Oh man, I feel so cool right now…

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My 19-year-old nephew came over today for Easter dinner. It turns out we are playing the same game… it is called: Clash of Clans. I play it on my  ipad, he plays it on his smart phone. When he found out I was playing it too, he gave me one of those smug smiles that only guys of that age can give, and started telling me how awesome his village is and how many trophies he has and so on.

He has been playing computer games since he was little. His dad is a hardcore gamer. And kids these days are just good at these games. But it turns out that I have been playing this one a lot longer, and my village kicks his village’s ass.

Oh yeah.

He might even join my clan, and then we can chat while we wipe out other villages.

We can get let our inner barbarians out for a little pillaging.

Talk about your male bonding.

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I got your multimedia… part 2…

I have done a little more work on that unfinished watercolor sketch. Only I am doing it in Photoshop. Because how cool is it that you can paint light playing on water, and then use a computer, which uses light to make little dots, and then add those into a painting?

Here is where I stopped last time…

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And here is what I did since then…

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I added a little color to the boats. Then I started playing with their reflections in the water. Oh, and I have started to add some more shading to the strange rock formation that looms over Morrow Bay.

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Ladies, if you have been with your man for more than five years…

… let me tell you a little secret. When you talk to him, he isn’t really listening to the words. He is listening to your tone of voice. The same way a dog listens. He can tell all he needs to know by your tone… if he is in trouble, if he is going to get some food, if he is going to get petted. And that is really all he cares about.

Sorry, guys, for giving away this secret. But when it comes to the battle of the sexes, I know which side I want to come out on top… uh… I mean… as victors… yeah… that sounds much better.

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I got your multimedia… part 1…

(or): Where the ship hits the fan… Okay, that joke only works if you are a fan of my art…

So I told you that I had a silly idea… no… that’s fine, I can wait till you stop laughing… I have been sharing some of my unfinished watercolor paintings with you. Here is one I haven’t shown you yet…

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It is a pictures I started on a family vacation years ago when we all went to Morrow Bay on the central California coast. This was when I first started trying to interest my mother in watercolor painting. I made a mistake. I said we should try painting the view of the bay from the deck of her hotel room.

Painting a landscape is hard. I consider myself to be fairly good at drawing, but this view contained so many elements… land, sky, boats, water, clouds and fog, trees and bushes. I did a very rough pencil sketch, just to get the feel. I wasn’t trying to be photorealistic. I just wanted her to start playing with the watercolors. I did a sketch for each of us. My mistake was that I should have started her out with something easy, like the geometric patterns I posted earlier this week.

The picture above is mine. I am not particularly proud of it. I keep adding paint, but as I mentioned in one of the posts bellow, watercolors do not allow you to paint over mistakes like thicker paints do.

But here is the idea I had. What if I clean it up and work on it in Photoshop, like I did with the pictures I did for my children’s book… (available for sale, over there in my sidebar, by the way… just follow the links… kids love that book)…

So I am going to do some posts where I show you, step-by-step, how I am trying to turn a mediocre painting into something better…

a 1 a 9 1There. I haven’t done much, yet. Just worked on some outlines on the boats. But give me time, and we will see what we can do.

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Just a few more pictures of a few more paintings…

Here are my last photos of the watercolors I was working on while visiting my mom in the Bay Area… and the last of my tips for easy ways to have fun with watercolor paints…

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Flowers are always a good way to practice painting. You don’t need to draw fancy flowers. Just paint some stems and put some leaves on them, and then paint some random flower shapes at the top. You can use any colors you want, any shapes you want. They do not have to look like real flowers.

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Just play, have fun, go crazy. Let the colors grow like a wild dream garden. Every painting might not end up as something you will hang on your wall. But you will learn from every painting you do.

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And don’t forget to use a very large brush to do a background wash of color for a sky before you start.

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Some pictures of some paintings… part 2… that we might have more fun with later…

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These are just some photos of some of my art that I am still working on. They mostly started off as rough sketches, just for fun, and then they start to grow into… something… You might be wondering why I start to cut them out. The idea is that someday, I will mount them on wooden plaques, and then varnish them. I like that one, because it doesn’t have an ‘up’ or a ‘down’. You could hang it in any direction. I often do that with weird pieces of art. You could rotate them every day, if you wanted to.

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These sketches didn’t begin with a plan. Sometimes the best way to start a picture is to put a blank piece of paper in front of you and just let the art happen. That is what ‘pouring your art out’ is all about, I suppose. Once I have a page full of… whatever it ends up full of…  I start adding color. It might be colored pencils, or watercolors, or crayons or oil paints or ink pens… or all of the above.

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These are just some of the pictures I happened to stick in a bag full of unfinished art, watercolor paint sets, and brushes. I take the bag with me when I go anywhere that might allow me some time to paint. You may notice that there are some pictures of my face in the unfinished picture above… you know how much I love my own face… Yeah, they are pictures of me from when I still had the long hair, but some of these I started that long ago. There is no time limit on art.

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Oh yeah, you might as well throw yourself into your work… HA!

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Now that one is just me practicing drawing eyes. This is another good way to have fun while brushing up on your painting and drawing skills… ha… see what I did there…

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That’s me as a samurai… it is going to look awesome mounted on a piece of dark wood.

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That picture you might remember from the last time I was at my mom’s house. I think it is finished now. As I told you in the last post, simple geometric shapes done in pencil are a good way to learn watercolors. Find some objects around your house that have interesting shapes, and just run a pencil around the outside edge… you do not have to be able to draw a perfect circle or square. Let the shapes overlap, and where they do, you can play with letting the wet watercolor paints run together. Try using different amounts of water to let the colors swirl and run. And try getting a brush very wet and full of pant, and then dribbling or flicking the drops onto the paper. The splatter can end up being beautiful. And it will react in new ways, depending on how wet the areas where it lands happen to be. Play with your colors! Have some fun!

a 1 a 8I think that one is finished also… if art is ever actually finished. You can see that I colored over my lines of the geometric shapes with felt pens and colored pencils. I also added some very simple flower shapes over the top… because: why not?

I may come back and show you some of the unfinished art in this post again. I have a vague idea that it might be fun to finish them in Photoshop. Remember, that is how I finished the pictures of the funny monkeys for the children’s book I wrote. Maybe I will do another ‘step-by-step’ series. That could be fun.

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Some pictures of some paintings… part 1… oh, and a free art lesson…

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…

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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.

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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.

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Please bear in mind that these are all still unfinished. This is just to get your creative juices flowing.

a 1 a 4If you have enough fun painting some pictures drawn by someone else, you can think about teaching yourself to draw, right?

a 1 a 5 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.a 1 a 6Painting 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.

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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.

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