About Steve Fleming
I am an artist who works in watercolor and acrylic, and I teach both for The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia, as well as workshops across the country and abroad. My goal as an artist is to be creative; my goal as a teacher is to help my students learn to interpret the world around them, not to promote the belief the goal of art is the perfect rendering of a subject. One of my core messages: art is a creative process and is not just the sum total of the work we sell. In this era of digital cameras, I caution artists to look — really look both inside and outside — for the subject matter that lights our artistic fires. Otherwise, our work will be lacking everything but technique.
Enjoy. — Steve Fleming
The “Creative Jumpstart” section of Steve’s blog is designed to help all artists, regardless of medium, with ideas to get them thinking in expressive ways. They are intended to take about 30 minutes to an hour to finish and are warm-ups not finished paintings. Each one has a specific focus, such as gestural drawing with color accents, and they will be of value to artists of all levels. I plan to do at least 1 per week and hope to challenge readers to really broaden their horizons and move beyond their comfort zones. Along the way the artists will enhance their skills in drawing, color usage and have general less fear when being creative.
Watercolor Painting Tutorial: “Tranquility, Reflections”
(Click Images for Larger Views)
In this Demonstration we will be working on created a nice peaceful painting that is emphasizing the simplicity of calm water reflections. Drawing the boats will be fairly easy if you remember to keep them flat and in perspective with a low horizon. Here goes have a nice time with this it should air out all of your brushwork practice.
15 x 22 watercolor paper cold pressed drawing with a 4B pencil
wet the paper completely and let the water set up for a few minutes and try to angle the paper higher at the top than the bottom so the water will run down toward the bottom. This will keep it from pooling in the middle of the paper. Run a couple passes of Raw Sienna paint horizontally in the sky followed by a couple horizontal passes of Cobalt and Cerulean Blue. Pull some of the blue into the water under the boats.
Using a round brush a size 12 works for me pull some Cobalt Blue at the horizon line indicating a loose feeling of distant land then drop in some Raw Sienna. Don’t rub these colors or they will turn a nasty grey you want the colors to stay separate. Pull a little Raw Sienna into the foreground water.
Staying with the number 12 round brush and painting with the side of the brush not the point start up in the trees with a mixture of Sap Green, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue begin to get a nice rough textural passage of trees make sure you are leaving openings in the trees. This involves the trees and the sky and makes the trees look real. A point I need to make here is that when I say use the colors I am not brushing them together in a big pool of mushy colors I am adding colors to the mixture and letting the added colors have a voice or show up on the paper. Using the side of the brush get a wash of Raw Sienna with a hint of Sap Green onto the rocks. Leave lights on the rocks and remember to cut around the top edges of the boats.
Still using the round brush I add a mixture of Alizirin Crimson and Burnt Sienna to the rocks creating shadow forms and I leave some Raw Sienna showing for the light. I really clean up the edge of the boats not cutting them out of the background.
detail of the rocks and the cutting around of the boats, notice the texture at the bottom edge of the rocks it looks like water moving, the darker pieces on the rocks is the Alizirin, Burnt Sienna mixture with some Ultramarine Blue added to get a rich dark. I drop that in while everything is still damp so the edges will stay lively.
I repeat all of the colors from above with a series of very fluid brush marks to create the feeling of gentle movement in the water. Notice that I am not trying to exactly repeat the objects that are being reflected I am just getting the impression of the objects. Don’t be afraid to use lots of color and bold brushwork. leave lights and leave the color of the sky. I then used a Raw Sienna mixture with some of the left over Alizirin mixture to paint the warmer sides of the boats and dropped in a little Cobalt Blue on the transom of the left boat. I used a cool grey, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, mixture to indicate the shadow forms inside the boats and dropped few dark accents into these to make them more vibrant.
Add in some dark lines and a few dark dots and dashes and the painting is finished. I used a number 6 liner brush to make the fine detail marks in the water and in the trees above. Use a lot of restraint when doing details nothing ruins a painting quicker than over doing the details. Enjoy painting this it will test your brushwork and application of paint skills.