Painting Mural Backgrounds

Tree Placement

Painting with quick and light strokes I put forest on first wall lightly with some clouds above the mountains. The big tree in the foreground on the front right does not sit well with me.WALL “A” is 20’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (200 sq ft). It is time to get moving with painting the rest of the mural background mountains.

wall A background with trees

Background Painting

The second wall background painting begins as I use the light chaulk guidelines that I did at the beginning.WALL “B” is 40’-0” wide by 10’-0” high (400 sq ft). It is fun to be able to imagine an assortment of perfect skiing and boarding slopes as I paint. It almost seems to get colder as I progress across the wall. Painting dark grays and lavender gray hills layered behind medium gray mounds with light slopes in the foreground. While stepping back to admire how this arrangement of hills is working, another item screams loudly at me. Can you guess what it is? Take a look at these three pictures and see if something just grabs your attention as you are looking at the scenery.

corner wall A&B background

Camouflage

How many times have I had items in my mural areas that were horribly distracting? Lots! Unfortunately, such is life and many times these items are quite necessary and almost impossible to change.

Frustration happens when creating a “work of art” and there are obvious distractions visibly interfering. Consequentially, I have tried my best to learn ways to camouflage these un-moveable tyrants. In this area there are electrical conduits in bright and shiny aluminum going right across the sky that need some help.

wall B conduit

The person who taught me to paint houses and walls was my Dad who was a contractor. His rule was to paint every single surface. Voices from the past coming back into our lives.

No short-cuts allowed!

I remember having to paint the bottom and top of shelves in any cupboard and all sides of every door or drawer. Why did I have to paint something I wouldn’t be seeing? There was no arguing the point with him. It upset me at the time. I understand that it is important to make sure the entire surface is sealed, which is something I fully understand and agree with now. This “painting every surface” is a lifelong habit or rule I follow and it has always made a better paint job for me. Mahalo Dad!

Fixing Distractions in Paint

I back track and paint all the conduit and wire surfaces in the same colors as the mural and the improvement to the entire presentation is amazing. Take a look at before and after shots to see the difference. Isn’t it amazing? I didn’t really fix anything I just hid it. Awesome!

You can see the conduits on the left side of the column painted gray and then black where it crosses the column. The wire and conduit on the right side of the column are not yet painted and are distracting. I will be painting these surfaces from here on as I finish the mural. See how un-anticipated additional costs and time accrue?

wall B conduit painted

Take a look at the first image of this post and compare it with this image below. Wa La! No need to let distractions destroy the art.

wall A conduit Painted

Be sure to check this mural out when you visit the 49 Degrees North Ski Resort in Chewelah WA this winter and let them know what you think about their improvements!

 

Yellow Rose Watercolor Steps

yellow rose 07
Doing a rose watercolor involves many steps. Most of the time I can describe my steps simply as washes-on-top-of, washes-on-top-of, washes and so forth. I tend to pile up layers and layers of wash until I like what I see.

Do you know the meaning of the yellow rose?

yellow rose watercolor 08

I began with this yellow rose layout in a sketch. I put a real light wash in the body of the flower bloom first. Being carefully light with the paint I add the long stem and it’s leaves, along with the little bud peeking out on the left side. I am encouraged.

Changed Backgrounds

Lately, I have noticed that I have a habit of painting backgrounds with tons of detail going to the very edge of the paper. To change things up, I will work on getting a dramatic background without walking in those footsteps this time. The biggest realization I have is that this is not going to be good without some serious background to help it pop out. The challenge will be to make an appropriate background that pops but doesn’t take over the main image.

Rose Watercolors

A light yellow rose watercolor can very easily fade into a white background and become a ghost. The background is my beginning to remedying that. With violet wash as a background I add a mixture of Crimson with it on wet areas to the edges of my main character. A good change, don’t you think? 

Dropping vermillion or cadmium reds into these areas give a little more zing as it bleeds into the background violet and crimson.yellow rose 09yellow rose 12

Examining the watercolor rose procedure pictures I’ve taken makes another step that I take real apparent. The picture that I took of the blossom is the reference for the rose watercolor.

Never hesitate to get your old fashioned gear out. Improve by using “photography technique” along with that “real camera” (not a smart phone). Nothing, takes the place of good reference material. If you are trying to improve and learn about where the light hits and shadows extends to, use a well lit photograph. There are millions of amateur photographers out there flooding FaceBook and the image banks with junk, but very few “real skilled photographers” capturing memorable shots with enlightened essence anymore.

Dryly Enlightening

At this point we are looking at the dry version of this watercolor painting. Take note of the differences between the last two images and you will see a noticeable amount of fading occurs as the paints dry. While looking at a wet painting, there are many times that I am tempted to dab a bit of the pigment out of it because it seems so very bright when wet. If I can resist that urge, I am usually a lot happier with the result because the paints do fade so very much by the time they are dry.

yellow rose watercolor 13

Typical Watercolor Portrait

The steps in this typical watercolor portrait commission for the Franks, starts with sketching from a portrait supplied for reference, then applying mastik or resist to reserve needed white areas on the watercolor paper.

portrait sketch with mastik
sketch with mastik

On this image you can see the main areas of the portrait laid out with pencil lightly which I plan on erasing when done. Look for areas of yellow and that is where I am reserving white areas. When I use this mastik it makes it a lot easier to use loose strokes of full color as I paint and therefore making the process of painting a lot more enjoyable.

background painting
background painting

Now, you can see as I begin background watercolor washes around the outline of the man. I love the way that watercolor will bleed into different areas of wet paper where you have other colors. It seems almost magical to me.

The portrait is finally getting to where I can work on the characters skin tones. That begins with a watercolor wash in the skin tones area starting with yellows and adding reds as a base, then blues for shadow.

At the same time I want to start with the shadows on his shirt. The highlights and shadows start to show the shapes in the t-shirt. Isn’t it great to start to see the 3D effect happening? I like to see things begin to bend and become round in front of my eyes by simply using colors.FRANKSson1_04

Franks son 1 background
Franks son 1 background

Time to turn in for the night.