Friday, April 30, 2010

Watercolor (part 2)

Some of the greatest things we learned in the class were from the Old Masters: techniques, knowledge, compositions, and small bits of their history.

We did composition studies from their work by doing small thumbnail-size versions in watercolor. The point was to see the overall design of their pieces while trying to master the handling of watercolor. We had to make decisions fast and get past the fear of doing it poorly. We usually did 3 to 4 studies a day from a specific artist and had 10 minutes for each one. These are about half the size of a playing card.

Half of the 6 assignments we had to do was to copy a master of our choosing, just like in Drawing From the Masters class. I didn't know any watercolor painters at all, but of course Marshall recommended a few. I ended up discovering Winslow Homer's work and chose him as a "watercolor touchstone."

In my first attempt (bottom of page), I didn't have any clue on how to get the values and colors close to the original. So I took it into class the next day and Marshall did a demo for me (top of page) and showed that I needed an underpainting first to harmonize it. He used a raw sienna ( a sort of yellow/brown color) for the underpainting... and it made a big difference.

So I redid it with an underpainting, but I still didn't get the values that well. I did have fun with the technique though, using sandpaper to scratch and create texture (as Homer did).

Another copy... still had trouble with the values. Homer was a master of values!

For the second semester of watercolor (yeah, I know, "sacrificed" my saturday again)... I went ahead and continued to study Winslow Homer's work because there was still way more to learn from him. 3 mediocre studies was not going to cut it!

Instead of doing cropped versions of his pieces, I decided to copy the whole thing so that I can see the overall composition better. I did some comp studies first and figured out my color palette in order to prepare myself to do the whole piece.

This is one of the results...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Since Marshall was the teacher to learn from, I signed up for his watercolor class as well...even though it was held on a SATURDAY!!! And for 6 hours! It seemed crazy to my friends that I would take a Saturday class, but it was waaaaay worth it.

Just like the other class, we spent time doing gestures for an hour. It was an exercise to practice our brush strokes and getting comfortable with the medium. Especially since watercolor is considered by many the "hardest medium" to use... because it's WATER!

Here are some of the gestures. Some ok, some "horrible" but one must be willing to do it poorly and do it a lot. In my early attempts, I wasn't doing it well because I was pretty much "drawing" instead of "painting."

The first major assignment was to do the flat wash technique on a stained glass type of design. I didn't do too bad with a bit of practice on 100% cotton paper! The good stuff.

I had trouble with the next project, which was to paint clouds with the wet-into-wet technique. First semester, I didn't really get it, and the second semester (after many attempts) I sort of got it... but still more practice needed. It's a fun technique and no way I'm giving up on that challenge.

The third project was to copy a photo and copy it exactly using the dry brush technique. It was ok, and I got most of the values, but trying to render fur at that stage was probably not the best idea...

This was a still life I did during the second semester of watercolor. I just wanted to try a technique I got from a book. Yes, yes, that's Naruto's coin pouch! A good friend gave it to me. It's nice and fat with coins haha. I still need to fix those coins though...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Drawing From The Masters (part 2)

We also had some projects where we got to choose which masters to study. Basically just choose the ones you really, really, really like so you can learn and be influenced by them. It's like being able to choose your own parents! Or your favorite bands/type of music, friends, etc. "TOUCHSTONES!!!"

The first master I chose was Andrew Loomis. He was an Illustrator and educator in the early 1930's to 60's. I found out about him through his book, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, and I was just amazed of his beautiful work. My summer figure drawing teacher had an actual copy! His books are some of the best out there, but they are so rare. Good thing his stuff is flying around on the internet.

I did the assignment twice...yeah, crazy i know, but I just wanted to get good and to experiment. First was practice and on a cheaper version of Strathmore bristol paper (left). The second (right) was done on the 500 Series Strathmore hot press bristol paper (3 ply)... (catches breath). It made a big difference. I did a bit of penciling on both and used Red Higgins ink... The ink color is richer on the higher quality/ more expensive paper. Sexy.

Another Loomis, this time without pencil work first, but it didn't turn out as well. So I tried to sketch from a magazine photo (right) to see how much I know... and I didn't know much, but that's why I did it to get help from the teach! So much to learn about draftsmanship.

Another amazing artist with great line quality...Winsor McCay. This is from his comic strip: Little Nemo in SlumberLand. But my handling of pen and ink wasn't that good.

The last one I did for that semester was an illustration of this gnarly looking witch by W. Heath Robinison. Blue Higgins Ink...and orange micron for the flame ;p

Here are a couple I did from the semester after. First one from John R. Neil, which I didn't finish with the ink work because... his line work was so amazing and it would be useless trying to copy it line by line like a copy machine. I need way more practice to be able to do it.

And another Loomis. This was actually the first piece of his work I saw from him when I opened his book. It was love at first sight. I really like the composition and the graphic quality it had. The technique was fun too. I didn't use the exact same tools and paper as he listed in his book, but I used a black colored pencil and ink too. I did a little comp study (top right corner) before I started with the values. I tried to limit it to 4 since I was using 2 mediums. It was fun.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Drawing From The Masters

First, I would like to say that this is THE BEST Art Class I have ever taken at Fullerton College!!! WHY? -Because of the work we got to do, things we got to learn, and meeting an awesome teacher named Marshall Vandruff!

This guy can really teach! He's really really really into art and his teachings... why would anybody not want a teacher like that!? I can't say enough about this guy, just take his classes! He has taught me more than anybody out there. Plus he is a pretty cool dude and has a lot of cool stories to tell (which most have lessons that are valuable to any artist).

Besides meeting Marshall, I also met some other great art students as well: the incredibly hard working & talented Christie Tseng, Josh Naehu, Carla Gomez, and Donald Kirby. Meeting these people have been great since we share similar goals and are highly determined to meet them. Some of us even had a few other classes together.

And...besides making new friends, I also discovered many great Art Masters of the past and present. We learned about them through Marshall's lectures, side stories, excercises, studies and even DVDs. We did so much in those relatively short 4 hours!

Here are some of the things we did: We usually started the class doing gestures for an hour, with each slide lasting anywhere from less than a minute or longer.

These are from John Tenniel's Alice In Wonderland illustrations (above).
The next two are A.B Frost's work.

The following are some gestures we did of Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings.

The rest are from Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes comic, George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and E.C. Segar's Popeye.

After doing gestures, we would spend another 20 to 30 minutes of a longer study from one of the images we just drew from. Penciled things in first then inking with pen and ink (the kind with replacable nibs and ink to dip it in...yeah, cool stuff yo!).

There are a few artists that I didn't get to mention, but one that everyone should know about is Heinrich Kley. His work is just crazyzamazing! We got to do studies from him too. ;p