Summer is almost here, and if you're lucky enough you have plans to hit up a beach in the next few months. Keep those beach dreams in the back of your mind as we paint the surf washing in tonight.
We will first draw a light pencil line across our canvas to separate out water from our sand. PRO TIP 1: Draw your line on a diagonal, rather than straight across - we humans find this much more dynamic. PRO TIP 2: Hold your pencil at the very end (at the eraser) this will take away some of your hand control and help you make a convincing, just right, wobble in your surf line.
Using your a medium to large brush grab some of that great deep blue hue. Starting at the top of your canvas, working in the direction of that diagonal, scrub that blue paint into the canvas. Come about a third of the way to your surf line and grab some of that turquoise (no need to rinse your brush) - scrub that into the last 1/2 " or so of your deep blue, blending them directly on your canvas. Continue to bring that turquoise down towards your beach, grabbing your white about 2/3's of the way down. Blend the white into the turquoise like we did above, painting it all the way down to that wobble surf line. PRO TIP 1: Don't get hung up on that surf line PRO TIP 2: Working a bit faster is going to ensure that your paint is wet enough to blend together. If it's not blending - don't sweat it, this is the underpainting - we are going to do this all over again in a couple minutes, and now you've had a chance to practice.
Now that we have an underpainting of the water established we are going to lay some foundation for our beach as well. Grabbing a different medium sized brush (dry!) switch up your color palettes and direct your attention to the white, brown, and what looks like a mustard color (white, burnt umber, and raw sienna in artist color lingo). Double load that brush - Grab some white on half your brush, raw sienna on the other half and scrub that into your canvas. We want a lot of different tones (lights and darks) of color here. Even grab a teeny tiny amount of burnt umber and brush that in there as well. Like with the water, no worries - this is an underpainting. Have fun and don't get too hung up on it. PRO TIP: That burnt umber adds great interest, but it also tends to gray out your color. Use it sparingly.
TAKE A STEP BACK ... check out what you got going on so far.
Here is your shot to do it all over again. Rinse repeat - go ahead and start again with the deep blue and blend down to the waters edge using turquoise and then white. The underpainting will provide some depth on our painting, making it look more realistic.
Same thing with your sand, any areas that need a bit more blending or areas of interest?
Grab your sponge and make sure you have pure white paint. Using the sponge side (not scrub side) dip it into your clean white and dab on the side of the plate or paper towel until you have a nice texture left behind. Use your sponge to dab along your shoreline, staying on the water side but encroaching on the beach. PRO TIP 1: Change the direction of your sponge dabbing so it doesn't start to look like a stamp. PRO TIP 2: Dab heavier right at the shore and fade it off as you creep back into the ocean to give that foaming effect. PRO TIP 3: Create a another uneven surf line just behind the first on shore. PRO TIP 4: If your canvas is set up to touch another canvas, make sure that your white paint goes down the edge a bit to create a seamless edge.
Don't put down that sponge quite yet. Switch palettes and grab some more white and raw sienna (mustard tone) and dab. Create a sandy texture by grabbing a variety of those three beach tones from before and changing the direction of your sponge.
WAVES HAVE SHADOWS
Since the wave is washing up on shore it will have a slight shadow underneath it. You can see the difference this makes in the picture below. Using your thinest brush, load it up with burnt umber (darker brown) and trace underneath the waves edge. Make sure to follow your foamy surf line, you want to maintain some of that wobble you worked so hard on. PRO TIP: If you feel confident, blend out that dark brown a bit, as the shadow would fade a bit as it gets farther away from the wave.
TAKE A STEP BACK
Do you need a little splatter paint to break up your sand and add a little more interest? Get some water on your brush (this is really the only time we are going to do this) Triple load your brush and gently tap your loaded brush over top a pencil or different clean brush. Start gentle and block off any area (water) that you don't want splattered. Remember, if you get too much, we just paint over it - no sweat.
Now that we have a proper sand and surf, we need to add some areas of interest and small details. Keeping perspective in mind, there are a variety of things you could paint in; small rocks or pebbles, shells, sea star, sand dollars, shapes or words written in the sand.
MAKE A CHOICE
Choose to either write a word or shape in the sand or paint an object on the beach. Sketch out your object or word on your sand and look below for directions.
PRO TIP: Before sketching out the basic shape of your object(s) think about your composition.
Composition: the artistic arrangement of the parts of a picture.
You want your objects placed in a pleasing way. A rock near the shoreline, maybe another further down the canvas, a small shell not too far away. Don't put all of your detail in one corner.
PAINTING OBJECTS IN THE SAND
1. We are going to use a dark, medium, and light values to make our beach objects look dimensional. Mix your three values below
Burnt Umber will be our dark value
White + a little burnt umber will be our medium value ( should look like a light tan)
White will be out light value
2. Paint your object in your light value (white) with maybe a touch of the tan color.
3. Thinly trace around your object with the medium shade.
4. Take your dark value and add a shadow on the bottom of your object, by tracing around the bottom edge.
All objects are going to be slightly lighter on top with the light hitting there first, and add a little shadow underneath (like we did with the waves).
WRITING A WORD OR SHAPE IN THE SAND
1. We are going to use a dark, medium, and light values to make our letters or shape look dimensional. Mix your three values below
Burnt Umber will be our dark value
White + a little burnt umber will be our medium value ( should look like a light tan)
White will be out light value
2. Paint your letters in your dark value
3. Go over your shape or letters again now with the your medium value, Trace around 2/3s of your letters or shape with the your medium value - we are giving the impression that there are areas that are below the sand and on the top of the sand, these values help the illusion.
4. Take your light value (white) and touch the corners and edges of your medium value, should cover about 1/3 of the medium value.
There is no wrong way to do any of this. Below there are a variety of ways you could handle it, and I bet their will be 50 more ideas tonight. Have fun and remember we can always paint over it and start again. Acrylic paint is wonderfully forgiving in that way!
If you enjoyed tonight check out some of the upcoming art events at the studio
Classes for adults too!
One of the biggest tasks of running an art program is ordering and managing the mountains of supplies. Being a fairly organized person, I developed this Art Room Inventory a few years back to help streamline my ordering and keep me abreast of what I had and how much remained.
I wrote a blog post about it back in 2014, you can find that here.
Now that I've left public education (for now) and embarked on teaching in a small studio environment I still manage and order supplies but the types and amounts have changed greatly. I have classes from toddlers to adults so the type and quality of supplies varies greatly, making the variety of materials that I order much more than when I was teaching in a traditional school environment. I also order a lot less quantity due to me teaching in much smaller groups.
I revised my inventory to be reflective of the studio mentality versus a traditional elementary school classroom, as seen below.
recommendations on basic watercolor supplies for beginners
I finally wrote down some of my thoughts and recommendations on watercolor supplies for students new to the medium. These products are meant for someone that has advanced beyond the Crayola or Prang sets (which serve a wonderful purpose as well) and is looking to start experiment mixing rich color on their own. I linked all the pics to Amazon because honestly, ever since my local art shop left town it's where I get most of my stuff. However I would always price compare with your local place or use those awesome coupons at Michaels or Hobby Lobby if that turns out to get you a better deal. As with most things art, you can really get caught up in the excitement of new materials and those things add up fast (at least that's what happens to me!)
Watercolor Paint is most commonly purchased in cakes or tubes. Generally, artists use cakes (or pan watercolors) when making small paintings and tubes for larger watercolors. However, it just depends on personal preference. In either case, tubes or cakes, you will need water to achieve the right consistency in order to paint. There are many brands of watercolor paint and most can be grouped into children grade, student grade, and professional grade. The difference between the tiers of paint, besides price, is the amount and quality of pigment within the paint. In watercolors pigment is suspended in gum arabic, a non toxic, water soluble solution. It is common to learn with a quality student grade watercolor brand and then purchase professional grade watercolors when you make the leap to sell your work.
Water color paper is very different than the paper that spits out of your printer. It is meant to not only absorb loads of water, but also keep the paint on the surface for a period of time so artists have the chance to manipulate it. Watercolor paper comes in three different surfaces; rough, cold press, and hot press. It is also offered in a variety of thicknesses, referred to as weight. The weight refers to how much the ream of paper weighs as a whole. Most artists work in 140 pound or above for finished paintings, only working on 90 pound for quick exercises or sketches.
There are an overwhelming amount of watercolor brushes to choose from. Generally speaking, I suggest that beginning watercolorists rely on a variety of round brushes for the bulk of their painting needs and a large mop brush for washes. Arguably, the very best watercolor brush you can buy is a Kolinsky Sable brush, made from the hair of a weasel that lives in Siberia ... who would have guessed, but they are expensive. Squirrel, goat, and boar hair all hold their shape well and soak up a lot of water, making them great brushes as well. Synthetic bristles are a great alternative at a much more affordable price. Quality varies greatly so I recommend that you try them out beforehand or read up on other artists opinions before making a purchase.
I like all of the synthetic brush bundles pictured above. They hold up well and keep their shape nicely. The black handled brushes come with an angled end, which is nice to have on hand in watercolors, but not necessary. I find the black handled brushes to be less springy that then the acrylic handled pack first pictured. It all comes down to personal preference though.
The three brushes pictured directly below are a step up in quality versus the synthetic brushes above. They will hold more water and keep their point firmer for a longer period of time. That being said, I didn't make the leap to invest in these until I was selling my work. There is no need to ever purchase these, their are plenty of artists that do beautiful work with synthetic brushes .... however, I find these a real treat and have used them with love.
They make a item to put on a wish list!
Other products that might be fun and helpful as you get going in watercolor are
MISKIT, a rubber cement like solution that is used to mask off areas of your painting
WATERCOLOR PENS, a synthetic brush that has a handle that you're able to fill with colored ink, liquid watercolor, or plain water. Great to use on the go or if you venture down the hand lettering lane of life
WATERCOLOR PENCILS OR CRAYONS, a great tool to help you add textures or just work you out of a painting slump.
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The very Basics
I put together a small, very short, VERY basic handout on watercolors for my adult class that started this week. And, it got me thinking, why didn't I do this for my elementary students?
I have always felt that more elementary art teachers should be taking advantage of watercolor paint and teaching more advanced concepts to kids, rather than just using it as a paint choice to fill in color. The very basics of watercolor technique, flat and gradient washes, wet into wet, wet on dry, and glazing techniques lend lots of room for great lessons on color theory and paint application that, in my experience, lead to great results.
I talk about using watercolors in elementary classroom here, in this lesson based on Catherine Rayner's illustrations
In hindsight, I should have offered this handout to my younger students as well. I think it would have been a concise way to introduce watercolors and served as a proper introduction to a material that has great potential to be more than just colors. I will use this with younger students in the future as well.
Feel free to click on the handouts above and download the documents from my googledocs if you think they would be helpful.
Another great beginning watercolor activity is a quick watercolor workout. I talk about that in greater detail here. I usually have the kids make the grid themselves, a great way to get some ruler skills in, but if you're pressed for time feel free to use the handout below. Just print it on 90 lb. paper and tell students not to paint over the ink lines.
How do you utilize watercolors in your classroom?
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Keeping a variety of art supplies out and available at all times has really encouraged my kids to create all day long.
Our art supplies are on our kitchen island. My kids gravitate there when they need to make something to add to their play or simply to take a break. We had an art supply carousel our old house but switched to the Boon container you see above. I like that the Boon vessel looks stylish and I don't mind having it out all the time. It sorts supplies nicely and holds a variety of materials, and I always have a flair pen when I need one.
Since we aren't directly supervising the art making at all times we keep it to low mess art supplies; thin washable markers, plenty of my favorite pencils, a variety of washi tape, scissors, glue sticks, andthe creamiest colored pencils ever.
I find myself pausing to draw with the kids more, with materials always available.
What sorts of stuff do you always leave out for your kids?
Below are some of my kids and my favorites
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If you've been here before, you might have noticed some major changes. As I transition from teaching art in a formal school setting to a small group setting I decided to utilize my website to keep everything in one place. I will continue to blog about my art education practices and hopefully more often.
It's been a year of transitions as I stay home full time with my family and I've very much looking forward to teaching more in the upcoming year. Cheers to more art time!