheel things, but it's just something I'm comfortable with.



John


www.watercoloursforfun.com
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Old 06-15-2008, 10:51 AM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Fabulous finish John, and thanks for explaining each technique so clearly. I am sure you have inspired many to try negative painting.

Doug
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Old 06-15-2008, 01:57 PM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

Wow, Thanks so much John! You have definitely inspired me to try this... Thanks so very very much!!! I love how you handles the forground leaves and made them look shiny! Thank again so much
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Old 06-15-2008, 01:58 PM
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Re: Ontario Trillium a demo

A mentor point to you!!!!
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