Sunday, February 21, 2016

WIP - Green Sea Turtle

WIP - body and shell segments painted
It's time for an update on my progress on the Green Sea Turtle painting (I introduced this WIP in an earlier post).  This part, painting in the body and shell segments, was super fun!

I started with the shell segments.  My first step for each segment was to paint a wash of Quinacridone Gold throughout the segment.  While the wash was wet, I dropped in some Ultramarine around the outer edges to create a wet-into-wet mixing of green.  I went in again with Indanthrone Blue for the very outer edge.  The wash was still damp by the time I introduced touches of Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Violet.

I approached the body segments very similarly, though I was shooting for more red-brown tones rather than green for the shell.  I started with a wash of Quinacridone Gold, then dropped in mixes of Burnt Sienna and Quinacridone Violet, mostly along the outer edges.  The final step for each body segment was some Indanthrone Blue along the outer edges.  I often did not bother to wash my brush before dipping into the Indanthrone Blue, so I was actually adding a more deep blue/purplish mixture for the outer edges.

In both cases of the shell and body segment painting, I allowed the paints to mingle together in wet-into-wet fashion, with almost no brush mixing on the paper.

I am happy with how my sea turtle is coming together!  My next step is to work more of the shadow areas, particularly on the body between the head and arm.  I also plan to paint the background as a variety of blues and blue-greens, with application of salt to help create more texture, and blossoms and edges too.  I envision the surrounding water to be almost cloud-like.  We'll see how it actually turns out!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Update On My Sketch Kits

My current kit for sketch outings and travel
Sketch kits tend to evolve over time, and mine is no exception.  You get new tools, realize certain preferences, and things change.

A little bit has changed since I last blogged about my kit.  While I do like having a series of 4x6" sketches of my travels, I really do like having everything bound in a sketchbook better.  My current sketchbook of choice is the Global Arts Handbook Drawing Book (Travelogue Series), in the large portrait size (5.5x8.5").  For relatively thin paper, it holds up to even the wettest watercolor washes quite well, and never bleeds through.  There is a tiny bit of wave to the paper, but the elastic closure helps flatten the pages out.  The book has lots of pages and this helps me feel comfortable in it, freeing me to play.  I stay away from books of actual 140lb watercolor paper for this reason.

My palette has been upgraded from the Altoids tin.  I purchased an empty Schmincke tin from Sarnoff's, but I think they can also be purchased online.  I like that some of my most-used colors are full pans, yet I can also fill the pallet with several half-pan colors too.  It's nice that it has the fold-out mixing area.

I've upgraded my brushes too.  My favorite is the Black Velvet Voyage brush by Silver Brush.  I love the blend of synthetic and squirrel hairs, I really love how it handles watercolor.  I have two brushes in my kit, size 8 and size 2.  My gripe with the all-synthetic brush I used to travel with (DaVinci Cosmotop) is that synthetic hairs tend to dump water too quickly onto the paper.  This has been my experience, anyway.  The Silver Black Velvet brush is my go-to brush at home, too.

My sketch outing and travel kit
I recently got a new Lamy Safari fountain pen in the Neon Lime color, with an F (fine) nib.  I figure with such a bright fun color there would be less chance of leaving the pen when I walk away.  I hope so, anyway!  I also bought a converter and keep the pen filled up with my favorite ink, Platinum Carbon Black.  I never have issues with the ink bleeding when I add watercolors after inking.

I include a pencil because I like to start a drawing by blocking out the basic shapes or angles when I am struggling with perspective or composition.  I also have a kneaded erasure in one well of a compact lens case.  (The other well contains white gouache for any highlights I need to add).

A mini-mister spray bottle is great for moistening my paints before using them, and keeping them moist.  I live and sketch in a dry climate and this is a necessity for me.

To always have water handy I have a 2 oz Nalgene wide-mouth cup & lid.  All of this fits into an XS Eagle Creek Pack-it Sac.

My purse kit is very minimal
I also have a mini-kit that is always in my purse.  It is the bare-bones minimum kit for sketching anywhere.  It contains a 3.5x5.5" version of the Global Arts Handbook I normally use.  My paint palette is a tiny Altoids Smalls tin, containing 5 paints:  1) Hansa Yellow Medium, 2) Quinacridone Rose, 3) Ultramarine, 4) Pthalo Green, and 5) Burnt Sienna.  With these 5 paints I can make a huge variety of colors.

I have a little water brush, a Pentel Aquash Compact.  A piece of paper towel to wipe the brush on, and a Sharpie Pen completes the kit.

I hope this helps!

My purse kit

Monday, February 15, 2016

WIP - Green Sea Turtle

Second Layer of watercolor paint
I would like to share with you my process for a big (for me!) painting project I am undertaking.  It is a half sheet (15x22") watercolor painting of a green sea turtle, destined to hang in my studio.

I see green sea turtles as such a serene sea creature, and I love the warm tropical oceans that are their native habitat.  We've had the privilege of encountering them during our snorkeling and diving in the Hawaiian islands, Bahamas, and Caribbean.

My first step is to find photo references for painting.  I have a few photos of green sea turtles, but I've already made paintings from them so I went looking for something new.  Fortunately Steve Jurvetson offered a wonderful still from a movie he took in the Kona seas, and offered it under the Creative Commons license (CC by 2.0).  Thank you Steve!  One thing I really like about this photo is the playful and engaging pose of the sea turtle.

Final drawing using grid system
I needed to make a drawing on a separate sheet of paper that I could trace onto the watercolor paper.  I used the grid system to help me, drawing a 4x5 grid on two 11x14" pieces of sketch paper taped together to make it about 14x22" in size (the size of watercolor paper I will be working on).  I have an app on my Nexus 7 tablet to display photos with a grid overlaid on it.  I drew first in pencil, then inked in the final drawing.  This photo show the final drawing.

I used a light table to transfer the drawing onto a half sheet of Arches 140lb cold press watercolor paper, penciling lightly.

I had to buy another Gator board because I didn't have one large enough to accommodate a half sheet of watercolor paper.  The new one will also accommodate a full sheet should I ever feel so inclined.  I used the staple method to stretch the watercolor paper:  1) wet the paper thoroughly under a facet, 2) lay onto Gator board and use a staple gun (with 1/4" staples) to staple the painting onto the board.  I placed painter's blue tape over the staples, making sure that the paint area is larger the the inner window of my mat.

Once the paper dried it was stretched nice and taunt for painting.  My first layer was a basic under-painting, applied wet-into-wet, of a warm yellow and rose.  My aim it to let warm and rose tones eventually show through the successive layers of paint.

My second layer (photo at top) is meant to begin to map the shadow areas with ultramarine and rose, and to give the shell a green undertone through the layers I will be painting later.  The eyes are generally very dark, but I added Quinacridone Gold to the center of them to hopefully help them give them glow layer.  The gold is darkened by mixes of Violet and Quinacridone Violet.

Now that I have the two layers of under-painting, I plan to begin working on the local color!