Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adorable Baby Wearing a Chullo... and a Lesson on Edge Control

I started the summer semester on Monday, and I am loving my classes so far! I am taking a Creative Writing class, which is a lot of fun already (we are doing poetry)! I am also taking a Watercolor for Illustrators class. I was first introduced to watercolor in Illustration 2 by the fabulous Camille LaPointe Lyons and I completely fell in love with watercolor painting. When I heard that she had written the Watercolor for Illustrators course, I signed up immediately. I am so excited to learn more about watercolor painting from such a talented woman. My instructor, Sue Rother, is a very talented painter as well.

Here is my first painting for the semester- a little 6x7" spot illustration of my pretty niece, Emma:

A special thanks to my talented mother, Margarita Bromley, the excellent photographer who took the photo that I used as reference for this painting. Her lovely photographs have been the reference material for so many of my illustrations over the years!

Lesson Learned: Paint outside the lines! 

The first module of this course taught me to throw out the painstakingly precise application of paint that has ruled my artistic approach ever since my childhood. As a kid, I always carefully colored inside the black lines of my Barbie coloring books and painted perfectly within the designated areas of my paint-by-numbers. According to the experts, however, it is better to take a loose approach to watercolors, and it is okay to paint outside the lines! 

For this approach, paint the middle value first, then paint through adjacent shapes of the same or similar values so that the colors start to bleed together. Of course, test it on a scrap of paper first to make sure that running the colors together won't result in a muddy color. I still had to be precise in the areas of detail (I used masking fluid for the eyes, teeth, and highlights and patterns on the clothing), but it was fun to let the colors bleed together around the edges, and the soft edges helped to draw more attention to the sharp detail on the face (the focal point of my illustration). Those soft edges I was able to achieve with this technique created sort of an atmospheric blur like you can achieve in photography by using a large aperture.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding... and a Lesson on Using Masking Fluid

On June 4, my cousin Jacob married my best friend Kelly. They are a perfect match and will be so happy together! I painted a watercolor portrait of them to commemorate this joyous occasion:

Lesson Learned: Frisket is your friend! 

I used masking fluid (frisket) liberally when painting this portrait. I masked everything in the foreground before I painted the sky. This helped me to keep the value of the sky even, since I could paint all of my wash strokes horizontally (right over the masked area) instead of worrying about painting around the foreground objects. When I removed all of the masking fluid, I was left with clean edges and pure white paper where the figures, temple, and trees would be. 

Then, I carefully painted masking fluid over the areas where the lightest details and the hardest edges would be. This helped me to keep the edges crisp and the lights light so that no details got fuzzy or lost as I applied thin glazes of color to keep the colors luminous and bright. Then I let the painting dry, lifted the masking fluid, and added the dark values to the details with a mostly dry brush and I did not have to worry about my edges blurring or my highlights getting lost. Masking takes time, but it is so worth it in the end!