PAINT LESSON I
Don't let colors intimidate you to the point you don't paint just because the color isn't right. I struggled and still do. Keep notes to help you get back to a color you like. During this issue the paints will be acrylics. I use different brands of acrylics depending on the use of the finished object. The main reasons I change is when water is involved. Golden paints have proven themselves when I do decoys that go in the water. I also like Jo Sonya for the out of tube variety of colors available and flatness of the paint. I will try to tackle the things that I found hard. Most of the things I had problems with were things that I couldn't grasp the concept being explained. I will avoid exact colors as color is something that each of us see and the next person may see it differently. I deal with wildfowl so most of what I write will be in that area.
I recommend a book called Blue and Yellow don't make green. Try to use as few colors as possible. You will thank yourself.
In nature there are very few times a hard line can be seen. Take a look at the sky and how it looks at different times of the day. Most times you can't tell where one color starts and another ends. The colors are blended or in transition. If you learn blending your painting will improve immediately. Take a look at someone's hair. You can see the hair and kind of see a line however, the ending is not exact causing a less than hard line. If the hair is changing to gray can you see the gray hair and what ever the other color is? The hair line is not straight and meanders back and forth, colors mix and even when combed the hair overlaps other hair.
When you blend colors there are several ways to accomplish this.
This is a picture of dragging paint from one color into the next color. Paint the lighter of the two and let dry. You then apply the second color and drag some of that color over the adjoining color causing a ragged edge. At a distance this will cause a blended look. Depending on the edge you want you can also use a stiff brush and dab paint into the lighter color. The paint will come off the bristle and leave holes letting the lighter color to show through.
Here is another example of dragging the black from the side pocket over the back feathers. It demonstrates how nature would do this as the small feathers blend like hair. Blending takes the starkness and the eyes find the object more pleasing. This also adds to the camouflage needed by the birds to survive. This blending is the easiest to master and works even with black and white.
WET INTO WET
This simply means having two colors of paint that are wet, placed next to each other letting the paint merge together. In extreme, you put a blue and yellow together a small edge of green will form. Paint will flow together but may not mix enough to get the desired effect. Water colors do this dramatically. To accomplish the blending I like to actually use 3 brushes. One in one color, one in the other color , and the third one dry.
Paint the one color in the area desired and paint the area adjacent with the other color. Use the third brush to drag through the middle or where the line would be. Drag, wiggle or stipple (stab) the clean brush. The drag brush should be cleaned as necessary and dry. Depending on the contrasting colors will depend on how much you work the paint. If the colors are similar I sweep through the middle of the two paints much like a broom sweeping a floor. If the paint is extreme as in black and white I recommend dragging the black into the white or stippling or blotting some of the dark color into the lighter. I will create small flecks. You can bring the white into the dark color however, it may not cover in on coat or add some gesso which will make the white cover better.
Sweeping, blotting, rubbing or any other method to mix the edges together to provide a smooth transition is the goal. Dabbing a sponge or using a large house painting brush or any method blend, blend and blend. Colors used here are a burnt umber and some white added in the burnt umber.
Without a doubt one of the most effective blending technique is the use of an airbrush. The action of paint being mixed with air and the mist being moved freely through the area thus striking the intended object does everything to prevent a hard line look. You actually have to be proficient in the use of the brush to get a clean line. Paint doesn't need to be wet to blend. Air brushing will allow you to put down light coats easier than with a normal brush. You control the paint by the distance held away from the object. At this time I am addressing a basic blocking in technique to enable basic color schemes or establishing the color areas by undercoating. There is another entire subject in the finishing stages. If you block in your colors using any method including a paint roller you also establish the different areas that make up the parts of birds. The backs, bellies, wings etc are sometimes stark or can be supple as in birds that reflect a general color as in the cardinal. If you look closely there are many shades of color making up what you see while it feeds at the feeder. As with any painting project you should think about drawing in the areas to be painted to help keep perspective or when painting in the round you will have the area from one side being skewed.
Here is the same picture that was blended with the brush except I added a harder line between the colors by brushing the darker color over the lighter. It also demonstrates if you stopped at this stage. I used another color and tried to take out the harsh line between the colors.
Here I tried to demonstrate a light coat with the airbrush. You can see both the dark and light colors showing through the spray. It does take some of the harshness away and this is where the painter has to determine how far you wish to blend or not blend.
Here I added a few sprayings to mute the harshness. I also wanted you to see the white paper and how the white shows through the paint. This effect can be demonstrated with two different colors of saran wrap laid over one another or something else. You see the color but can see what is underneath. This effect will become important when doing individual feathers to create softness, shadows and highlights. There are many schools of thought in painting light to dark or dark to light. Watercolors light to dark and oils and acrylics dark to light. I reverse the process with acrylics depending on what I am painting. So don't lock yourself into anything. Art should be the creative you.
I hope to add to the process as I go. As I said earlier my biggest problem was understanding the process. When the light went on it was amazing how much better I did. Practice, Practice, Practice.
I use acrylics and dabble with watercolors however, oils have a place and can do
things that acrylics can't because of drying times.