Yesterday, I told you I was almost done posting photos of my trip to see my mom in the Bay Area, except for some pictures of some pictures. I always do some painting when I am at my mom’s house. I am trying to get her interested in watercolor painting… not that she needs a new hobby… she is over 90 and is more busy and active than most people I know.
So I took some pictures of the art I brought with me, and some of the ones I keep up there to work on, but I thought I might take this opportunity to give you a little art lesson if you think you might like to try watercolor painting.
The hardest part of watercolor painting is not the painting itself, although watercolors can be tricky, because unlike oil paints, or other thick paints, you can’t always paint over mistakes… and watercolors tend to run and bleed into each other unless you let each new color dry all the way, which slows you down. Also, watercolors can ruin the paper you are painting on, especially if you aren’t using the right kind of paper.
But the part that most people find difficult is the sketch, the drawing, the putting down on the paper whatever it is that you intend to paint. I have previously suggested doing geometric shapes, and taking a modern art approach where you do not worry about the form. Because not everybody can draw a house or a horse of a flower or a face or a mountain.
A few years back, I found a coloring book about the civil war. I study history, and military history intrigues me. So I bought the book, and I have been using it to practice my watercolor painting…
Once you take away the worry of having to do a drawing yourself, it is really just adding color where it needs to go. This is an excellent was to get used to painting trees and backgrounds, playing with color and shading. This book was not made for watercolors, and the paper is not the right kind, but I have fun with it, and that is important when doing art.
I love the way a pictures begins to come alive, to pop out of the page as you add the colors. The book had some text on each page, so I came up with a clever idea. I cut the text off. This led me to the idea of ripping the corners of the pages. Then I sort of singe them with a cigarette lighter. This makes them look like they were actually done by some civil war soldier during the war… sort of… I haven’t finished doing this to all of them, but you get the idea.
Please bear in mind that these are all still unfinished. This is just to get your creative juices flowing.
If you have enough fun painting some pictures drawn by someone else, you can think about teaching yourself to draw, right?
If you look at the picture above, you might notice that there are different shades of gray on the Confederate uniforms. The only real skill needed with painting is shading, and adding a sense of depth. You can see where the color needs to be just a bit darker… inside the folds of cloth, or under an ammunition box on a belt. Imagine where the sun is in the sky, and just add a little more black, or use a darker shade of gray, if your paint set has it.Painting on finished sketches is also a good way to practice doing color washes with a big brush to fill in the sky. I always start with a light blue wash, and then add streaks of color to it while it is still wet… this can lead to some beautiful backgrounds, as long as you don’t get carried away and turn your paper into mush. Do the big background washes first. It is hard to go back and do it around every object in the foreground. So paint the grass, water, or sky first.
There, I threw in one original painting of the civil war that I did with my own sketch. It isn’t the best painting in the world, but it is colorful, and it sort of captures a feeling of a battle. And art is really all about feelings.