Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Charles de Lint and Charles Vess book signing

Charles Vess, Charles de Lint, MaryAnn Harris (from left to right)

Last night was fun! Matt and I went to the University of Washington bookstore for a book signing of “Seven Wild Sisters” written by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess. What a delightful presentation. Not only did we get to hear a selection from the book, but Charles (de Lint) and his wife, MaryAnn Harris played a few songs for us, while Charles (Vess) did a sketch. As always, Charles de Lint was great-hearted about signing mounds of books that people brought from home.

Charles Vess sketch
I had met Charles de Lint before, but never Charles Vess. As far as I'm concerned Charles Vess is one of the top fantasy illustrators we have right now.  While chatting with Mr. Vess, I discovered that he will be giving a professional illustration workshop in Washington this weekend and I was able to snag the very last spot!!! Wow!!!
Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint fast sketch drawn while he was playing music.
This is bound to be a mighty exciting weekend and I just can’t wait. I’ll be blogging about my experiences so stay tuned, I'm certain the workshop will be a lot of fun!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Casein Painting #4 — Matt

"Matt" by Sara Light-Waller, 2014
Casein and watercolor, 9 x 12, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
For this newest painting, I chose a subject near and dear to my heart – my husband, Matt. I wanted to try a few new things in this painting. First, I wanted to do a complete watercolor underpainting. I used Burnt Umber for this as I thought this might provide a rich undertone, as it would in oils.

Second, I wanted to create the look of a color-tinted black and white photograph. To do this, I first created a black and white painting in casein and then used watercolor to tint the painting, knowing that once the casein has had time to set, it won’t move on the paper. (Another nice casein feature.)

Here’s the way it went —

Underpainting in watercolor

Black and white casein painting

Final painting tinted with watercolor
So – end result? Casein is my baby! I love, love, love it! It handles perfectly for me and I totally get it. Casein can be used in a variety of styles from something resembling watercolor to something resembling oils. It's an illustrator's dream. :-)

So, now back to the Book I cover which, the way, I will be doing in casein.

More Casein Tips — Or, learning as I go

"Matt" - WIP casein
General watercolor & casein tip – Keeping a damp paper towel nearby is useful for getting excess paint off your brush. But it can also be used to dampen your clean brush just enough for smoothing and feathering. Works like a charm!

Casein tip #9 — To make clean-up easier, I’m trying a sheet of wax paper as my palette. I’ve set the paper inside a clean butcher tray. This makes clean-up much easier.

Casein tip #10 — Color strings are good! Premixing a range of colors before you start painting makes things go much faster. And, if need to mix more of a particular color, you already have a template for remixing. Nice!
I used five discrete premixed colors
in my newest casein painting

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Shifting the Color Scheme

Here is a sketchbook exercise I did yesterday. It was based on a gamut mapping exercise from James’ Gurney’s book, “Color and Light: Guide for the Realistic Painter.” He does an excellent job describing this exercise and also how to create a gamut mask in his blog.

My goal was to shift the color palette of my photo reference in a triadic color scheme from cool to warm colors. I did two small drawings to try this out. The first drawing used the natural (cool) colors of the photo. In the second drawing, I shifted the colors across the color wheel to warm colors in a similar triadic relationship.

I started with this photograph I took on Orcas Island, WA.

Next, I did a small drawing using a yellow-orange, a red-violet, and a blue Prismacolor pencil. I also used a 50% cool gray, and a black pencil. I mixed my secondaries from the primary colors and got a purple, a green, and a red-orange, as well as a subjective (visually correct) neutral - a reddish gray that “read” as true gray next to the other colors.
Color test #1 - natural colors (cool).
Prismacolor drawing in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.

In my second drawing I used three colors – yellow-orange, red, and blue-violet, as well as two grays – 50% and 70%, and black. My mixed secondaries were red-orange, violet and a very weak gray-green. The green was so weak that it barely reads as green at all, only in comparison to the rest of the colors in the drawing. The subjective neutral (gray) in this drawing is a pink-gray, which reads as true “gray” in comparison to the other colors.
Color test #2 - shifted colors (warm).
Prismacolor drawing in Stillman & Birn Zeta sketchbook.
I was pleased with my test, and my shifted color palette. (I actually liked the shifted color drawing better than the original.) If I were going to do a painting next, I’d probably do a few more color tests, to find the perfect color scheme to get just the right feeling for my painting.