Posted tagged ‘process’

By All Means Create

August 14, 2014

We’ve all had it, that voice that says we can’t do something, or that we can’t do it well enough, or we don’t have the time. Perhaps we need to listen to Van Gogh who said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” The staff at Opus Art Supplies has made a video illustrating this quote. It was a nice little reminder for me this morning and thus I wanted to share it.

Beginners Watercolour Lesson – Value Sketch and Negative Space

September 27, 2013

Over the last couple of years I have been fine tuning my beginners watercolour classes for adults and children. I usually start off with the same lessons for all ages, just moving a little faster, and into more detail with the adults. After teaching the colour wheel and basic brush techniques there are several lessons I run through. I have found that my own watercolour skills are always improved every time I demonstrate these lessons, and therefore recommend beginners and seasoned watercolourists to run through these simple “warm ups” every once in awhile.

Maple seed value study in gray watercolour.

Maple seed value study in gray watercolour.

The Value Sketch teaches us to look at the values in real objects and paint from life instead of a photo. I bring to class some simple found objects like leaves or maple seeds. Sometimes I have the students use only one colour, like gray, and then all they worry about is the intensity of the colour and watering it down for the light areas. Other times I have students try to mix the actual colours on the found object. We mix puddles of the colours in our tray, and leave room to add water for lighter values. Once the colours are ready then we can start the painting.

Value color sketch of maple seeds and feather

Value color sketch of maple seeds and feather

We start with a light pencil sketch. For young children I may allow them to trace the object so they don’t get frustrated with the drawing. Then we apply 3 or 4 layers of paint, working from the lightest areas of the object to the darkest. These are small paintings, so very little paint should be on the brush. We don’t want the colours to run. Then wait a couple minutes for the wash to dry before painting the next layer of detail. The last layer is the darkest areas and then the shadow under the object is added to make it look like the leaf or seed is sitting on a table.

The Value Sketch is a quick lesson so I usually do a second lesson in the last half of the class. Since you rarely use white paint in watercolours, but instead leave the white paper free of paint, it’s good to have an exercise that helps students be more aware of the paper and leaving areas blank. Negative space drawings can be taught if time permits, or you can go directly into an exercise of painting a white fence.

Fence Negative Space Watercolour

Fence Negative Space Watercolour

We start by lightly drawing the posts and rails using only one line each in the middle. It’s nice to give a little perspective as the fence goes away from you and perhaps add a gate. Next we mix our paint colour puddles, which are the colours of the background of grass or bushes. When we’re ready we can start by prepping the paper with plain water in each negative space area, or we can just jump in and start painting. Try to load enough paint on the brush so that you can finish a whole rectangular space between the posts and rails. Be careful not to get too close to your pencil lines as then you’ll have a very skinny fence! When one negative space is done then load up your brush again and paint the next one. Dip in different colours to add more interest to your background. Be careful not to have each negative space a different colour as that wouldn’t look natural, but instead dip into a second colour halfway through painting one area and work fast so the colours blend on the paper. When dry you could add some detail of grass blades in front of your fence. Then make your white fence 3 dimensional by choosing a direction for the sunlight and painting shadows on one side of each rail and post. When the painting is totally dry lightly erase your pencil lines.

If you have any questions about these exercises please write to me in the comment section.  Some books I consulted while planning my lessons this past summer were: “Watercolour For Starters” by Paul Talbot-Greaves, and “Watercolour Challenge, Techniques in Practice” Channel 4 Books.

Listen to “Monk Soup”

February 28, 2013
Monk Soup cover art by T Kaczor

Monk Soup cover art by T Kaczor

Feeling cold during these last days of winter? Rain getting you down? Have a listen to Monk Soup, my most recent (complete) song. “Soup” because it sounds like the rain pelting your window, and the sucking mud on your boots as you trudge through the wild trails. “Monk”, well because of the bells, what else? Or maybe it’s because I feel like I’m stuck inside, contemplating life, on these dark days, and praying for the spring sun to arrive. What do you think?

Click here for a link to the song on Reverbnation   http://www.reverbnation.com/c./a4/8860781/270585/Artist/270585/Artist/link

How to Draw from a Poor Photograph

January 4, 2013
"Riley and CJ" by Tiana Kaczor, Fall 2012, pastel and conte.

“Riley and CJ” by Tiana Kaczor, Fall 2012, pastel and conte.     Click on images to view larger.

I had a commission that was a Christmas present, so could not post it online until after the holiday. I am now at liberty to share this work with you.

“Riley and CJ” posed a problem for me as I usually work from photographs that show enough detail so that I can create quite a realistic art piece. However the photo that was provided to me was very pixelated. I am not an artist who usually draws from my imagination, except in my private sketchbook, so I would not want to take artistic licence with this commission and just “make up” the details. Instead I decided to try a different style, working like the Impressionists with dots and dashes of colour, and a different medium, chosing pastels and conte. The client agreed to my style change and I set off to create a realistic drawing of a pixelated photo.

Tiana's process of drawing Riley from photo and photocopy.

Tiana’s process of drawing Riley from photo and photocopy.

“Work with what you’ve got.” is a rule I follow a lot in my artmaking. Whether it’s taking whatever materials I can find to make an assemblage instead of buying special sculpture supplies, or using the qualities of a photograph to determine the detail and style of the image when put into a different medium like paint or pastel. Kind of a bit like that saying “When the world gives you lemons make lemonade,” isn’t it?

Tiana and Warriors on SHAW TVs go! Vancouver

October 12, 2012

Stephen Miller and I were interviewed for “go! Vancouver” the morning of the BC Lions Society’s Terracotta Warrior Banquet and Auction. You can find the segment at the 3:55 mark in the video, after the yoga studio segment. I’m always surprised how long it takes to shoot a TV show or film. In this case I was there for over an hour, getting wired up, walking through different shots, and answering the questions. Thank you to Mana Mansour and her videographer for making this a fun experience.

Grand Prix competition piece for sale

October 5, 2012
Tiana creates during Steveston's Grand Prix of Art 2012

Tiana creates during Steveston’s Grand Prix of Art 2012

A couple weekends ago I competed in Steveston’s Grand Prix of Art. We were told our location only minutes before the race, and then had 3 hours to complete a finished work of art, whether it be drawing or painting. http://grandprixofart.com/?p=890

This is the first time I’ve ever entered a plein air competition and decided to keep things less messy by using conte and pastels instead of paint. The weather was rather chilly and an hour into the race my fingers started to freeze up. Luckily my parents came by and brought me a hot chocolate. Thanks also to Eva at Cannery Cafe for offering to bring me something hot.

"Pieces and Points" conte and pastel, 8x12, for sale $200 framed, $170 mat only.

“Pieces and Points” conte and pastel, 8×12, for sale $200 framed, $170 mat only.

It was great creating on the streets of Steveston as it gave me direct contact with the public; art can be such a solitary activity a lot of the time, working away in ones studio. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to take a peek at my picture and encourage me to finish in the 3 hour time limit. It wasn’t easy working so fast with no break but I did finish “Pieces and Points” just as the Cannery horn blew to signal the stop of the race. The title was chosen because the store Pieces is in my drawing, and points refers to the pointillism style I used, which turned out to look a bit like snow falling. (Maybe that was subliminal because I was cold!)

Tiana at her station on Moncton for the Steveston Grand Prix

Tiana at her station on Moncton for the Steveston Grand Prix

My 8″ x 12″ pastel and conte drawing of Moncton Street titled “Pieces and Points”  is for sale at $200 framed, or $170 with just the mat.

Beginners Watercolour Lesson – Form and Value

August 11, 2012

I don’t think I’ve ever posted and art lesson on my blog, but I realized the other day that there are a lot of people on the internet looking for instruction on the web, including myself. I often turn to the internet to search for lesson ideas, whether I use them directly, or indirectly when they spark an idea of my own. I’ve also learned a few things from my students this week and thought I would share that with people outside the classroom.

Cherries watercolour value notes

Cherries watercolour value notes

I’ve been teaching an adult watercolour class one evening a week, and this week also did 4 days in a row of a teen class and a pre-teen (9 to 12-year-old) class. I know there are many teachers (including myself) who believe in letting the creativity flow freely out of their students. Give them the materials, a subject, and let them go to it. However, I realized this week that direct, step by step instruction is often a better way for students to learn. This was highly evident when I worked on a First Nations reserve and we implemented a teacher directed reading program. Teacher does something and then the students copy it. My adult watercolour students this week said they learned more when I painted the steps and they followed along than when I just told them some tips and let them work through the process themselves.

For the 4 day week-long class for the children I broke the lessons down into 3 areas: colour, form and value, and texture and pattern. Here is the warm up for the form and value day:

Watercolour cherries– Perfect for this time in summer when the fruit is ripe, however I did not bring in real cherries but asked the students to paint from memory. Cherries are a basic circle that they can easily practice layering paint on to make the objects appear three dimensionally round.

Watercolour value notes from class painted examples.

Watercolour value notes from class painted examples.

1. Pencil draw 3 circles. Overlap one. Draw stems, straight lines that go a little into the top of the circles. Draw a “happy face smile” curve under the stem line for the top dimple on the cherry.

2. Mix some blue purple. Add lots of water to make it a light value. Paint loosely, and quickly inside the pencil drawn cherry using U shaped strokes, not straight strokes which would flatten the object. Leave a tiny dot or two of white paper showning – this is the shine on the cherry.

3. Repeat the painting step 3 to 4 more times, each time making the purple less watered down and thus darker. Paint further towards the edges of the cherry with each darker colour. Also remember where your light source is – one side of the cherry will be darker than the other. Letting the paint dry between each layer will keep the shades seperate. Painting the layers quickly while each is still wet will cause the shades to flow into each other. This can make smoother tansitions between the values, but can also be hard to control and if too wet the colours will run all over the place. Practice both ways.

After the cherries I let the students try other objects of their own choosing. They painted apples, oranges, grapes, cut watermelon… I was hungry for lunch and painted hamburgers and hot dogs! All levels from adult to child enjoyed this exercise. I had a teen who even practiced it the next day when she had some time near the end of the class. I also had a parent come to me and tell me how impressed they were with their child’s painted cherries.

If you try this exercise please let me know how it went and whether this quick lesson description gave enough detail. I also must give a credit of thanks to Alwyn Crawshaw, as a couple of his books gave me some help in planning this lesson.