Painting Outside the Box: A Step-by-Step Demonstration Using Daniel Smith Ultimate Acrylics by Pat Weaver
Sometimes it's fun to try something a little different and step outside the box by pushing yourself in a totally new direction. I took an ordinary photograph, lackluster in color and produced a collage by drawing first on white paper, then tearing various colors from magazines into different shapes, gluing them to the drawing. This creates a whole new look and allows the artist to create rather than copy.
No matter what medium you choose to work in, and in this example I'm using Daniel Smith Ultimate™ Acrylics, the principles are the same. Good drawing comes first, then value, next comes color and then edges. Nothing takes the place of hands-on experience through many hours of practice. As you'll see from the following demonstration, a whole new look evolves that is very different from the photograph. The end result is bolder and richer color, which allows for a stronger statement.
This collage was created by ripping colors from magazines, tearing various shapes and gluing them to a pencil drawing on white paper. The sky is really pushed to a deep dark rich blue. The adobe colors have been pushed to brighter, more exciting yellows, oranges and red. The white on the collage is the white of the paper.
STEP 1 - Pencil Drawing
Start with a Photograph
Here is a pencil drawing of the subject on an Ampersand panel, using a 2b pencil.
STEP 2 - Block In the Sky
I blocked in the sky starting on the right, using Ultramarine Blue mixed with Quinacridone Rose. There is no white paint used in this painting until Step 4. I used Cobalt Blue mixed with Ultramarine for the lighter side of the sky. Hansa Yellow Light was mixed with Ultramarine Blue to block in the trees. The church is blocked in with Quinacridone Gold, with a little Quinacridone Rose occasionally added for variation in color. The shadow side of the church is Quinacridone Gold, Quinacridone Rose and a little Ultramarine Blue to create a rich dark orange that looks like Burnt Sienna. The whites you see in Step 2 are the white of the Ampersand panel.
STEP 3 - Add Shadows
I repainted the sky, using the same mixtures as Step 2, so it looks more solid, richer in color and value. I went back into the trees adding more variation of color, using Hansa Yellow and Ultramarine Blue. For a very dark green, I added a little Quinacridone Rose to the blue/yellow mixture.
Then I continued blocking in the large front wall of the church, using the Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Rose. And a little Ultramarine Blue was added to the mixture of the two colors in the shaded areas of the wall.
The door is painted with the same mixtures. I mixed Ultramarine Blue, Quinacridone Rose and Quinacridone Gold to make black. That's how you get black, by mixing all three primaries together: blue, red and yellow. I painted the shadow shapes under the porches, the railings and windows with this black mixture. Phthalo Blue was used for the bright blue trim on the porch.
STEP 4 - Add Highlights and Details
Now I've painted back into the sky and added white to my mix of Ultramarine Blue and Quinacridone Rose. When you add white, be sure to include a second blue in the mix. For example, combine Ultramarine Blue plus white plus Cobalt Blue, or Ultramarine Blue plus white plus Phthalo Blue. This keeps the color mixture from looking chalky. You are "exciting" the mixture by adding either color above: Ultramarine Blue which is Cobalt Blue, or the color above Cobalt Blue on the color wheel, which is Phthalo Blue. Any time I add white to any color, I go either above or below the local color on the wheel to prevent that chalky, pasty look.
I made the decision to paint the trees very, very dark behind the walls of the church, just for more drama. The entire painting was touched up with white in the mixes. When white was added to yellow, I would add Quinacridone Gold. When white was added to Quinacridone Gold, I would add Quinacridone Rose. (Remember about going up or down the wheel analogously to excite the color mixture.) Then a little more calligraphy work on the church towers, adding the bells and a window here or there, finished the painting.
It's a fun project. Try your own colors, different from mine, and see how creative you can become.
About the Author
Pat Weaver is an internationally recognized watercolor artist with more than 30 years of experience. Her watercolors are spontaneous and direct. The colors excite the viewer and flow from her brush like music from a fine violin. Her love, knowledge and command of the watercolor medium is passed onto the hundreds of students who have taken her workshops throughout the years. She conducts workshops on Portrait and Figures; Landscapes; Floral and Still Life; Animals; Drawing and Color Theory throughout the U.S. and abroad. Many of these students have taken multiple workshops from her and keep coming back time after time. She inspires, motivates and teaches the fundamental principles of painting, choosing to allow students to develop their own style of painting. But all the while disciplining and encouraging them to apply the principles taught to produce fine art.
See Pat's work at: http://www.patweaver.net.