Paintings from my watercolor class

Here’s another entry in the “What Ed’s been doing the last six months” file. This one is about my recently completed watercolor class.

My creative goal this year (since my birthday in November) is to learn about and develop some comfortability with watercolor. I bought a bunch of supplies on my birthday and did a few tutorials on youtube, but by the end of the year I realize I was not really getting anywhere. So I did a search for classes available in the area and found a rather affordable “mini-course” (6 weeks, once a week) at Northwestern taught by Ingrid Albrecht.

I got into watercolors primarily because I liked the way they looked and I thought I could incorporate them into comics at some point in the future, however this class focused a bit more on what might be called “fine art” watercolor. That’s good though, because I’ve never had any experience trying to paint in any style, let alone fine art. Note that these are my assessments and not necessarily what the instructor said. Below are some examples of what I did as well as my thought process (if there was one) for each. You can click on any thumbnail you see to get a larger version.

Class 1: The first class was just learning different techniques, like washes, and brush strokes. I’ll spare you having to look at the strokes I made.

Homework 1: Do a single color (one paint tube, varying amounts of water) painting. I chose burnt sienna and did this picture of a vampire on a bridge near a city. It’s an homage to my favorite comic artst – Rafael Albuquerque – who has done a lot of vampires in his time. I like the composition, but now that the class is over I see a lot of places I could have improved it.

vampire
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Class 2: Paint with two colors. I did this scene of a bike on a city street using only yellow and blue (they make green when mixed). It’s okay, the bike looks terrible, but I really like the path between the buildings and the foliage around them.

bicycle
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Class 3: Paint with three colors. In this class we learned a bit about color mixing and complementary colors. I mixed yellow and red to get orange and used blue as a complement (blue and orange are compliments, as are red and green, and yellow and violet). This is my #1 or #2 favorite painting from the class. I did it based on a reference photo I found online. White as a color is hard to come by in watercolor because basically the white of the paper is the best white you’ll get, so you have to really protect it. You can do things to get around that though, like using an white ink pen, or (as I did) scraping the paint off with an x-acto knife when the paint is dry.

orange
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Class 4: Paint with four colors do something abstract. Honesty I can’t really remember if this was the fourth class. I think it might have been like the second. We had to draw a bunch of lines on the paper and then fill them in using different colors and techniques. Mine wasn’t meant to look like anything, but it ended up looking a lot like a field, mountains, and the northern lights. Ah well.

abstract
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Class 5: Paint with as many colors as you want. That was the description, though to be honest, I don’t think I used more than four for this one. I wanted it to be ominous and I think I succeeded. This scan doesn’t do it justice, but I spent a lot of time trying different scan settings and still couldn’t get it right. A friend later told me that this painting reminded him of Andrew Wyeth. I assumed he was making fun of me in some way (because I didn’t know who that was) but when I looked him up I realized it was actually a very nice compliment. If you haven’t seen Wyeth’s work, I recommend you look it up, it’s great stuff.

wyeth
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Class 6: The final class! This one was an interesting experience. We had to do six paintings in half an hour. Each was to be done during the full duration of a song and to be inspired by said song. I put them all down here in the order they were completed, I named each and make a brief comment about each one.

Happy Field - the music started happy and got scary, hence the late addition of reds
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Happy Field – the music started happy and got scary, hence the late addition of reds
SadDragon
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Sad Dragon – This music sounded Asian (definitely a pentatonic scale) and was rather melancholy.
Dead Mouse - Super scary and loud music. I learned that complimentary colors make grays in watercolor (if diluted). The resulting image looks like a mouse to me.
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Dead Mouse – Super scary and loud music. I learned that complimentary colors make grays in watercolor (if diluted). The resulting image looks like a mouse to me.
Sun Blossom - The music started slow and felt like spring. This is some combo of a seed and plant thing.
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Sun Blossom – The music started slow and felt like spring. This is some combo of a seed and plant thing.
Dancing - this sounded like music you might here in a street market somewhere and made me think of people dancing.
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Dancing – this sounded like music you might here in a street market somewhere and made me think of people dancing.
Lazy River - Sort of bluesy song, very slow. I did this river with some rocks or a city on each side. I was trying to use up paint because time was running out.
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Lazy River – Sort of bluesy song, very slow. I did this river with some rocks or a city on each side. I was trying to use up paint because time was running out.

I like the medium a lot and I think I’m going to continue to experiment. I’ll at least keep it up until my next birthday, as a yearly creative goal is sort of the new thing I’m trying.

Next post will be about my crazy adventures in screen printing.

Ed