In this video, I'm demonstrating the use of warm and cool colors to create depth in a landscape. I'm painting mountains over a lake near Silverton, Co. I used Liquitex and Amsterdam acrylics on a Belgian Linen canvas from Fredrix.
One of the worst things you can do, if you want your piece to look realistic, is to immediately reach for black when getting ready to paint your shadows.
Here's my painting, "Couple In Costume At Balboa Park.
I want to direct your attention to the blue overhang in the upper left hand corner.
For this particular piece, I used cerulean blue as the base color and ultramarine, mixed with black for the shadows. You can see it has obvious dimension. In the pic below, though, I've digitally colored the shadow on the side black.
Next, take a look at how I painted this table in my painting "Woman With Cabinet".
Here, I've painted the base of the table burnt sienna and for the shadow on the side, I used a burnt umber shade. Both shades were mixed with other colors, of course. Now here's that same table, with the shadow on the side digitally colored black.
Here's a graph of the mockups side by side.
Truthfully, when I paint a shadow, I usually just make it a darker version of the base color. Now, I ususlly mix black with the base color to darken it for this purpose, but that's not the same as actually painting the shadow black.
Thinking about shading for this post gave me the idea to try seeing how using complementary colors to shade would work. I painted six circles in different colors. Then, mixing each color with it's complement, I used that complementary color to paint a shadow on each circle. So, to put it more simply, I mixed orange with blue and painted a shadow on the orange circle, red with green and painted a shadow on the red circle, and so forth.
I wasn't crazy about the results, so I decided to try glazing some of the dominant color, so red over the green shadow on the red circle, and orange over the blue shadow on the orange circle, etc, to see if I could get any better results.
I think using a complementary color to shade works well when the complement is a cool color. Meaning that using blue to shade orange, green to shade red, and purple to shade yellow can work, but the reverse, orange to shade blue, red to shade green, and yellow to shade purple, does not. This is because shadows must always be cooler than the base color. That's because not as much light is hitting those areas and when less light is hitting an area, colors just appear cooler and grayer. I'm sure you've noticed if you've ever looked around a dark room, there's not as much light.
But I must emphasize that even using complementary colors that are cooler than the base to shade can only work if those colors are muted. No color will work as shadow if that color is bright.
But maybe you're thinking, okay, so I won't use black for shadows cast by objects, but what about using black for shadows cast by an object? Black is a perfect color for those right? Well, lets try this out with my painting "Cody The Dog.
In the image below, I have the painting as is, with the shadows cast by Cody's paws colored a darker purple and in one pic where I've colored the shadows cast by his front paws black.
I think you can see, even for shadows cast by objects, black is probably still not the best choice. It just doesn't look natural.
In the video embedded below, I'm demonstrating using size and placement to create depth in my landscape. Things that are closer to the viewer I made larger and sharper and things that are farther away I made smaller and more fuzzy.
I also painted the mountains, not in neat rows, but with some placed here and there.
I was almost finished with my painting of Katie and Adelaya, but I knew I had to paint Katie's glasses. I remember looking at them and thinking, how am I going to paint those, but it was a lot easier than I thought.
It came down to using a liner brush and a transparent white. In this case, I used zinc white from Royal Talens's Amsterdam Standard Series line.
Watch the video below to find out why I chose to use the method I did and see how I got this look.
I just used a the Plein Air Naturecore Board from Fredrix Canvas for the first time. On it, I painted a portrait of my cousin Katie with her daughter Adelaya.
As with all my acrylic pieces, I started with a black and white underpainting.
After I got Katie's skin to look the way I wanted, I decided to paint her eyes. As you can see, though, from this pic, I have too much contrast between her irises and corneas. This is giving her eyes an unnatural, almost glow in the dark effect.
To counteract this effect, I glazed ultramarine blue mixed with ivory black over Katie's irises. Bye bye, creepy glow.
Learning my lesson last week, I mixed green into the pink I used for Katie's lips.
When it came time to paint Adelaya's face, I decided to start with the darkest shadows and build on top of those. Here I've glazed grayish blue, mixed with orange, over the dark shadows that I'd already painted on Adelaya's face.
Then I went over her whole face with a layer of pink mixed with green.
For the uppermost layer, I mixed zinc white, transparent raw sienna, yellow, and just a bit of purple so the yellow wouldn't be overpowering.
Now, I never use straight yellow for blonde hair. I always mix some purple into it to make it more neutral and therefore more natural looking. But this time, I used even less yellow than usual. In fact, I mixed just a little bit of my purple and yellow mixture into some gray, made by mixing zinc white and ivory black, because I wanted her hair to have a grayish tone.
For the darker, more shaded parts of Adelaya's hair, I mixed some transparent burnt sienna into the aforementioned grayish yellow color.
I used a mixture of cyan and ultramarine blue with zinc white to paint Adelaya's top. I mixed, not only more of my blues, but also black in to make the shadows. Black dulls colors a bit and shadows don't work if they're too bright.
I knew I would need to add lighter color as well as darker color to make this look three dimensional, so I mixed some of my cyan and ultramarine mixture into some titanium white now. I wanted to color to sit on top of my base and not disappear into it, which is what would happen if I'd used zinc white. At first, I actually made the highlights a bit too light, so I went over them with a glaze of a darker version of my blue mixture.
I decided to add a streak of darker shading above the white line on the middle of Adelaya's top to give more of tthat depth I was talking about.
So...I have a real mess here. I need to fix it and in this article, I'm going to walk you through the steps I'm taking to do that. First, though, some context. This is a portrait of my cousin Katie with her daughter Adelaya. It's being done in acrylics.
The first thing I'm going to need to do is cancel out this yellow.
To do counteract this, I glazed purple over the top.
To solve the problem of the blue being in too many places, first I glazed over the excess with orange. Orange is the compliment of blue, so it'll cancel it out somewhat.
Next on my agenda will be going over the orange bits with zinc white until they look sufficiently light to me.
Then I layered more of my flesh color over the whole thing to blend it in to the rest of the face more.
Finally, in an effort to get rid of the line of demarcation between the darkness and the rest of her skin, I layered some red over the edges, so it would look more like what was next to it.
I've tried everything I can think of to fix the problem at this point by layering. To recap, I layered orange over the excess blue to neutralize it. Then I layered zinc white over those parts to lighten them. I glazed more of my flesh color over the whole thing to try to blend the blue into the rest of the face and then I glazed red over the outer part of the blue. I've decided to start over from the underpainting at this point.
Now that I'm starting on my color again, I've started with my dark blue gray first.
Then, I started layering the main flesh color on top of that. At this point, I'm already four or five layers in.
I decided to glaze some orange over the blue, in an attempt to tone it down, so it doesn't stand out so much.
After looking at the photo for a while, I saw some noticable pink in the blue-grey shadows on Katie's forehead and left cheek.
Obviously this is just a bit too rosy, though. So I glazed green over it, which is the complement of red and pink, to create the look you see here.
I'd been realizing for a while that I had the blue shadows spread a bit too far. To rectify this, I mixed a bit of transparent raw sienna from the Liquitex heavy body line into some zinc white and layered that on the areas where I'd taken the blue-grey shadows too far.
Now about that orange spot in the middle of her forehead. I went over it with blue and it took the orange right out of it. I also used some flesh color that was slightly darker than what I had originally where the shdow merts the main color on her forehead.
I once got a comment on one of my youtube videos telling me I was just drawing gourds with faces, so I decided to do exactly that. I have a Mommy Gourd, a Daddy Gourd, and two baby gourds.
The message I want to convey here is not to let hate get you down. I can't think of any better way to stick it to your haters than to do exactly what they complained about. You can hear more about my thoughts and see the process of my drawing in the video embedded below.
Drawing while only looking at your subject and not your paper can actually imprint that subject in your mind better than either just looking at it alone, or drawing while looking at your paper would. You will be tempted to look back at your drawing to see how it's coming along, but don't. Also don't be embarrassed if you're drawing comes out looking super ridiculous. The point is not to make a great drawing. If anything, just try to laugh at it.
You can see the process of doing a blind contour and hear more of my thoughts in the video below.
Sometime ago I was inspired by this video to try blending oil pastels with OMS(odorless mineral spirits or odorless paint thinner. The way it works is I dip a brush into the paint thinner and either stroke it onto the pastel stick or rub the stick onto my palette and stroke the oms dipped brush onto it, and "paint" the pastel onto my paper with the brush, rather than simply rubbing it onto the paper straight from the stick.
I'm using 140 pound hot press watercolor paper from Fabriano Studio for this project. I chose to use watercolor paper because I need a paper that I can get wet without it warping and I chose to use hot press, rather than cold press, because it gives me the smooth surface I want. It would be impossible to get the pastel into all the nooks and crannies of the cold press paper, giving me a bumpy look.
So far I've painted lashes with a liner brush,
creating a flesh tone by mixing raw sienna, white, and red pastels with OMS and a brush,
painted thin lines with black pastel, OMS and a liner brush, just to see if I could,
and mixed violet and purple.
What I've Learned
In doing this I've learned that by stroking the pastel onto my palette and dipping my brush with the OMS into that, I'm able to get much more pigment onto my brush than by stroking the brush with the OMS directly onto the stick. I found I can get a much truer, more attractive CVolir by blending out my pastel layers with paint thhinner than I can by layering alone.
I also have to keep in mind that the things I learned about tthe unequal strengths of colors while working in acrylics also applies to pastels. That means that if I want to make orange, I have to put down my yellow more heavily thsn my red, otherwise the the red will take over because it's such a strong color.
I decided to try out how rhe principal of toning down colors with their complements would work when OMS was added into the mix. I set about trying to create a muted yellow by mixing it with its complement, purple. All I ended up getting, though, were varying shades of purple. I demonstrated in my first youtube video about working with oil pastels that purple is much stronger than yellow andI huess I underestimated just how much stronger it was. Just a little more than a dab of the purple can completely take over the yellow.
A while ago, I made a video asserting that you can make great art in any medium. With that in mind, I want to urge you, if you're not satisfied with how your piece is coming out, don't blame your medium.
By the way, just so we're clear, by "bad", I mean that doesn't have the results you were going for.
This was brought to my attention as I've been becoming reacquainted with watercolor after painting almost exclusively in acrylics for years. I did several of the same paintings in both watercolor and acrylics and the acrylic version always come out better than the watercolor versions. Now, I can't say that acrylic is a better medium than watercolor, because I've seen artists who work in watercolor do amazing work.
Something I know from having done the videos I do and looking at the footage I have, is that I spend a lot more time on my acrylic versions of these paintings than on the watercolor versions, sometimes as much as twice as long.
Now, it would be so easy to just say "Well, I guess watercolor isn't as good as acrylics, 'cause look at the results I'm getting with the acrylic paintings that I'm not getting with the watercolor". But what this shows me, is that I need to slow down and take more time with my watercolors to get comparable results to my acrylics.
In other words, I have to accept that if I don't like how my art is coming out, it's not my medium. It's me.
I assure you, no matter what medium you're working in, even if you don't like how you're work is coming out, somewhere, someone else is doing what you would like to do in that medium.
Take this rose for example. I did it in acrylic
As I said before, I really like how the acrylic version came out a lot more. The main reason for this is because the colors are so much more intense. I was afraid to go super dark on the watercolor version. I thought it would look bad with that medium and my work suffered because of it.
The folds of the rose show so much more in the acrylic version and I could have had that in the watercolor version, if I hadn't been afraid to go super dark.
Disclaimer: While any medium can yield great results in the hands of a skilled artist, you do need quality materials. Here are seven of my tips for finding them.
Painter of portraits and wildlife