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scbwi Austin

February 11, 2013

It’s good to get out and see things!

Last weekend fellow illustrator Bobbie Dacus and I went down to Austin for the SCBWI chapter’s annual conference. Austinites, you put on a good one. Star painter attraction was the great E. B. Lewis, who was inspirational and incredibly generous with his time.

Day two included a watercolor demo which made me want to give that medium a try! I’ve never pursued it because nothing puts you on the spot like watercolor. Decisions have to be made so quickly, there is no wiping off mistakes, and the least bit of overwork destroys the work.

Some photos of the demonstration…

getting started

getting started

Here the photo reference material has been selected, and E.B. is mixing some grays to begin. There will be several studies done on this sheet.

laying in darks for a high-contrast study

laying in darks for a high-contrast study

The first one is a high-contrast landscape. The general shape has been painted with particular attention paid to the quality of the edges. Warm and cool nuances are dropped into the still-wet paint.

starting study number 2

starting study number 2

The second study is a forest scene with dramatic lighting. Drama is a key factor E.B. looks for when selecting reference for painting. This study begins with a wash of the general color of the light, leaving holes for the brightest whites in the painting. Darker areas are indicated by dropping in more paint, always keeping temperature in mind.

eb4Check out the palette. That’s a big, generous puddle of color he’s working with.

about half finished

about half finished

This was the state of things at the lunch break. The third study has also been started, and you can barely see the pencil indication of where a figure will be standing in the dunes. The photo reference for this one was very atmospheric.

E.B. says to stop 15 minutes before you're finished.

E.B. says to stop 15 minutes before you’re finished.

Finished. The tape defining the edges has been removed. Texture and interest was added to the first image by working the paint with the edge of a credit card. The dark trunks of the trees were added to the forest scene. A sprinkling of salt into the wet paint simulated dappled sunlight, and subsequent layers of paint worked around the dappled pattern. Some dark values have been introduced to the third piece and the figure has been defined.

You can see a splotch under the third study that came from a preliminary demonstration on mixing grays. The way it ended up under one of the studies was unplanned, but ended up being one of those happy accidents. E.B. had an interesting thing to say about working digitally – that everything has to be planned on the computer, leaving no room for divine intervention or the accidental.

the end.


Right side up. These photos were taken on my phone, so unfortunately they weren’t as sharp as I’d like.

Great experience! Gotta go now…gotta paint!


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