Monday, June 22, 2015

Artist of the Month Week Four: Embracing Neutrals

Hey everyone! Melissa here again. Big thanks to Terri for coordinating all this. For those of you just tuning in, Terri organized an Artist of the Month for DLP and 52 Friends, a Facebook group of fabulous artsy lovers and mail swappers. I am June's teachers and this month we will be studying color.

In week's one, two, and three covered monochromatic colors, a basic, but bright, cyan-magenta-yellow triad color, and keeping a color journal. Now that we have practiced stretching a single color and achieving bright mixed colors, we are going to do the complete opposite and make mud, or neutral colors!

Neutrals can really ground a painting as they give your eye something to rest on. As mentioned in week two, by using CYM, you can retain a certain level of brightness, even in your neutrals.

Neutrals are achieved when all three primaries (cyan, yellow and magenta) are present and typically in equal amounts. However, by varying the proportion of each color, you can achieve some gorgeous, soft colors that still have a strong hue to them. The photo below was made with left over paint from cleaning off my palette. Grab a scrap piece of paper and use the let over paint off yours.

So lets start making a page of "mud" that we will use in a project later on. In the photo below, the watercolors were allowed to just bleed into one another, helped along with some gentle page tilting. 

Not so scary, huh? Continue covering the whole page with your paints, letting the mud emerge. We will add another layer, so if its too muddy or even too bright don't worry. 

Note: This is the page the color wheels from week two were demo'd on, so this is a great time to re-use some old practice sheets.

Next, lets cut up the sheet into either Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) or tag size pieces. ATCs are typically 2.5 in x 3.5 in and tags are usually 3 in x 6 in. 

Next grab some collage ephemera that will help some of the colors pop out. The pink from this ATC was begging to show off so I tried to pick pieces that would highlight it.  This would also be a great time to reference your color journal for some new color schemes to play with and you add layers.

All done! This is a great way to use up scraps and give them a new life that can be gifted or traded.

Another idea to get used to playing with neutrals is to start with a water soluble base, like watercolors or even water based markers, then paint over with some watered down acrylics. The watercolors will reactive, like in the painting below, and creating a much softer piece as they blend with the new paint. 

Earlier we made a page from cleaning off our palettes. You can then doodle over these scrap for more one of a kind tags or cards, or perhaps practice some lettering. I added another layer of single colors to the girl below to help differentiate the features. 

That's it for the Artist of the Month series from me. Thank you so much for hanging out with me while we play with color. I hope you had a great time and and would love to see your work. 

Update: here are the links to the previous weeks' lessons

I would love to hear your thoughts on this course. Feel free to hit me up on Instagram @mbochat, Facebook BochatArt Twitter @melissabochat

Monday, June 15, 2015

Artist of the Month Week Three: Color Journals

Hey everyone! Melissa here again. Big thanks to Terri for coordinating all this. For those of you just tuning in, Terry organized an Artist of the Month for DLP and 52 Friends, a Facebook group of fabulous artsy lovers and mail swappers. I am June's teachers and this month we will be studying color.

In week's one and two we discussed monochromatic colors and a basic, but bright, cyan-magenta-yellow triad color. Now that we have the basics down for stretching a single color and achieving bright mixed colors, lets talk about creating our own color schemes and how keeping a color journal can help. Mixing colors easily becomes overwhelming, not to mention muddy. 

Then there are colors that just seem to "work". Have you ever walked into a room, your eye seamlessly flowing across all the colors, each time noticing the colors repeat? Or maybe sat in awe of a journal page that was chock full of of colors, yet never felt overwhelmed? This is typically the result of a balanced color scheme. It can be difficult picking out the dominant color to use and knowing what and how much of supporting colors to incorporate. 

As with most of color theory, there are a lot of technical things we can discuss (balanced triad, rectangle schemes, analogous colors), but instead, here's a few of quick tricks for creating a "stock" of colors for future projects. For all of these you'll need photos with colors you like or think work together. They can be from a magazine or ones you took on your own. Since we are just pulling colors out of the pictures, it shouldn't be an issue using stock photos, but its always a good exercise to work from your own photography. 

The first trick is great when out and about, is to squint your eyes at a photo or scene. Here's a pillow I saw while out shopping.

As the images becomes fuzzy, its easier to see what colors pop out. These are typically the dominant colors  and are a good start for picking colors for a project.The magenta, gold and lime really pop out of this photo.

If you are drawing on location, this is a great tip to help you block out basic shapes (drawn on top below) and contrast (the darkest darks and lightest lights).

A second tip is to rely on a color picker program. While there are some web based programs, you can use the efforts professional paint companies spend coming up with decor schemes. There are several free free apps some of the big name paint stores have for your phone, in which  you can upload a picture and it will pull the top colors. Here's a few examples.

In this photo, the orange that jumps out at you. The photo picker (I think it's by Benjamin Moore) also picked out the red accent from the edges of the rose, the green foliage, some dark shadows and the blue from the delphinium. Over all, this color scheme makes me think of the fall, despite the subject matter being very spring-y flowers, so I will most likely save this photo/color scheme for a fall project.

In this sun rise photo (don't worry, I was in the passenger seat), it's easy to see the dominant light blue, then the accentuating yellow and pink. Even though I know the trees are really green, the color picker interpreted them as black, which will provide good contrast (remember week one?) for our color scheme. This would be a great scheme for a beachy layout.


You can also take this a step further, and zero in on a specific color. The aqua on this bird's throat really jumped out at me, so I tapped on the color, and the app gave be a range of aquas to look at.


By tapping the little expand button in the bottom left corner, the app will also give a simple triad, with proportional representation of the main color and two accents, in this case, the aqua, a gray and a taupe. Once you can see how to balance the colors, its easy to keep from over using the accent colors. 

The third tip is similar to the second, in that we will take cues from the resources magazines put into their work. The following photos are all from Better Homes & Gardens and Stampington, and were glued into my personal journal. Its a good exercise to try "pulling" out colors yourself.

I typically will recreate the color scheme in my journal with supplies I have, documents what I used and if I mixed colors to save time down the road. 

In this photo, there were lots of yellows and creams, so I proportionally ranked the colors from the photo.

This pillow has a lot of colors in i, but the blue and green really jumped out. It would be easy to create a scheme with just those two and one of the accent colors (do you see the touch of orange and black?) or challenge yourself to try to integrate all the colors. If you are struggling trying to pick out the colors and how much of each to use to keep things balanced, you could even cut of the picture to have visual sums of the colors. 

This is a very simple complementary color scheme, which just means the colors are on opposite sides of a color wheel, with one a primary color (blue) and one a secondary color (orange). As we talked about in week two, any time you have all three primary colors present, you are more at risk of making mud, so just be careful how you choose to blend the colors, or use a neutral or white to separate them. 

This photo is a great example of how you can alter the color scheme from the photo. Although the orangey color on the face is more predominant, the violet around the eyes was more appealing to me. The violet would also blend better with the blues then the orange (see above), so I ramped up the purple and lessened the peach and orange for this scheme. Its still balanced, mostly blues and greens, with a touch of a contrasting color. 

 So, to recap real fast:
 1. Squint at a photo to pull out colors and shapes
 2. Use a color picker program
 3. Recreate color schemes from magazines

Pretty easy, huh? Once you start collecting color schemes, you will be surprised how quick the accumulate.I keep an entire journal dedicated to colors schemes for inspiration in future projects. Its a fun process to work through when you are feeling less than inspired and it wastes less time mulling over what colors to use.  So play away and have fun!

I hope you will share your work with us! Please feel free to post links to your work (be it blog, flickr, etc) in the comments below.

Here are the other weeks' lessons

I would love to hear your thoughts on this course. Feel free to hit me up on Instagram @mbochat, Facebook BochatArt Twitter @melissabochat

Monday, June 8, 2015

Artist of the Month Week Two: CMY vs BRY

Hey everyone! Melissa here again. Big thanks to Terri for coordinating all this. For those of you just tuning in, Terry organized an Artist of the Month for DLP and 52 Friends, a Facebook group of fabulous arsty lovers and mail swappers. I am June's teachers and this month we will be studying color. 

Picking colors can be very overwhelming, and picking colors that, well, just don't work  can turn a really great page in to a dull, muddy mess. I tend to try and work in triads, to not only lessen the stress of picking colors, but to keep my page brighter and more cohesive. 

Everyone knows the primary colors are Blue, Red, and Yellow. And with them you can make any color. So in theory you should only need three colors... right? We artsy folks know its almost never that simple when picking paint, as there may be 10 or more versions of blue alone! Typically, the BRY scheme is referring to Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red and Cadmium Yellow. Its pretty easy to get some shade of green and orange when mixing colors but purple..... Without getting too technical (like that Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red and Yellow are all warm colors), if you have ever tried to mix these colors, its pretty tricky to get a purple, let alone all the other vibrant colors we know exist. 

Ironically it was an IT friend of mine who, after I swore all colors can be made with BRY, asked me the question of whether or not I ever noticed that printers use CYAN, MAGENTA, and YELLOW, not Blue, Red and Yellow. Hmmmm. Good point. My printer can certainly make purple, every time.

For a quick reference, the top purple below is cyan and magenta, the bottom is ultramarine blue and perylene scarlett (which I often use in place of cadmium red).


So again without getting too technical (like that Cyan, Magenta and lemon Yellow are all cool colors), CYM can create much more vibrant colors, which out as much chance of making "mud". For example, in the page below my son, two at the time, made the base with CMY, and I added a few doodles over the top. See how rich the colors remained? Even the muds are pretty.

 So this week, spend some time making triads with some of your favorite paints. Start by picking a blue, a yellow and red and see what works but more importantly what doesn't. Substitute in a pink for red and see the changes. Then a cyan, etc. 

 All this said, there is a time an place for BRY. Most landscape scenes are a bit muted and not a vibrant, so a more muted palette might really work better. Now if I was painting a tropic beach scene, CMY might be the way to go. Look at the two images below. Where can you envision seeing these color schemes? The beach? The mountains? 

So think about what you are trying to achieve with your painting. I lean a bit more towards the whimsical, so CMY is my go to palette. When I am working on nature sketches or more classical pieces, I incorporate the traditional BRY a bit more.

Tip: you probably hear a lot about warm and cool colors. If you are looking for a more "neutral" color, mix a warm and cool together. 

Continue to experiment with flooding colors into one another (if you are using acrylic, just keep adding touches of each other, or you can water things down so they act a bit more like a watercolor). I lean towards watercolors because I just adore the granulation and interactions that occur, but just keep playing there is no rule you can't use a pink Dylusions spray with a cyan acrylic with a yellow watercolor. There is also no rule you can't use an ultramarine blue with magenta and lemon yellow. My personal most favorite purple comes from ultramarine blue mixed with magenta. 

Below are a few pages I made while experimenting. Hold on to you sheets for down the road. The make wonderful collage fodder and you never know where you might be able to use them!

After you have mastered the CMY triad, see what else you can come up with, as well as secondary triads. The one below was done with a Pthalo turquoise (Daniel Smith), a helios purple (Sennelier) and sunshine orange (Holbian).

I hope you will share your work with usl Please feel free to post links to your work (be it blog, flickr, etc) in the comments below.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this course. Feel free to hit me up on Instagram @mbochat, Facebook BochatArt Twitter @melissabochat

Thanks again for joining us this week. Hope you have fun. See you next week, for keeping a color journal!

Here are the other weeks' lessons

Monday, June 1, 2015

Artist of the Month Week 1: Monochromatic

Welcome everyone, especially those of your from DLP and 52 Friends! It is such an honor to be your featured teacher this month. When Terri asked if I had an idea for a topic, I knew almost instantly it needed to be color. Color is a huge part of my life. Last summer i even did a weekly self challenge to find more color in my life! Color is so integral to making art and a few tips can really impact the outcome and even one's long term style. 

Over the next few weeks we are going to cover four things:
1. Monochromatics
2. Triads
3. Color Journals
4. Neutrals

This we week, we will make a journal page using one color or shade, similar to the one below. 

It can be overwhelming to pick which colors to use, so my limiting ourselves to just one, we can focus on other things like composition and contract, which are just as important to making a unified page. Typically when we hear monochromatic, we think one color. Technically, it means one color, or hue with, black and white added to darken and lighten it, respectively. Most of my work is with watercolors, so in lieu of white, you just add more water, like below, to make lighter ranges. 

However, to me, monochromatic means one color family, with all the hues and shades included. So in this lesson, I picked blue, and will be using a variety of aquas, navys, etc. 

Spend a few pages playing with the paints you have to find a color family that speaks to you today, as well as making light and dark ranges. Hang onto these for down the road.

Lets get started! 

Note: This page was made fairly intuitively, without much end goal in mind. Feel free to explore where this takes you!

Your DLP journal (I'm using a Strathmore Skills Mixed Media Journal which was like $3 from Hobby Lobby)
A few stamps 
Black paper (can be construction or what ever you have on hand, so long as its not a gloss paper)
House hold bleach
A junky paint brush
Thicker white scrap paper, like Bristol, card stock, watercolor
A piece of paper in your chosen hue (can be self made or from your scrap box)
A stencil of a shape (or a pencil and Xacto knife to cute one out)
A few acrylic paints in your chosen hue
Baby wipes or slightly damp paper towels
Some black and white paint or inks 
A Sharpie
A white Uni-ball signo
A glue stick
Some college fodder
Washi tape in your chosen hue
Sewing machine

Note: Supplies can be a touchy subject. I listed what I used, but DO NOT feel like you need to go out and buy anything. Half the fun of making art is getting creative with supplies. And you can get beautiful colors with cheap supplies. Until about a month ago, the only acrylics I had were the $0.50 kind and I still keep a $2 crayola watercolor set on hand.

Grab some black paper, preferably something porous. A glossy paper, like from a magazine or scrapbook paper, may not work as well, but feel free to experiment! I found some black paper on which one of my kids scribbled. Next, grab some stamps, preferably ones with strong lines, but not too much small details. Below are are butterfly and feather.

Paint the bleach on the stamp with a junky brush or dip the stamp in the bleach, then make continuous impressions on the paper with the stamp. Each successive print should will get lighter, with the middle prints most likely having the most detail. It will take a few minutes for the image to fully emerge. The photo below was about 10 seconds after stamping so you can see later on how much more it developed.

Note: Be careful working with bleach, especially if you have pets or kids around. Wear junky clothes, work in a well ventilated area, pour your bleach right before you need it and put it away as soon as you are done. I washed my stamps and brush within a minute and the stamps fared well from this experiment. We want to have fun but be safe!

Next, brush some paint (I used watercolor) in the hue you chose on the stamp and repeat making continuous prints on some white paper (I used Bristol, but used what you have).

Find a piece of paper in your hue, preferably one with a few shades on it. Pick a shape, maybe one that ties into the stamps you chose, and cut it out. The sheet below is a color test page I made during with Gina Lee Kim. I decided to cut out a bird, to go with the feather stamp I picked earlier.

The stamped pages with the bleach and paint should be dry by now, so comb through your prints and cut out your favorites. Start thinking about the composition for your page. At think point, I honestly had no clue where this was going. Since we were talking about monochromatic, I wanted to focus on creating contrast, to really play up the light and dark shades. 

Grab your acrylic paints. Add some dots to your page and smear away! I use a baby wipe, as I like how it blends, and I tend to notice less buckling than when I brush paint on. You could also use an old gift card to scrap the paint on.

Add some dark paint to the top of the page and some lighter paint to the bottom. You could also do this while making your initial layer, but as I mentioned, there wasn't a lot of forethought to this page! I used a black Inktense stick by Dewent on the top, as I didn't want to over power the base color with an acrylic paint, but wanted something that wouldn't reactive like a watercolor paint. I did use some white acrylic paint on the bottom of the page, after the white Inktense didn't make the effect I wanted. 

Once this layer has dried, start playing with composition again. I added some eyes and a wing to my bird, drew a branch for him and some legs, with a Sharpie and white Signo pens, respectively. 

Grab one of the sheets you tested shades on earlier and pick a quote to write on it. Since my color was blue and I had blues on my page, I added a quote by Vincent Van Gogh about the sky. Now comes the fun part - gluing things down! 

Add any other fodder that speaks to you to wrap up your page. You could also draw or add doodles to it. I personally like secret journaling, and will often journal on the back of things before I glue them in. As you can see in the page above, there was a bit of a gap on the bottom of my page. There was a letter "B" laying around (actually off a toy my kids received) so I added it with some matching washi tape. I also went back later and added a stitch over the butterflys and the feathers with my sewing machine as a afterthought.

From here, this page could serve as inspiration for a more finished piece. There is a meaningful quote and some great textures, as well as interesting pushes and pulls on colors.Most important are the lessons I learned along the way.

Here are a few other ideas for making monochromatic pages:




I hope you had fun experimenting with just one color today. Feel free to add links in the comments to posts or photos. Looking forward to playing with triads next week with you!

Here are the other weeks' lessons
Week 4 Neutrals

I would love to hear your thoughts on this course. Feel free to hit me up on Instagram @mbochat, Facebook BochatArt Twitter @melissabochat