“Horses,” ink on paper.
I have been all over the place lately in terms of the artwork I’m doing. Flowers, faces, animals, collage, sewing… aack!
In the past I’ve preferred to work in a series — such as the Girls or the Animals for example — and build a large body of work around the same thing… I’ve found that working that way helps me feel grounded and not so, well, all over the place.
But for the past few months, I just haven’t been able to help but spin off in all kinds of different directions.
I’m having fun, but I do feel a bit un-grounded and scattered, too.
(I will just try to live with the uncomfortable feeling, though, for a little longer. It must be what I need right now!)
When I posted the above flowers a few weeks ago, many of you expressed an interest as to how I made them! So following is a quick tutorial (though, after several weeks of experimenting, I still haven’t been able to replicate the above flowers exactly… oh well! Just remember to have fun and not worry about the end product very much; because it is such a fast and loose process, you won’t be able to control it that much anyhow!)
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
• #140 hot-pressed (smooth) watercolor paper (or similar), cut or torn to any size
• watercolors (pan or tube, either is fine)
• white gesso (I use Golden brand, because it is a bit thicker than some of the other brands)
• one or two flat brushes (between 1/4″ – 3/4″)
• pencil (I use a cheap mechanical pencil)
• eraser (I prefer kneaded rubber erasers)
Step 1. Randomly “splotch” 3-6 different colors of watercolors onto your paper. This can be done in one step, and it’s okay if the colors overlap and run a bit. (I usually use a half-inch flat watercolor brush.) Leave some whites spaces. Let dry completely.
Step 2. Once your watercolors are dry, get out your white gesso. Using a DRY brush (or one that you’ve squeezed most of the water out of), start painting gesso circles around areas of the watercolor, as shown above. Once you paint a circle, immediately turn the brush around and “draw into” the gesso with the brush handle. Draw lines for petals, circle-y scribbles, etc.
Here it is at the next stopping point. Notice I covered the in-between areas with white gesso, too. (Also, the white “stars” above are made by putting a dollup of gesso in the middle of a color patch, and then turning the brush around and drawing into it.) Let gesso layer dry completely.
Step 3. Next, add pencil to pull out your flower shapes even more. Keep your hand as loose as possible.
Step 4. I went back in with gesso and added a few more star shapes, as it seemed a little bare after step 3.
Step 5. Fill in the areas between the flowers with a light layer of pencil. Vary your directions a bit, and then smear with your finger to soften.
Step 6. This is hard to see here, but this step involves lightly going back in with an eraser here and there. (This is an optional step; I just felt I was a little too heavy-handed with my pencil in Step 5, so I wanted to soften it a bit.)
Step 7. Finally, I gave the entire piece a VERY LIGHT layer of sepia brown watercolor to unify the piece. (Again, an optional step for you!)
These last few weeks I have been FLOWER CRAZY! As I got into trying to get this tutorial ready for you, things kind of exploded and I found I could approach the flowers in many different ways on many different surfaces, using all the layered painting techniques I’ve been sort of making up the last 15 years. (Gesso plus watercolor? Yes! And on wood? And collage, too? Yes and yes!)
Some of you have requested a longer, more in-depth online painting class, so I’m working to have FLOWER CRAZY! ready to start April 9, 2012 (we’ll finish up just in time for the “real” May flowers)!
Watch for details and registration info March 1st (or sign up for my newsletter to get a note in your in-box).
Thanks for visiting!
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Photo Silly Advanced
March 12 – 25, 2012
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Okay, for all you PS veterans, here we go a bit deeper. This class will follow the similar PS format with a few changes. We will do 5 assignments per week over two weeks. The assignments will still be mostly silly but will be based more on personal expression and will give you the opportunity to pursue your own interests.
• A new feature will be the opportunity to opt-in to a weekly critIque. This will be a separate posting where I will give more concrete suggestions for improving your images.
• We will also look more at the principles behind the techniques and settings on the camera.
• And I will touch on some basic editing and lighting techniques.
What you need:
• A digital camera that offers some manual control. This is a great class for DSLR users, but you could do it with something more basic. An Iphone 4s would work if you are flexible.
• An editing program that offers cropping and brightness/contrast adjustments.
• A willingness to take some chances and spend some quality time with your camera.
“It was such a nice experience to do this PS class. Love it! It’s the first time I do share my photos and that felt so good.” — Paulina, Mexico
“I want to thank you for the great Photo Silly workshop. I enjoyed the workshop very much and definitely feel more comfortable taking photographs. The assignments were very fun and you did a good job getting the information across. The critiques of the student photos was enormously illuminating and I learned a great deal from them.” — Jennifer, U.S.A.
“Thank you so much for a wonderful first-time online photo class experience! I no longer feel “funny” carrying my camera around with me. Or feel like I am going to break it all the time. My observation skills have sharpened. Looking for light, angles and just plain ‘seeing’ better and this of course, is wonderful and important for photography as well as other art endeavors. One of the best parts of the class for me was all the other great people I ‘met’ here.” — Kathy, U.S.A.
And here are some photos from former Photo Silly students:
And see Steve’s work at www.sonheimphoto.com
… paint and paper…
… gel medium, collage bits, and other fun stuff…
… for some reason these temple-churches kept appearing…
… and, of course, the flowers!
I had a great time, and was happy to spend two full days playing with paint and paper, in the company of so many nice people! It’s a really wonderful, warm and friendly venue, so do check it out!
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I’m back at work with a long to-do list, but happy to be home, too. I get to see little Liam tonight!
Messing around today, warming up for this weekend’s workshop at the Teahouse Studio in Berkeley, CA!
In early January I was in the throes of a certain large project, which was soon coming to an end. I happened to stumble upon an upcoming workshop at the Teahouse Studio with Susy Pilgrim Waters and Sarajo Frieden, two illustrators I’ve admired for years. So I signed up!
Then I talked Steve into coming with me (he’ll ride his bike while I explore collage and gouache with two of my favorite artists). We leave Friday.
So off I go. It’s rare I treat myself like this, but I am so looking forward to it!
(And word on the street is that there’s still room in the class… Here’s the link in case you live in the Bay Area and can join the fun!)
I’m still painting flowers a bit each day and having fun turning them into Spoonflower designs… and I haven’t forgotten that I promised a quick tutorial later in the month!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!