Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Demonstration by Sharon Lynn Williams

I snapped these lovely Irises last year, and thought that they would make a good subject for a painting. The light and shadow patterns are super, but the composition needs some imagining. Perfect fodder for the floral unit my advanced watermedia class is doing.

We have covered value studies before, but this time I had them paint, rather than draw them. Each person was to cover their support with a middle gray. Then they were to put in the white gouache and black paint to develop the composition, moving back and forth until a satisfactory composition is found. It is a great exercise that forces you to ensure that values are linked, and puts more pressure on the design than on the objects in the design. You can see I took a lot of liberties with the photo. The tricky part is to only keep to 3 values, so parts of the flower that are in middle value would be the same middle gray as the background, creating a linkage from the flower to the ground. Very different way to use your brain.

Then we did colour studies from our black and whites. To be successful at this part, you have to remember the other biggies: contrasts of saturation (bright against dull) and colour temperatures (warm against cool), as well as use of complementary colours. After the chosen colours are blocked in with hard edges, as in the B&W, some edges are chosen to be softened to create transitions between value shapes. You can have some of the different values in the larger value shapes, as long as the shape remains dominantly the value you have chosen. These studies are only 4x6", so there isn't a lot of room to play around! It is fun to then work from the B&W to make the painting any colour you chose -another way to get past using the photo as a direct reference, allowing your creativity to come into play. We then painted 22x30" works from the two studies. I will post mine tomorrow.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Watercolour Demonstration continued

This is how the left corner of the painting looked when I stopped at the last post. I focused here so you could see the before and after.

I cut a mask using a heavy piece of plastic (the kind from boxes) and scissors. I cut around the large petal in the front of the flower. Then with a damp soft silk sponge, I gently lifted the colour from the petal, blotting with a dry kleenex before lifting up the plastic. I could have lifted all the way back to white if I wanted, without harming the paper, this way.

You can see that the front petal now stands out nicely in front of the back petals.

This time, I cut a mask from some 'watercolour washout tape' with an exacto knife. The tape is heavier than regular packing tape and has less stick so it is less likely to damage the paper when it is removed. Packing tape will work however, you just need to be a bit more careful with the knife not to score the paper. For some reason you can tell when you have gone through the washout tape and it doesn't damage the paper. I lifted with the soft sponge the same way.

"My Poppies", watercolour, 6.5 x 10.5"

This is the final painting. You can compare this with the end of the last post to see the results of the lifting. Because the paint is put on in a juicy way without rubbing the paint into the paper, it is easy to lift back. This lifting not only sets petals in better approximation to the others, the lifted petal takes on a velvety translucent texture, just what you want a petal to look like. I also lifted out the bud in the centre with a mask, and then put a light yellow-green wash over it. Voila, a bud that looks like it is behind the flower.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Watercolour Demonstration

We are into a floral unit in my Wednesday morning watercolour class. This is a demo I did to show the students how to begin with a dark yet lively background wash, before putting in the flower colours. This is especially important for white or light coloured flowers, because the tendency is to make the petals too dark in the beginning, when painting them against the white of the paper. The dark washes remain lively if painted with very juicy paint, changing the colours every few strokes using a 1" flat brush. As shown in the above photo, I chose a large, but defined negative shape to begin with, puddling in the colour. While that wash was still wet, I softened some of the edges with a clean, slightly damp brush. This ensures that the flowers will not look cut-out and pasted on the background.

I continued in this same way, painting in all the negative spaces, softening their edges before moving on to the next shape. I puddled some orange into the dark wash to give the hint of other flowers in the background.

Then I began putting the first washes into the poppies, moving around to let some areas dry before coming back in with further washes to they wouldn't bleed together. I tried to use a variety of reds, yellows and violets to keep the colour interesting. The colour near the middles of the flowers is warm, and then it cools as it moves away from the centre. It is important to paint from a puddle of rich colour so that it will stay wet long enough to be able to puddle other colours into it.

Now all the orangey reds are in. I have left some white space that I will come into later with some lighter yellows and peaches.

Now all the white paper has been covered up, and this is the end of this stage of the painting. Notice how the original softening of the edges remain, making the flowers blend a bit with the background. Stay tuned next week for the exciting (I hope!) conclusion, where I will be demonstrating lifting out -something that I believe is very important to get the look of translucency of the petals.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Upcoming Show Information!

This is the poster for my upcoming show of the best of my plein-air paintings from last season. I will have 32 images in all, and they can be seen here. I am very proud of the work, and I hope a lot of people show up. If you are in town, please drop in -the show will be up until June 20th.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"From Ghost Lake Campground", oil painting by Sharon Lynn Williams

"From Ghost Lake Campground", oil painting, 11 x 14"
$650 framed, FREE S&H

In getting ready for my upcoming show at Arts On Atlantic Gallery at the end of the month, I was going through some paintings that I started on location, but was unable to complete on site for one reason or another. I decided that this one had 'good bones' so decided to finish it in the studio with the help of photos I took. The plein air part was done just as the sun was beginning to go down and the wind was coming up. I can still vividly remember how I felt at the time, and think I was able to capture that in the studio.

To puchase this painting or to commission one of your own, please email me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Fly Fishing On The Bow", plein air oil painting by Sharon Lynn Williams

"Fly Fishing On The Bow", 9 x 12", plein air oil painting

I had the pleasure of painting out this week with my friend and super artist Ingrid Christensen. I decided to tackle this fly fisherman to see if I could do it quickly and with an equal sense of the energy and persistence. My painting is nothing at all like Ingrid's (I only wish!) but I am happy with how it turned out. Now to try to get some of Ingrid's looseness of stroke...


To purchase this painting or to commission one of your own, please email me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"A Splash of Fall", watercolor and gouache painting by Sharon Lynn Williams

"A Splash of Fall", watercolor and gouache, 8x8"

This is a demonstration painting that I did for my Monday Mixed Media class. I began with a colourful watercolor underwash, and when it was dry, I added blue watercolour mixed with a juicy load of titanium white gouache to negatively paint the sky area -making the trees by not painting them. I added some translucent and opaque strokes to set up the bank area and a bit of opaque dry brush to create the sparkle on the water, and lifted the gouache to reveal the underpainting for the sun.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Plein Air Oil Paintings from Mentor's Day

"Early Sring -Leighton Centre", 8x10", plein air oil painting

Yesterday was "Mentor's Day" at the Leighton Centre, just outside of Calgary. This is the third time I have had the honor of being selected to be one of the mentors chosen to share my knowledge with about 35 eager students at the LC. It was a rather blustery day, although the sun was shinning most of the day. I was slated to do plein air oil painting, and the above image is my first painting, done out on the exposed ridge. I was pretty cold despite the multiple layers by the time this was done. It isn't a very good photograph I am afraid -hard to capture the darks when the paint is still wet and shiny.

"Spring Skies-LC", 9x12", plein air oil painting

This is the second painting of the day. This time I was smart and parked myself on the balcony away from the wind. I had many more observers for this one -I wonder why?? This pretty much captures the feeling of the afternoon, and I am really happy with it. I had to do a tiny bit of tweaking on this one when I got home I will admit.


Thursday, May 6, 2010


More mugging up for the camera -did I tell you Evan is an actor??

Evan's choice for an art adventure was to take in the Rodin Museum. This is set in a wonderful old hotel that was at one time the Rodin atelier, along with studios for greats such as Matisse. This is one of the sculptures that I was really taken with -I have never seen an expression like this on a sculpture before.

Another of the Rodin sculptures- this is one of many that are in the outdoor gardens, where the light plays off the bronze reflecting the surrounding elements, giving off amazing colours and values. Bernini is still my favorite sculpture artist, but these, in this setting, really took my breath away.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Paris -The First Time!

This is my son Evan. We played a lot with photography throughout our trip, it was so much fun. Here we are taking advantage of the rainy spring weather with a leap of faith.

No introductions needed for this one. The nice light happened just as the sun was going down. The trees weren't leaved out yet, which in a way was good as they didn't obstruct our view.

Artsy photo taken in Sepia.

One of the wonderful sculptures at the Louve, "Cupid and Psyche" particularly took my breath away. The natural lighting coming in from the large windows really made the sculptures take on a live of their own. Also capturing my imagination was Michelangeo's "Dying Slave". Hardly looked like he was shedding this mortal coil to me, maybe dying to be touched...


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pantheon in Paris

This is the Pantheon in Paris. We had a Paris Museum pass, which is the thing to get if you want to take in some culture without waiting in long lineups. So we thought we would check out this great monument to the French Revolution. It is an amazingly beautiful building that has some great paintings and Foucaults's pendulum, which has been swinging there since 1851.

This painting of St John (I think) was a lucky shot. The painting has painted rays of sun shining down on the apostle, and I just happened to be there when the real sun was shining though the stained glass windows in exactly the same slant as that in the painting. Cool eh?

I haven't been painting since I got back from France, so I thought I would give you a bit of travelogue and some cool photos I took while there.