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21  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / "Alive," final piece in Sentient Machinery collection- lots of process pics!! on: March 07, 2012 08:58:09 PM
Yay, this is my fave piece of my "I, Human" collection!! I love Daft Punk, as much for their beats as for their enigmatic, machine-longing-to-be-human personas. This is a larger piece, 15x22", and really saturated and vibrant.



(Closeup)



I've been getting a lot of questions about this technique and requests for process pics (it seems that a lot of people associate watercolors with sheer, pastel washes of tint, depicting pastoral scenes or animals). I thought I would include process pics showing what I do, with a little explanation on each of how to do it. Would that make this a mini-tute? I'm not sure, but if anyone decides to experiment, I really want to see the result!! Caution: this is a long post, LOL. OK, on with business....

OK, I always use gel watercolors in the tube. They are so much less work, because you don't have to sit there and scrub a pan of dried cakes to rehydrate them, only to come up with a pale wash and a ruined brush. With the tube paints, you can use them completely undiluted if you want, and really get that vibrancy. I also use soft, thick, squirrel hair brushes that hold a lot of water and paint, because using a lot of both is the secret to really saturated color.

Also remember that there's no such thing as a mistake! As Bob Ross says, "there's no mistakes, just happy accidents." Smiley One of the best things about water color is that it's so forgiving. Put too much or too dark a color on? Just rinse your brush, dab it on a paper towel, and use it to sop up the excess. Rinse again, and use it to spread and blend whats left. Went out of the lines or dripped in the middle of your lovely ocean vista? Here's the best part- if you take a stiff-bristled paintbrush with clean water, you can scrub at an area (dabbing with a paper towel), until you erase the offending area. If the paper pills, let it dry, and smooth it out with some fine-grit sandpaper.

One more thing for this technique- think HIGH contrasts! The darks should be super dark, the lights equally light. Think more like black and white, and less like dark grey and light grey. The contrast is what gives these paintings such an eye-catching quality- no hazy, pastel washes here! OK, now really on to business...

Mini-Tute! (Lots of hints and tips throughout)

So first, I always sketch out what I'm going to do; I never just start slapping paint down. The technique for watercolor is really different than with oil or acrylic. With them, you paint the darkest stuff first, and add the highlights last; you create the object first, then add the dimension. With watercolor, you paint the lightest parts first, then the darkest; in other words, you paint the dimension first, then create the object around it. You have to know which areas will be the lightest, because those might not have any paint at all.

I sketch very lightly (I increased the contrast here so you can see), and sometimes I do the bulk of the sketching on typing paper, then do a rubbing onto the watercolor paper, if I haven't drawn the subject before and expect to do a lot of erasing. I've also been known to do a pencil rubbing of an image from a magazine or google image search, when trying to learn how to draw certain proportions. No sense in ruining the good paper!



Since I have to decide where my highlights are first, I decided that the "sun" is shining from the upper left of the page, meaning that the lower right will be in shadow. I don't use brushstrokes, but instead use a soft squirrel hair brush that holds a lot of water, and sort of dab it all over. I purposely don't blend the colors smooth, but leave it "chunky," so that later I have definite contrasts in shade or color that I can outline.



I do a lot of layering with the watercolor, using a lot of paint and a lot of water, to get the deep, rich colors. Here I'm continuing to layer the color, being sure to keep the lightest parts in the upper left free from paint for now (or with just a very sheer layer).



Here's the fun part, adding the lights! Here's a little tip for painting light: never paint the light itself, only what's around it. Ever see Star Wars? Notice the light sabres- they're not actually red and blue, they're white! The color is just a halo around them. So when painting light, leave the actual light white, and paint a haze of color around the light, with the most color saturation concentrated right against the white. Even if it's a white light- the white halo will wash out the background, creating that glare. There, I've spilled Thomas Kinkaide's secret. Go forth and make millions. Smiley



More lights! I like how the LED strip around Tomas' (silver) ear came out (I added more contrast in later pics). All the colors on Guy's (gold) helmet are flashing lights. His is my favorite, and it's kind of funny that his helmet is so vibrant, since he's the quiet, shy, introverted one.



Now I've added the face covers. Since I wanted more of a flat finish here, I went ahead and used brushstrokes, but still left light areas in the upper left. Black takes a few layers to really look saturated, as you'll see in upcoming pics. With watercolor, you'll want to let the paint dry totally before adding another layer, or you risk your paper pilling or warping, creating potentially undesirable puddles.



I've added the leather jackets (they look grey because this is just the first layer). With clothing, I'm not usually too detailed. The subject is the face, and generally I'll just do a skeleton outline of the clothing, and the viewer's mind fills in the details. Smiley As long as you get the basic shape, you get the dimension. Another tip- I always add a hint of shoulder when I do a portrait, because otherwise it's just a weird random head floating in space. It anchors the face, and provides greater depth to a painting, since the viewer can imagine the rest of the body just out of sight.



Now I'm adding the color! Again, I use a LOT of paint and a LOT of water and a BIG soft brush, always dabbing, never stroking. Let the colors blend, blob, and flow how they want, leaving areas of light and dark, and some with no paint at all (this will give a lot of dimension). I always butt the color up to the subject, but never closer than about 1/4 inch. That little slice of white really makes the subject pop, and ensures that it doesn't all become a muddy mess. I also make the part next to the subject the darkest, so that it pops even more (you'll see in the next pic). The splatters are from blowing through a straw, or just leaning over and blowing on the page (although I've dipped my boobs in the paint a few to many times to keep doing that).



First layer of black, while it's still wet.



I've gone through and deepened the contrast on the helmets more (meaning, I've made the shadows darker), as well as in the black cloud around them. Now I've started the white outlining. You can do this with a liner brush and white paint mixed to about the consistency of ink, or do what I do, and get an ordinary white gel pen from the office store. Mine is a Pentel, but Bic sells them, too. For this, I outline around anywhere there is a sharp contrast in color or shade. I try to make each line closed, or have it end either against another line or off into the white page. It just looks odd with too many random white lines floating all over the place, but a closed line looks intentional.



Even though you can't really tell in the pic, there are color variances within the black, where the colors underneath are peeking through. Those are the areas in black that I'm outlining. I'm also outlining in the colored areas.



I suppose I should've done this with one of the darker colors, but it was getting late, lol. Here is the yellow before I had done much outlining, so you can see the variations in the color...



...and now you can see where I've outlined those variations.



Here's a closeup and full shot of the final products!! I added some little twinkles to the LED's in Guy's helmet (full disclosure- I want one of my own. I would totes go grocery shopping in that thing). To make twinkles, just do a little 4 or 5 pointed star in white over the color haze around any light.



22  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Re: Questionable Robot Series on: March 06, 2012 04:01:46 PM
Love them! I'm currently painting a collection of sentient machinery, so these are right up my alley! Very nice work, you're a crafter after my own heart. Smiley
23  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Re: "A.I." part of my Sentient Machinery collection on: March 06, 2012 08:38:33 AM
Thanks everyone! And thanks, Blacksmith- that really does help. I came up with about that price range too, once I added up hours, a little bit for supplies, and the frame/mat expenses. I suppose I gotta start somewhere!

Fancybutch: No, the latex is easy to remove. It has a rubbery consistency, and you can feel it if you run your hand over the paper. I just rub at the corner of an area with the butt end of a paintbrush (so I don't accidentally get oils from my finger rubbed all over the page), then just lift it up and pull. It comes off like a mask. I've also found that since it sticks really well to itself, it's easier for me to just keep a wad of dried latex in with my paints, and use that like a kneaded eraser to pick up the latex. either way works!

I just use ordinary colorless masking fluid by Windsor and Newton, about $10 a bottle. I've been through about 1.5 bottles in a year and a half, but I have also masked off some pretty big areas and wasted a lot from a spill, LOL. There are two kinds, one labeled "colorless," and the other is regular. They both look white in the bottle, but one dries clear and the other yellow. The yellow one stained my painting once, so I don't use it. And it's not like you can't see the clear, it's raised and shiny and very visible, even when dry. The other thing is, the latex won't work well on handmade paper. It's not pressed to a dense enough texture, and the latex will pull the paper up with it when you peel it off. Ask me how I know... Angry Just be sure to use watercolor or drawing paper, and you'll be fine! Cheesy
24  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / "A.I." part of my Sentient Machinery collection on: March 05, 2012 07:48:32 PM
My most recent biomechanical exploration! This called "A.I." (artificial intelligence). I'm so in love with how her face turned out, she has such an enigmatic smile, IMO. Smiley The lines in her hair are circuitry from the CPU of my old computer that I tore apart, which I thought was apropos since the CPU is the "brain" of the computer.

On a side note (and I'm posting this in general discussion, too), does anyone have any suggestions on how to price art? I really have no idea where to start, and am getting kind of a stockpile of art with a lot of buyers-in-waiting. Any websites or resources I should check out? I know that the gallery will have suggestions for the stuff they're displaying, I'm really thinking more about the art I make that's not specifically for a gallery (and won't have commission shaved off the top).

And even though I haven't mentioned it on other posts, C&C is welcome on all my arts. Smiley

Anyway, I give you "A.I."
14x17" watercolor

(full image)



(closeup)


25  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / "Heart of Steel," part of my Sentient Machinery collection on: March 05, 2012 07:38:51 PM
I'm back with some new robot watercolors!! This little guy just wants to love, but he doesn't realize that he already can. <3

8.5x11" watercolor, "Heart of Steel"

26  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Re: "Gloria's Robbie," another in a series of sentient machinery on: February 29, 2012 01:26:16 PM
Haha, thanks! I'll take "Good luck," no superstition here!

I was a little worried that I made the eyes too small to really show expression, but I decided that meh, it's art, and it doesn't have to be perfect. So I'm happy with it. Smiley
27  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / "Gloria's Robbie," another in a series of sentient machinery on: February 29, 2012 09:39:51 AM
Yay, another robot! I have a real love for the idea of sentient machinery, and this is another in the same vein as "Pygmalion," one of my recent paintings that I posted. I have my third Final Friday show coming up (third in only 5 months! Not bad for someone who's "not an artist"), and I plan to do a series of androids, where the lines between humanity and machinery are blurred.

Robbie is from one of Asimov's short stories, about a nursemaid robot who experiences deep emotion, but is only capable of expressing it through his eyes. He is loved by his charge as if he were human, and expresses his love for her in return in every way but verbal. "Gloria's Robbie" is 14x17" watercolor on paper.

Here is the full shot:



Here is a close-up for detail:



Here is "Pygmalion;" I plan to create the robot series around these two. Link to the post about this one: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=404143.0

28  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Re: Branching out- "Pygmalion" on: February 18, 2012 05:06:41 PM
Thank you! I love this one; every time I look at it, I imagine an Asimov-esque story in which a roboticist falls in love with his creation. I imagine that this image is how he sees her, with the lines between her machinery and humanity blurred. Smiley
29  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Re: Branching out- "Chrysalis" on: February 18, 2012 05:03:19 PM
Thank you! I really surprised myself when I did these pieces; I've never been what I would call good at facial features, but I'll admit I was kind of giddy at the end result, LOL! Smiley
30  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Re: My second gallery show and art auction! on: February 18, 2012 04:59:30 PM
Thank you both so much! I'm already making plans for next year, maybe to try something totally out of the box, like stained glass or metal smithing or something. This was a really fun and rewarding experience. Smiley
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