This will now be a bi-weekly blog instead of weekly. The next posting will Sunday, September 16, 2008.
Let’s play with spray painting…at least, my version of spray painting. Using diluted watercolor paints and pump spray bottles, we’re going to tap into our creative side!
- watercolor paper [I used a piece of 5×7 140lb cold press watercolor paper]
- pump spray bottles, one for each color [you can buy them in craft stores, or recycle hair spray bottles or other products that use spray bottles…be sure to clean thoroughly before using ]
- watercolor paint – different colors [I used an artist-quality brand called da vinci, but any water-based paint that comes in a tube or is liquid will do]
- painter’s tape [blue or green]
- something to cover the area where you’ll be working…paint will spray out and beyond the paper…it will get messy.
Make the Spray Paint:
For each color you have, make a solution of diluted paint. Take off the pump top and squirt in about 1/2 teaspoon of paint into the bottle.
Add about 1/2 to 1 inch of water to the bottle, depending on how thick or thin you want the paint. With practice and playing you’ll figure out which you prefer. It does need to be thin enough to spray effectively…if it’s too thick, it will clog in the pump…yuck!
Put the top back on and then shake the bottle to blend the solution.
Now for the Fun Part!
The steps I’m suggesting here are just to get you started and to show you how I created the final piece.
I highly encourage you to play around with this process…use more or less tape, use more or less paint, use more or less colors, see what happens when the paper is wet vs. dry….etc. etc. etc.
STEP 1: Rip varying sizes of tape and randomly place them on the paper…or you can place them any way you like…you can make shapes and patterns with the tape. For this example, I put them on randomly.
STEP 2: Pick up one of your spray paint bottles and start spraying. Here I used yellow to start. Because water-based paint is mostly transparent, it’s usually best to start painting with the lighter colors first and then add darker colors.
STEP 3: Once the yellow paint is dry, add another color. Here I added red. This particular red (cadmium red – medium) is less translucent than the yellow. It creates more droplets.
STEP 4: After the paint dries, take some of the tape off. Some of the tape pieces I removed were underneath other pieces. While in the previous photos, the yellow was difficult to see, with the tape removed you can definitely see the difference between the yellow and white areas.
STEP 5: Add more paint. In this case I added blue.
STEP 6: After the blue dries, add more paint. Here I add a translucent violet. When the paper is dry, the paint will form droplets. If the paper is wet, the paint will blend without any droplets showing.
STEP 7: After the paint dries, take off some more of the tape. Now you can really see the contrast between where the paint is and where the tape was.
STEP 8: Add more paint. Here I added a rose color, which on the white exposed areas turns it into a pink color.
STEP 9: Once dry, take off remaining tape.
STEP 10: Add more paint. In this case, I added more yellow. Remember how earlier I said to use lighter colors first? Because some light areas still exist on the paper, I can add lighter colors and have it be noticeable. Add the yellow overall gives the painting a warmer look and feel, but in the areas where it’s yellow only, the yellow stands out.
STEP 11: Here I added more paint…a light green which is barely noticeable in this photo.
STEP 12: Add final paint. To make the yellow sections less flat looking, I added about two quick squirts of the rose paint. It left drops in throughout as well as in the yellow areas…making it more interesting…at least in my humble opinion.
So that’s my version of spray painting. This activity has so many possibilities. Besides tape or instead of tape, you can use any number of objects on the paper. I have a pile of sea shells that would work nicely with this process.
Ok…ball’s in your court. Have fun playing with spray painting!
Maureen, The Mandala Lady
With this project, we’re going to add simple coloring to create depth to flat objects by adding shadows. We take for granted the role shadows play. In another activity we’ll look into this topic further and showing how light plays a role in creating shadows. For today we’re just going to play with creating shadows. Shadows help our perspective, depth perception, and order. Without them everything would appear flat.
Same with our individual psyches…without our shadow sides, we would be dull and flat. Our society tends to want to hide our shadows, our dark sides…that’s where we find out who we really are. And if we want to be healthy happy people, at some point in time we have to face our shadows and heal the wounds that lurk beneath the surface.
Whoa! I went way off topic…sorry. Anyway back to the activity at hand.
- “Playing with Shadows” Playsheet Download “Playing with Shadows”
- Purple Color Pencil [I used Prismacolor Black Grape…any purple pencil should work]
- Color Pencils, 2 different colors [I used Primsacolor Canary Yellow and Goldenrod]
What I’m providing for you here is lacking in exactness and precision. The purpose of this activity is to introduce you to the idea of shadows. If you want to explore this concept further and be more precise with it, plenty of books exist out there on the topic.
Here We Go…
The first row on the playsheet has 5 squares. Notice how flat and 2-dimensional they look without anything being done to them.
Step 1: Using your pencil, color in to the right of the first box as shown in this image.
Step 2: Now color in below the box as I have done in this image. Notice how this makes that first square look like it’s above the paper. The square itself is still flat however now it has a more 3D look to it. Note that the shadow mimics the outer shape of the object that’s creating the shadow.
With the first square we colored the shadow near to the edges and medium dark, making it look like the square is above but near to the paper. If you want to create the illusion that the square is further away, the shadow ‘box’ needs to be smaller and further away for the opposite edges. The shadow will also be of a lighter shade.
In this image the 3D effect of the shadow for the second square is a little more challenging to see; mainly because of the closeness of the shadow on the first square and that the second square is level with the first square. If you cover the first square with your hand, the depth of the second shadow will be easier to see.
See the activity on “Playing with Contrasts” to play with lights, darks and everything in between.
ADDED ACTIVITY: Go about your home, office, room, etc. and look for shadows. Notice what makes some shadows darker and some lighter. In general the shadow will be darker and sharper when the light is very bright and the object is near where the shadow occurs.
For the third square, I made the shadow even smaller and lighter than the first two and I put it away from the square.
Now, let’s play with circles…
As I stated earlier, the shadows reflects the outer shape of the object that’s creating the shadow. So when working with circles, the shadow will have a round edge. With this first circle, notice how the shadow looks like a crescent moon…if you keep the in mind, it will be easier to color it in. Notice how I made it really dark. When you have a dark shadow, it usually means that light on the object must be really bright.
I used the purple color pencil to color in this shadow.
With the second circle, I put the shadow in a different location, with a lighter coloring of the purple. Here, too, you may need to cover the first circle to see the depth with the second circle.
As I did with the third square, I made the shadow for the third circle be very light and away from the circle.
On the third row of the playsheet are pairs of overlapping circles. With the first pair, the first circle creates a shadow on the second circle and also on what’s beneath the second circle. I made the shadow on the second circle darker than the shadow reflections beneath the second circle.
Two things to notice:
- Remember that shadows mimic the outer edges of the object(s) that create the shadow. So here the shadow beneath the second circle is a combination of the two circles. The shadow is clueless that two objects are creating the shadow.
- Two shadows are created by the first (top) circle…one on the circle below it and then below the second circle. The two shadows will be shaped differently.
ADDED ACTIVITY: Test this out for yourself. Take two plates and overlap them over a table where there is a light source above the plates. What happens to the shadows as you move the plates around.
Now let’s play with color. Color in the upper circle with the yellow (or the light of the two colors you chose to use). Color the goldenrod on the lower circle (or the other color you have). At this point these two circles look like they are glued together right on top of the paper.
Now watch what happens when we add some shadows to it. Use your purple pencil and color in some crescent-shaped shadows. In this case we’ll assume there’s one light source coming from one direction, so the shadows need to fall in line with each other (as best you can, of course).
What happens when we color in the same shadow shape on to the circles themselves? In this case, make the circle shading a little be lighter than the shadow. Now the flat circles look more like small balls. When an object is three dimensional, that it too will have shadows on it. So along with creating a shadow, it will have a shadow on itself. We’ll play more with this idea in another posting.
Last row…three overlapping circles. In this image, by adding shadows, it looks like three flat disks are floating above the paper.
Putting all of what I showed you together into one example and using a little imagination I created something that looks like a joystick or a door knob, or whatever your imagination tells you.
For me I imaged that the first circle was a knob (yellow color), th second circle (goldenrod color) was more of a tube (like a toilet paper cardboard tube) and the third circle was a curved cover (white, the bottom of the joystick).
I then imaged what the combined shadow would be of the knob and tube and colored in the shadow on the third circle. The yellow knob needed a crescent-shaped shadow to make it look 3D. With the second circle (tube), the shadow on it would cover about half the circle rather than being crescent-shaped. The third circle has a bit of a curved shape, so I gave a narrow crescent-shaped shadow on it and a darker version of that shape below it.
Play around with this and see what you can create out of these three circles.
Till next time…Happy Coloring!
Maureen, The Mandala Lady
This activity is all about contrasts, also known as values; lights and darks and everything in between. You’ll actually learn more about colors by coloring or painting in grayscale. It’s the contrasts, the lightest lights to the darkest darks that provide the most interest and drama.
If you think of movies, more drama and action is created where contrasts exist. How boring a movie would it be if everyone just went about their business without any ups or downs. It’s our contrasts that make us and art interesting and alive.
- 2B Pencil
- 6B Pencil (or 4B, 8B, 9B…whatever you have…the higher the number the greater the contrast)
- Practice Paper
- Design to Color
Activity #1 – Make a Grayscale Chart
For each pencil make a row of scribbles from light to dark. I find it easier to do the lightest and darkest first, then fill in from there. Notice how much or little pressure it takes to color dark and light. Here’s a sample one I did.
Activity #2 – Color an Image
I created this simple design for us to color in with your #2 and #6 pencils. You can follow along the way I did or you can do it your own way. Use different variations of lights and darks based on the chart you created in activity #1. Be bold with your darkest dark and as light as possible with your lightest lights.
Below are images of my versions of this design:
peace, Maureen, The Mandala Lady
Today we’re going to play with two watercolor pencils and accomplish three tasks with one activity:
- Play with watercolor pencils
- Create a painting with just two colors
- Using shading to create depth and dimension
Please keep in mind that this activity is about playing and experimenting. Precision, exactness of shape, perspective and lighting?…these concepts are for future activities.
Disclaimer: This is my approach and lacking any formal training. I learned by playing with the pencils versus taking any classes. I would recommend that if you want to pursue this medium further, search out classes, books and/or other web sites on this topic. Of course you may find that you learn best by just playing and experimenting with them.
- a piece of 140# cold press watercolor paper (cold press has more texture to the paper)
- 2 watercolor brushes: I used a small round brush, and a 1/2″ flat brush (you can use these or whatever watercolor brushes you have available to you).
- 2 watercolor pencils: red and blue (I used Stabilo Aquatico brand…but almost any brand of watercolor pencil will do).
- a good pencil sharpener…metal sharpeners work much better than cheap plastic ones)
- 1 light gray watercolor pencil to draw out the design. You can use a regular pencil; the lines you draw will be visible as you paint. With the watercolor pencil, the gray will disappear into the painting. As an added activity do this painting twice, once with a gray watercolor pencil and once with a regular pencil. See which one you like better.
- a small jar of water
HERE WE GO:
- Use your gray w/c pencil (or regular pencil) to draw out this loosely drawn balloon shape. Again, forget about precision…keeping it loosely drawn, makes it more interesting.
- Using the side tip of the red w/c pencil, roughly color in the balloon shape. Whatever angle you color, be consistent throughout. I colored on a right angle. You’re welcome to color straight up & down, on a left angle, or horizontally.
- The balloon filled in with red
- Color with the blue pencil along the right side of the balloon, following the shape of the balloon. What color do you get when you mix blue and red? Purple!
- The balloon with the blue added. Using the blue in this way makes the balloon look more 3-dimensional instead of flat.
- Take the round brush, dip it in water, and brush over the red section, brushing at the same angle as the original coloring and along the outside edge of the drawing.
- Mid-way with brushing through red section. As needed, wet your brush to help with the spreading of color.
- The red section after brushing and a little into the blue section
- Now brush through the blue section and along the shape of the balloon’s right side
- Here’s another way to use your w/c pencils…dip the red pencil directly into the water
- Now color the red as you did when the pencil was dry, continuing on the same angle as you originally colored. It will take several dippings back and forth between the water and the paper. You’ll see that the color will go on darker, with some lines. This will give the painting some texture.
- Wet color over the red section and then use the blue pencil to wet color over the blue section
- Use the wet red pencil to overlap the blue and red sections
- After you overlap…
- Add more blue, as needed, to the blue section
- Add more red, leave a small curved rectangular area with less red. This will act as a reflection and give the balloon more of a 3-dimensional shape.
- Now here’s the surprise…turn the painting upside down. My original intent for this painting was to create a balloon. On a whim, when I got to this point, I decided to turn the painting upside down. I found this to be more interesting…now it looks more like a vase.
- The vase feels link it needs a background. The general rule of thumb when painting is to paint the background first and then the subject. Since my approach to this painting was very loosely based, we’re doing it a little backwards…and that’s ok. Here I took the blue pencil, and very loosely colored in some blue in the bottom third of the paper.
- Using the flat w/c brush, wet the brush and spread the color out along the paper. By putting only a little blue on the paper from step 18, the blue becomes a light blue when water is added to it.
- To give the painting more depth, create a shadow area to the side of the vase. Use a wet blue pencil to color in the shadow. Make it curved so that it resembles the shape of the vase. Then add some wet red pencil to the shadow. You can smooth it out if necessary with a brush. You can play around with the shadow placement. Just know that the light is coming from the right, so the shadow has to be somewhere on the right. I’ll be discussing shadows in another activity.
- To finish the background, lightly color in some red (dry pencil) in the upper 2/3rds of the paper.
- Use the flat w/c brush, wet the brush and spread the color out along the paper. And we’re done!
The way I placed the shadow on the blue surface, makes the vase look like it’s floating. Play around with the shadow placement and notice what happens to the vase.
And look at how many colors appear in this painting…it still blows me away with what you can create with using only two colors.!
As an added activity, do this painting a few more times using other pairings of colors. The only requirement would be that one color be lighter and one darker (ie: yellow & green, pink & brown, orange & purple, etc.)
Whatever you do, just have fun with it & experiment!
Maureen, The Mandala Lady
Yesterday, a friend of mine and I spent the day in Portland, OR. We rode the train from Albany up & back. If you ever have the opportunity to ride a train somewhere, do it…it’s a great way to go.
On our way back and while in the middle of a conversation with another traveler, this week’s activity idea just popped into my head. This morning I tested it out and had a blast doing it. [More photos at the end of the instructions]
I call it ‘splat’ painting. The general idea is to take a damp paper towel, dip it in some watered-down paint and throw it onto some paper posted on a wall.
Have fun splatting! The Mandala Lady
What You’ll Need:
- poster paper, butcher paper, kraft paper, etc.
- any color poster paints or water-based paint that is non-toxic & cleans up easily…for my example I used the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue (Pro-Art Tempura Paints)
- bowls for the paint (one’s that are ok to mess up)
- sturdy paper towels
- latex or rubber gloves (only if you care about keeping your hands clean during the process…I wimped out and used them)
- water to water down the paint and to damped the paper towels
- find a place where you are able to make a big mess or a place where you can spread plastic tarps, old sheets, and/or old shower curtains. I used our shed in the backyard…adding any paint to it at all is an enhancement! Know that paint will splatter and that the paper towels will fall off the paper and land on the ground/floor. For this reason I highly recommend using water based paints.
- where comfortable old clothes that can take the paint splatters. This will be a messy process…but so much fun!
- put your paper up on the wall. I used push pins…our shed can take it. Use whatever you have available that will do the least amount of damage to walls. Painters/masking tape works well.
- pour a color into a bowl…I started with yellow
- add some water to thin it out…you get more splatters this way
- damped a sheet of paper towel. I used a spray bottle to wet it
- clump up the paper towel, dip it into the paint and throw it at the paper…yes I said ‘throw it’
- retrieve the paper towel and throw it again
- add more paint to the paper towel as needed
- another technique is to slap the paper with the paper towel
- stand close to the paper
- hold an end of the paper towel
- slap it on to the paper
- slapping leaves a bigger, thinner area of paint, while throwing puts on globs of paint
- When you feel you have enough of that color, start at step one with the next color.
For my version I start with yellow, then red, then blue. Then I went back with more red, then more yellow.
This is one of those things that is beyond rules. Just play with the paint. Come up with your own way of applying the paint.
- Instead of paper towels, use sponges, or pieces of material or fabric.
- Place the paper on the floor instead of the wall.
HERE’S WHAT I DID…
When you ‘splat’ hard enough, the paper towel will stick to the paper. Splatting a wad of paper towel puts blobs of paint on it along with outside splatter. Note the splatters on the shed wall. oops!
Here’s what it looks like before I do my first splat of red. I really load up the paper towel…bigger blobs & splatter that way 🙂
Here you see the paper towel stuck to the paper. I got some great blobs & splatters on both splats.
In this shot you can see where I splatted and where I slapped (2nd technique described in step #7). Slapping spreads the paint out and in a more patterned way. If the paper towel has texture, which mine does, it shows up in the slapping. Notice the red ‘slap’ sections near the upper left and upper right.
Now it’s blue’s turn for splatting & slapping. The towel stayed on after one of the slaps.
Once I finished with the blue, then I went back over the whole piece with more slapping of yellow and red. Tah-Dah! It was great fun. You’ll also see why I say this activity is very messy. This is the best the shed wall has ever looked…of course my husband has yet to see this 🙂
Now for some close-up shots. Most of this section shows slaps of all three colors. The red section shows more of the texture of the paper towel which had ridges on it.
In this close up you see where smears occurred when I removed the paper towel from the paper, either quickly as part of a slap, or slowly when doing a full-on splat.
In this close up you see slaps and splatter droplets.
More splats, slaps and spatters.
Over the last umpteen years, the term “values” has been tossed about in the cultural, political, and religious venues, mostly to profess who has more values than anyone else. Today, I’m going to talk with you about fundamental values in the art/creativity world.
In art, the term ‘values’ refers to the varying shades of color from the lightest lights to the darkest darks. Without values, our creations would be bland and flat. It’s values that give art their depth and dimension.
I made a simple 5-block color chart showing the step-by-step conversion from white to black. This can be done for any color, but black and white are the most effective way to make the point. The biggest fear I notice when people color/paint is being bold with their darker shades. Mainly it’s because they are usually up close to their work when they are coloring/painting that it looks to drastic and too bold. When I ask them to step back and then look at it, then they see how it actually enhances their art rather than harms it. I’m constantly telling people to “be bold!” The more contrasting values you use in your painting, the more interesting it will be.
It’s the lights and darks that help differentiate between different objects in your painting. They create depth and dimension. In general, lighter shades will appear closer, while darker colors tend to recede. With regard to atmospheric perspective (a topic for another day), the opposite is true.
- Create your own 5-block gray scale like the one in the image above. I used prismacolor pencils to create that chart. Almost any good quality pencil that claims you can blend colors will work also.The best way to approach it is to color white in on one end and then black in the opposite end. Then in the middle block color in equal amounts of white and black to create a color that looks half way between white and black. Then proceed to color in the lighter gray color by coloring in more white than black. The color the darker gray by coloring in more black than white.If you want something a little more challenging along while learning how to make subtle differences in your values, try creating a gray scale with 10 blocks.
- Create a doodle drawing and color it using various shades of gray, black, and white. Take a piece of paper, get something round that you can trace (plate, for example) or use a compass and draw out a circle. Then with a pencil, doodle one long line up and down and all round the circle. Now with all the different shapes that have been created, color in each one with difference shades of gray, black and white. Here’s one I did recently.
Peace, Maureen Maiah Frank
This week’s assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to explore the color green.
Green is a secondary color, made from the combination of two primary colors: yellow and blue.
What do you associate with the color green…
- an amateur, someone new to something
- the environment
- feeling nauseous
- one of the chakra colors (heart)
- anything else? What do you associate with green?
You can vary the shades of green…
- add more yellow
- add more blue
- use different shades/temperatures of yellow [ such as lemon yellow (cool) or canary yellow (warm) ]
- use different shades of blue [ such as slate blue (warm) or indigo blue (cool)]
As you play with these ideas, I would love to read your comments about your experiences with doing these exercises. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them here.
- Pull out your yellow and blue crayons/colored pencils/pastels/paints/etc and play with creating green. Note which combinations give you a bright green versus a darker olive green. Does it make a difference to color blue on top of yellow versus yellow on top of blue? As a bonus, create a color chart similar to what I have made here (I did this with Prismacolor Color Pencils).
- Now pull out some of your green pencils/crayons/paint/etc. Look at the difference between using a green color versus the green you make from yellow and blue. What do you notice about the two? Step back from the two. Can you tell the difference between the two? What else do you notice about the green versus the created green?
- Explore the vegetation in the outdoor world in your neighborhood/town/city.
- Where do see green?
- Is everything the same shade of green?
- Look at one tree, bush, and/or plant. How many shades of green do you really see on it? Is it within the vegetation itself or is it because part of it is in the shade?
- Look at this photo below. At first glance you can see that trees are on both sides of the street. When you look more closely you see that the trees are different shades of green. If you were to do a realistic coloring of this photo, you’d have to use several different colors of green. Look at the tree closest to you on the right. Notice the leaves, they go from a very dark green at the bottom to a brighter shade of green on the left side. Why is that? For the most part, each leaf is basically the same color. The difference is that some of the leaves block light to the leaves below and the ones closer to the trunk. The more that light is taken away, the darker the color of the leaves become. If you look at the tree through squinted eyes, you may notice patterns and shapes of darker greens and lighter greens. See if you can re-create theses shapes by playing with lighter and darker shades of green.
- Where else do you see green in your world? clothing, appliances, vehicles, etc. Do you notice varying shades of green within each item? Notice where the light source (sun, light bulb, daylight, etc.) is coming from and how it changes the shade of green aimed at the light and on the other side, away from the light. Your mind knows that the item is all the same shade of green, however when you really look at the item, you’ll see that more than one shade of green exists there because of how the light reflects off and around it.
- Take a piece of green material (tablecloth, shirt, blanket, towel, etc.). Rumple it up so you have hills and valleys of material. Shine a light on it from an angle. What happens to that original shade of green? Where is the green brighter, darker? Play with coloring/painting it.