Monday, June 5, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 3, Paint

Paint! If I had to rate the importance of watercolor supplies, paint would be at the top of the list as the second most important. (What's number one? We'll talk about that next week.)

Despite my pleas, at almost every workshop I teach, a student will arrive with a palette of paint turds. You might know what I mean--those hard, pea-sized blobs of paint that look like they were squeezed out a century ago. The problem with dried out blobs of paint is that it is incredibly hard to load up your brush with pigment, making your painting a likely candidate for the wimpy pile.

I always recommend that students buy tubes of paint instead of pans for the same reason.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 2, Palette

Sure, I know. It's not one of the sexier watercolor supplies, but having a good palette really is essential. Here are some things I look for in a palette:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Watercolor Essentials: Part 1, Brushes

Students are often at a loss when buying watercolor supplies for the first time. I hear you. I have a studio filled with supplies that I bought when I first started painting that I never use anymore. Why am I still hanging on to them? Good question and probably an answer for a therapist, not a blog.

I thought it might be helpful if I take the next several weeks to write about the materials that I do use and why.

Let's start with brushes.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Watercolor Master Class: Expressive Portraits and Figures

Creation by Peggi Habets, watercolor

Learn to paint expressive and creative portraits and figures in watercolor 
  • small-class environment (18 students max.) 
  • all levels
  • follow instructor-led exercises or work on your own paintings
  • one-on-one guidance and development
  • pre-workshop goal-setting
  • brand-new 1500 sf studio space
This is not your everyday watercolor workshop! This is a retreat, vacation, and master class all in one, housed at the world-renowned Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. The 2000 acre resort features a multi-million dollar art collection, a luxury spa, a Forbes 5-star restaurant and two world-class golf courses and many other exciting amenities.

Melanie Werner, Art Collection Curator and Director of Nemacolin Gallery will host a welcome reception on Sunday followed by a guided tour of the multi-million dollar Hardy Family Collection.

Monday, May 8, 2017

New! One-Day Figure Workshop

Last November, I taught a one-day portrait workshop at the New Kensington Art Center. We had such a great time, we are doing it again. Only this time our focus will be the figure. There are a few spaces available. If you live in the Pittsburgh area and want to join in the fun, you can register here. Syllabus and supply list available on my website.

Here are some photos from the last workshop:

Monday, May 1, 2017

American Watercolor Society 150th International Exhibition

I had the good fortune to be able to attend the AWS awards dinner this past weekend at the Salmagundi Club in New York City. I was a bit of a fan girl as I recognized so many artists whose watercolors have influenced me over the years. Talking to them and seeing their work in person was the best part of the evening. I was also thrilled to receive an award for my painting, "What Plagues Us?" Here are a few pics from the evening.

Monday, April 24, 2017

4-Day Watercolor Workshop

I spent 4 days in Charlotte, NC teaching a wonderful bunch of artists at Nancy Couick's Studio. The students were enthusiastic and so willing to try new, challenging concepts. 

Day One
I demonstrated painting features, skin tones and a head-only portrait. 

The students then painted their own versions.
Student portraits

Day Two and Three
Students finished their head-only portraits and started planning larger, personal works of art using value sketches and color studies. We discussed color harmony, values, and most important, the "why" (not what) of our painting. 

Day Four
Students worked on their larger paintings by following their color studies and value sketches. Students learned to self-critique and we ended the workshop with a group critique of everyone's work. 

I learned something too. A student told me about a nifty, new tool from Rosemary Brushes called an eradicator (which I bought) that removes paint from a painting without damaging the paper. It works great!

Thanks to all the students who attended and helped to make the workshop a great success!

3rd Annual Cabin Retreat

This winter, I snuck away on my "Third Annual Painting Retreat" which was, basically,
me alone in the woods with my paints...and a few select amenities.

The weather was beautiful and completely uncharacteristic for February in Pennsylvania, so I was able to spend some time painting outside.

Here is a sneak peak of some works in progress. I look forward to sharing the finished
paintings with you later this year at my open studio and upcoming exhibition.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Step Seven: Framing

This is the last step of "7 Steps of A Painting". Here are steps One: InspirationTwo: Computer DesignThree: Value SketchFour: Color Studies, Five: Drawing and Six: Painting.

Framing is an artform in itself and the right framing can make your painting look even better. However, talk about overwhelming! There is a dizzying array of choices of mat style and color, framing, and choice of glass or acrylic. Taking the time to find an excellent framer is so worth the effort. The framer will help you make a decision by narrowing your choices to fit your preferences. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Step Six: Painting

This is Step Six of "7 Steps of A Painting". Here are steps One: InspirationTwo: Computer DesignThree: Value SketchFour: Color Studies, and  Five: Drawing.

People often ask me how long it takes me to paint a portrait. They are surprised to find out that the planning and design take about twice as long as the actual painting. Having my value sketch and color study to guide me takes the guesswork out of which colors to choose or how light or dark areas should be, allowing me to paint freely and confidently. It also eliminates the question I hear in every single workshop, "what should I paint in my background?".

Monday, March 27, 2017

Step Five: Drawing

This is Step Five of "7 Steps of A Painting". Here are steps One: Inspiration, Two: Computer Design, Three: Value Sketch and Four: Color Studies.

Now that you have excellent reference material, a design and composition plan, and a color scheme, you are ready to start your drawing. There are two ways that I use to draw my image onto the watercolor paper: freehand drawing and trace/freehand combo.

Drawing Freehand
When I paint from life, I have no choice but to draw freehand. This means I am looking at my model and drawing what I see without the aid of a grid or other tools. Strong drawing skills can only be acquired with practice. I also draw simple figures and cityscapes freehand.

Trace/Freehand Combo
For my large, complicated designs, I do a combo of tracing and freehand drawing. Watercolor paper can only withstand so much erasing without damaging the paper. To avoid that, I first print out my figures the exact size I want for the painting. I cut them out and arrange them on my paper. I trace an outline of the figures and then draw in the details. This saves considerable time and erasing because I know I at least have my figures in the right place before I finish the drawing.

I draw my images onto 260 or 300 pound Arches cold press paper. I use the rougher side of the 260, and the smoother side of the 300. I use an HB or 2B pencil and a kneaded eraser.

Below is a new painting I have drawn up, ready to go!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Step Four: Color Studies

This is Step Four of "7 Steps of A Painting". Here are Steps One: Inspiration, Two: Computer Design: and Three: Value Sketches.

My students like color studies much more than the value sketches of Step Three. The color studies are small, 5x7" paintings that are fun to play around with because it allows you to try out several of different color schemes, especially a color combination you wouldn't normally use.

Here is my value sketch from Step 3.

Because I wanted to keep the original colors of the stain-glass window, I decide to paint with an analogous color scheme of blue, blue-violet, violet, red-violet, and red, and a complement of yellow. I can see how the painting will look and feel before starting on the larger painting. I like it, so the next step is the drawing--stay tuned for next week's post.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Step Three: Value Study

Here we are at Step Three of a seven-part series on creating a painting from conception to framing. Step One discussed inspiration and Step Two covered computer design.

Step Three is the probably most hated step among my workshop students. Beginner students find it difficult to understand how a small, black and white rough sketch can improve their paintings. It takes time and lots of practice to see the benefit of arranging your painting into simple black and white value shapes. The arrangement and adjustments of the value shapes can make or break a painting.

In Step Two, I showed you the initial computer design for my painting, Disconnected.

I took the image of the mother and child and combined it in Photoshop with the image of the stained-glass window and a brick wall. If you squint your eyes at the design, you can see that there is not a good mix of light and dark values. The stained-glass window, the upper left shadow, and the figures are almost the same value and there is no impact. The shapes all blend together. I can adjust those values with a little sketch.

In the value sketch, I adjusted the lights and darks so that the highest contrast on the mother, keeping her the focal point despite the busy stained-glass window behind her. The window is mid to dark values with the darker shapes leading from the upper, right corner to the figures. The figures are framed by the vertical and horizontal lines. 

Next week: Color studies.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Step Two: Computer Design

This is part two of a seven-part series on my process for creating a painting. Last week was Step One: Inspiration.

Once I have my initial inspiration, I put the image into Photoshop to work out the concept and design. As I explained in step one, the original photo had many detracting elements that did not add anything to the painting.

As I looked at the photo of the mother and child, I thought of "Madonna and child" and began to play with the idea of a modern-day Madonna and child. I browsed the internet for images of churches and stained glass. Juxtaposing the mother and child with the stained-glass image shown below made me think of the many ways that people today feel either supported or disconnected by the church. Placing the woman and child below the Madonna seemed to suggest that the woman was being watched over, or is it judged? It will be up to the viewer to use their own ideas and experiences to interpret the painting for themselves.

I run out the computer-enhanced image in a 5x7 size so I can proceed to my next step, value sketches, which is next week's post.

Original photo

After computer design

Monday, February 20, 2017

Step One: The Inspiration

The next seven posts will explore the steps of creating a painting from beginning to end. The steps I follow are, roughly: inspiration; computer design; value sketches; color studies; drawing, painting; and framing.

This post explores step one, the inspiration. This is the "why" of your painting. Why were you draw to this particular image and why do you want to paint it? The answer to that question will guide your decisions through the painting process.

Here is the initial reference photo for my painting, Disconnected.

About The Photo
I was walking in Charleston, SC and saw this young mother and baby sitting on the curb. I was drawn to the loving way she held and looked at her son, as well as the beautiful lighting on her hair and arm. This was all I needed as inspiration.

Copying the photo as-is was not an option. The location, car, and vegetation detract from the imagery of the mother and child. How to incorporate the inspiration into a well-designed and conceptual painting? Stay tuned for next week's post.The next several steps will be focused on the design and composition.

Next week, Step Two: Computer Design.