Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Art Technique - Watercolor

Fishing Boats on the Beach, Vincent van Gogh, Watercolor, 1888


One of my Freshmen Art I classes is playing with watercolor as we create our "head shots of the Gods" for the DMA student art exhibition in April. I have been encouraging them to play with the medium and discover what techniques they can incorporate into their skill set. Some think that watercolor is challenging because it is a lively material. It can be. The beauty of watercolor is the clarity of the paint and the "life" it has when it hits the paper. It definitely takes some practice to explore its qualities and it is easy to overwork the paint and end up with a muddy blob.

I am encouraging my young painters to check out this website and look at some of the painting demonstrations. It might give you some ideas that you will want to incorporate into your portraits! I've put two images in this post, one I did at a workshop and a watercolor by Vincent van Gogh. He handled the paint much like I have been demonstrating for our portraits - big patches of local color (a solid hue) with outlining to define shapes. I'm excited to see what you discover when we get back from spring break!

Snagged, Christine Miller, Watercolor, 2007

12 comments:

William Mills said...

I think both of these paintings are beautiful. The first by Van Gough outlines the boundaries, restricting the color, but simultaneously allowing it to live and be free.
Personally, I am more drawn to the second piece, because, unlike the first, there are no limits. There are no walls holding the natural beauty in line with man's yearning for guidelines. The fish, although it is snagged, is contrary to the emotions that this piece (more accurately, this medium) give me.
Although I struggle to try and control my art, to look at other artworks makes me peaceful. The soft colors calm you, while the abscence of boundaries lets you see the masterpiece's full potential. I feel that even though tey can make the art more understandable, dark outlines are not needed. They jump out at you, and make the art look slightly held back to me.

Anonymous said...

I think that both of these paintings are interesting but the first is much better.
In the first , he has perfect bounderies and is able to clearly define his ships (he probably used a pen). I really admired how he was able to paint that thin line of blue on the 'rim' of the first boat too. One thing I disliked was the huge waterspot on the upper part of the ocean. It ruined the mood.
I didnt like the second just because it was too unstructured for me. It seemed as though the colors did not belong together. However, that might have been Ms. Miller's idea and I certainly could not have painted it. Therefore, the second painting is one of things that I appreciate but don't understand.

Adarsh Jayakumar
Period 1

Tori Zimmerman said...

I like the contrasting colors in the first painting. I also like the texture of it. It really looks like waves.
The second picture is very abstract to be, though I like the way the lines of the plants over lap each other. It creates a very real effect, like I could touch it and feel a bump where the line is. I also like the contrast between the warm colors of the fish and the cool colors of the backback ground.

Roman Muniz said...

I think both of the paintings are nice, but like the first one better because it has definite shape and form. It shows you where the limits are. The second, while still being very good, does not have many boundaries and this sometimes makes a piece harder to look at.

Benjamin Cruz said...

I personally believe that watercolor is a fascinating medium by which to portray art.
I've always deeply admired the manner in which the form, shape and texture of the paint comes alive. However I really agree with you on the challenge watercolor presents when it is being used. It is quite tricky to master but not impossible.
Concerning the two paintings, I really love the way the fine detail of the boats such as their hulls and masts is skillfully portrayed using a warm, rich distribution of the brushstroke on the paper.
I also happened to notice that the first painting gives me a sense of peace and calm. I can imagine the soft breeze of the beach and the soft whisper of the waves upon the sand along with the notion of going out to sea, perhaps to fish, on the boats.
They aren't vivid colors rather a mixture of warm and cool which gives me this impression of peace.
I think Van Gogh has captured my attention with the shape and background of this piece.

Brittany Garcia Period 2 said...

Both of these paintings are unique in their own way, much like the techniques used to try and keep control of the watercolors.
At first glance, my eyes took in a better liking to the first painting. I think it was because I was amazed at how the colors had been placed so carefully as to be manipulated, and somehow given boundaries. But I also enjoyed the second piece of art because it had no boundaries or limits to it. The paintings in a way condradict and compliment each other at the same time. They are made of the same element (watercolor), yet have their own unique personalities.

F0UnTaIn BoY$ said...

I admire the two watercolor paintings. I like the color usage of both artworks and can see that both artists, Ms. Miller and Van Gough, know and knew how to use watercolors skillfully. From Van Goghs piece, the colors used and the shading impressed me, and the painting brings memories of me walking along shorelines coming upon similar sail boats. Even though I like it, I think people or at least some living creatures found on beaches should have been included on the painting to give it a little bit more life (That's just m opinion).
I find the yellow and orange sea horse-like creature, which also appears to be a bird, on Ms. Miller's painting to be interesting. The orange shading stands out and I like the vibrant colors found on the piece. the whole piece demonstrates Ms. Millers creativity and is similar to things I would draw.
<- Daniel J. Gonzalez.

Anonymous said...

As a medium, watercolor is an interesting choice. While it provides a wide range of visual effects, it often lends itself to vague aspects.
In outlined figures, watercolor is often used to show many colors.
Many artists, however often simply do not bother with form, and will paint entire pictures in the watery, flowing shape that is characteristic of watercolor.

Liam M., 2nd period

Sheridan Taylor said...

Watercolor is especially unique in the whole spectrum of mediums, because the artist is able to dry between applications and really layer different concentrations of the pigment to create depth. This is much more evident in the second piece than the first, Van Gogh really uses a large amount of pigment to add contrast. The artist of the second piece (I'm trying not to biased) employs the very essence of the water and uses several layers to create depth.

Alan Sullivan said...

The first painting is what impressed me the most out of the two. The way that Van Gough controls the watercolor is amazing. The way that the boats gets smaller as the painting gets farther away is a nice detail to show the 3-D affect. The second piece is also very complex and beautiful. Its is more free flowing and seems as if the artist was painting what he was feeling. To me having the experience of using watercolor recently makes me appreciate the first painting more because of the fact that it is so hard to control water color.

Kelsey M.(C.A) said...

I think these paintings are very nice. They have a wonderful use of colors. it really shows details. It really shows how you can blend colors. i really like the texture of the first one. And i love the way second one is full of all kinds of colors! wonderful job. =]

Nimi said...

I think both of these watercolor paintings are really nice, but I think I liked the first one better. In Van Gough's piece, I really liked how the ships were really defined and exact and the area around it was kept really simple, so it drew my attention to the ships when I looked at it. I like how simple the area around the ship is, even though it has some texture to it. The colors that Van Gough used in the first ship are really bright (especially the yellow) so it complements with the muted colors in the sea and the beach. I liked this painting better than the other because, when I first looked at it, it kind of drew my attention inward, as if everything was kept really neatly packed in a circle around the ship.
However, with the watercolor picture of the fish, it kind of drew my attention outwards because of the lines that were heading off the page. I like how the fish is a really bright orange color and it has some texture to it. For some reason,when I first looked at it,I first noticed the fish's eye, because it was really dark, and it kind of contrasted with the fish's brightly colored body.