- Lesson details
In this lesson, instructor Sheldon Borenstein continues his perspective series by showing you how to apply the fundamentals of perspective to a watercolor demonstration of an Italian building. Sheldon will show you a direct and loose approach to applying principles of perspective, color, composition, and technique. We recommend you first watch Sheldon’s perspective lessons before viewing this demo.
- Handmade Watercolor Paper
- Winsor & Newton Watercolor Bijou Box (or Field Box Set)
- Conniseur Pure Round Kolinsky Sable Travel Brush – #7
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we really hate, now we’re going to apply it. We’re going to use a medium to apply
it that is actually organic. We’re going to use watercolor, and we’re going to put
that watercolor on a very special paper that goes back to the Renaissance. It was purchased
in Italy. Really expensive, it’s hard to find. There is like one place, and the guy
doesn’t even have a website. I mean Michelangelo and Rubens and Leonardo had websites for God
sakes. So we’re going to go back to Italy time, and we’re going to do an Italian building
and start to just apply what we learned, but kind of loosen it up a little bit.
Watercolor is a great medium for that. Watercolor is tough. Watercolor means you’ve seen death
and survived—and sometimes not. It’s the most difficult of mediums, and it’s my favorite.
I love, love doing watercolors. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I’m going to enjoy
doing it for you. And as much as I hold my breath and hope it works because watercolor
has its own life. Let me know what you think, and let’s move on to applying perspective
with a nice, organic, loose medium—watercolor.
The reason why is that this paper is crazy. It’s from Italy and there is only one place
that has it in a sketchbook. My daughter was in Italy playing basketball representing the
United States, and she wanted to get me a gift. This guy doesn’t even have a website,
and he makes these beautiful sketchbooks. They’re gorgeous. But you have to track
this guy down and go in there and hope he even has some. So this paper is really fun,
okay? So that’s the paper. Don’t ask me what it’s called. Don’t ask me how to
get it. It’s in one place in Venice Italy, and I have enough of it to last me probably
the rest of my life because I’m using it very sparingly, and I only use it for doing
really pretty watercolor studies. So I’ve got, I think, two more of these, you know,
and then I’ve got three of the small one. So that’s going to be the paper we’re
using. I want to have some fun with it.
As far as the brush, this is just a Connoisseur. Not the greatest brand, but man I like it.
I really like it. It’s Kolinsky sable. I have a lot of brushes. It really feels good.
As far as the paint goes, I’m using this little travel kit. This is Winsor & Newton
artist grade. Be very careful. You’ll do just as fine working with a Winsor & Newton
Cotman, which is a student grade. But the artist grade is going to set you back. This
little kit right here runs about $125. I got it for free. By the way, I also got the brush
for free so I’m very lucky in the art world.
But, if you can see I’m putting paint back in, and the paint I’m squeezing in there
is artist grade. Just so you know, a tube of artist grade watercolor could run you $25,
$30. But is it worth it? Oh yeah, definitely worth it. Now, my little kit, you might wonder
what this little black thing is. What I’ve done because I like to paint on location is
I took a cap from a medicine container, one of the medicines, a pill container, and put
some Velcro on the back, and I just velcro’d, and there you go.
Okay, so what I’m going to go is kind of just stain the water. One of the things that
I’m always thinking about that I screw up on is they always say, Sheldon; I go what?
Why do you think they call it watercolor? I don’t know. Idiot, Sheldon, come on, wake
up. They call it watercolor because it’s water. Unless you’re on the East coast then
it’s “watta.” So it’s “wattacolor.” If you’re in L.A. it’s like, dude, it’s wet.
So what we’re going to want to do is put down shapes and float the color. Let’s just
first establish our perspective. So we’re standing low. We’re looking up, kind of
a three-point perspective, a subtle three-point perspective. Let’s draw our vertical.
Then we’re going to come down this way.
Okay, then we’re going to go this way.
That's going to establish the entire painting right there. So it’s not real extreme.
We'll probably go like that. So that’s it. That’s your painting. Let’s go home. What we’re
going to do is just go right for shapes. So this is kind of a pinkish color. Now remember,
when we’re painting...use your cheerleader wisely.
Push it back. So this is going to be a bit on the pink side
because it kind of a pinkish building. What I’m doing is I’m painting the shapes.
You need to have your drawing down. Then this line is coming in like that. There it is.
Look at that. You see that? It’s pink. But I float color into that because it’s wet.
That’s where you’ve got to be really, really understanding of what watercolor is.
The water does the work.
Now look, this is wet, right? So I can start floating color in there. See?
Let the paint do the work. It’s really fun.
This is wet. I know it’s wet so I can get away with a lot.
Here I’m going to push this area really far back.
This is the shadow side here.
See how dry that is? That’s called dry brush so I’m going to put water in.
Make this a shape.
Once I have that shape I can just throw anything I want in there.
There you go.
Then that’s on the dry paper there.
Okay, now we’re going to come in here. Put in little shapes.
Now, watercolor should be looser.
You’re not trying to—you know, I do tight watercolors. I make them almost
photorealism, but as a whole watercolor typically is fairly loose.
You want to play with your negative and positive spaces.
Boom. Just don’t give up an opportunity. If you have a
wet part of your painting. Don’t give up an opportunity to put something in there. Let
it float because that’s what watercolor is all about.
It’s the ability to float things in your paint.
We’ve got this kind of beat-up area underneath. For that I can
put in a dry brush. Watch. Boom. See? There’s your dry brush.
Watercolor is an insane amount of fun once you start to understand.
When you see my brush move away I’m shaking the brush, and that gets the paint out of the brush, gets the
water out of the brush. You want to be careful how you put your, how much water is in your brush.
The principles are all the same. The difference is just the medium.
Then I’m going to take and put a lot of water here. Just throw some tone in there.
Okay, and this is going up at an angle. Now watch, if I take clear water and touch it
it’s going to move over. It’s going to float.
But you have to know how to control
the medium. It just comes from hours of experimenting.
This is starting to dry, so I can come in here and throw in some accents.
I’m going to do this tomorrow. This is the day that
I plan. Tomorrow is Ally. If you see me wearing this necklace it’s from Ally. Ally is 20.
She’s has been teaching college students since she was only 12 and probably one of
the greatest teachers and incredible artists. She is going to college with me, but I’ve
been teaching her since she was very young. Again, this is what it’s all about. It’s
about paying it forward. And she’s pays it back. She’s such a good kid. But what
a talent. Again, these are your new names. These are going to be your next levels of
masters. You’ve got Ally Chetkovitch and tomorrow we’re going to go out and paint,
and I’m going to teach her how to control her colors. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
I’m going to use this paper, and I’m going to use this paint. Now, if I were copying
it I wouldn’t have this line here, but since I’m not copying I need that side plane right there.
So these are just kids to look forward to. Look for the future.
Pay it back. Just listened to an interview, and the person being interviewed did not mention anybody
that this person got their stuff from. One of them was me. He never mentioned the name. That stuff
will bite you. No person is an island.
Okay, so we’ve got that. One of things I want to do is I want to throw a little shadow
going across. There it is.
Okay, so this is just box shapes. That’s it. This one is going up.
Watercolor can be fairly fast.
You can have fun with watercolor. You can be very spontaneous.
It actually should be. Look at how strong that is. See it? Look at that red,
boy. It’s going to scream. What’s the complement? Add a little green to it. That’s
all. Look at that, kills it right back. See? Then I can put it on there and it won’t
be as strong. Also, tie it together. Maybe put a little there, put a little there.
Okay, now I want to have some fun on this side. This stuff here is all wet. I’m going
to take some different colors. Grab this right here, and I’m going to go down real fast
so it’s going to get a dry brush effect. See that? That’s going to give me texture.
Okay, so it’s a different feel than this. It’s important. Let’s try it here too.
See that? Dry brush.
I saved watercolor for retirement from the industry. I didn’t know that would be when
I was 37 years old. I didn’t leave the industry. I just took a break, but I really focused
on the watercolor and it’s hard. But I had the support of one of the largest art supply
stores in L.A., and boy they took care of me. They made sure that I had the best supplies
that existed, and it made a big difference. So they made sure I had what I needed in the
world of supplies. Again, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by the
people I’m surrounded with, the best.
Okay, so that’s our front. I want to put some windows in. You need to kind of like
we do in the figure drawing, a hieroglyphic for your windows.
Let’s just go, okay, here’s a window.t
a window. There’s a window. There’s a window.
Again, a lot of this I learned from
people like Glenn Pauline and Josh Jun, these incredible new talents who are students taught
me how to do this. I'm not smart enough.
I had a student, somebody who was studying my work online. He said I’m
going to come visit you. Yeah, right, from Australia. They showed up. They showed up
at my school. They said I’m here. Who are you? They go I’m the one who emailed you.
From Australia? What did you get on the 405 Freeway and get lost? They came in and studied
for a while. It was so nice. It’s really wonderful when you get to hear from everybody
from all around the world.
Again, it’s just so lucky we get to work with you guys.
Then, of course, the real givers like New Masters Academy
like New Masters Academy who put it all together for us. Bring everybody together.
Okay, so there you go. That’s your front.
the—look at how strong that is. Wow, that paint is strong. Welcome to the world of artist grade.
We’re going to just gray it, gray it, gray it.
So now we’re going to this grayed back color, it comes from here and goes straight up.
You want to go for the shape.
It’s going to cool as it turns. Now, it’s interesting. Just because this is so blue
doesn’t mean it’s going to completely go around because chroma, the amount of hue
or pigment can also bring it forward. So you want to make sure that it’s not only cooler
as it turns, but it’s also desaturated. So you want to desaturate the color. Get rid
of that chroma. I call it chroma. Hue, pigment, whatever you want to call it. It can get very
dangerous if it’s too strong. So I’m just putting down base color right now. Maybe a
shadow. Look how strong that green is. This is such strong paint. A complement might be
this brown right there. We’ll push it in there. Everybody is going to tell you different,
and you’ve got the best. I mean you’ve got Bill Perkins. There’s nobody better
than Bill. He’s an old friend. He’s the best in the world.
Boom, see that? There you go.
Alright, so that’s that shape. Remember, what Leonardo da Vinci said; learn everything
and then throw it away and only draw with three shapes. Alright, so we have that. Now
we’re going to put in the dome. That’s kind of a grayish color. It comes in and comes in.
The cylinder is going up; we’re looking up at it.
Get this color coming up. And it’s going to come down like that. This will be a center
of interest area so I want it to be strong. Notice how that pigment is so strong that
it actually pushes your eye.
I want a family. See how warm this is? I want to put a warm
in there also. So we’ve got that. Then we move up here, and we’ve got the same thing.
This is a cylinder.
Then this comes in and then it goes up. That’s pretty darn blue.
Okay, that’s my lay-in.
We can work our way back down. Dark, dark.
This is still wet so leave that alone.
Over here, leave that alone. So as things are drawing you leave
them alone. You’re working the whole painting at the same time. So now we’ll come over
here and start with this window that’s up front. It’s growing out from here.
I want this to be a center of interest, so I’m going to paint it more dry
so that the edges will stay sharp.
See how this paper is just so pretty.
It actually does the work for you. You just
tell it what you want and it will do it.
Draw me a triangle. Okay, there you go. Look at that. It’s doing it. Isn’t that incredible?
This is like the car that drives across the
United States all by itself. Now it’s wet, so what do you want to do? Don’t give up
the opportunity. Touch it, just touch in these little water areas. They call these water masks.
See that? So we’ve got that. Remember, this is watercolor so you want it to be nice and loose.
That’s going this way, so that’s your perspective. This is like a series of boxes,
so this one is going pretty straight, so it’s going to a vanishing point somewhere
out in bum-you-know-what somewhere. This one is going down to the ground.
So this is really detailed. This will be more indicated so we’ll come back in and add some more.
So that's turning. Same thing over here. So we get this angle here.
That’s a wet area so what do we do?
You’re right, touch it. Let the water do the work.
That’s what makes it look like watercolor.
You’re not painting it like a regular painting.
Alright, let’s go do one here.
Super loose, pushed back. See where else you can tighten
things up, though. Maybe we need a nice line here.
Okay, so we have that. I want to get rid of this area here.
I want to make that darker because I want this
to be a center of interest. So we’ll just go ahead and grab this.
Here we go. Pulls it forward.
Okay, so come this way.
Okay, so we’ve got that. Now we’re going to come up here.
We're going to put in just these very subtle lines.
Everything is just working off of this right here.
This is vertical and these somewhat horizontals,
but the ones going to the vanishing points.
So you’re using your perspective knowledge, but you’re not slaving to it.
I think that’s what we want to get across here. You spent hours learning all this stuff.
But then you sit down and have fun. Be an artist.
Now we can make our way up to the top here, and it’s dry. They can put in some tighter shapes.
Again, this is going down. That’s going down.
That’s going up.
Now you just need to decide how much detail you want.
You can take it all away to photorealism.
I do watercolors that look just so detailed. I actually use oil brushes.
I scrub them.
It’s so fun.
But there is nothing more exciting than doing a spontaneous watercolor like this one.
Alright, I want to put in some clouds, so I’m going to work in the negative space.
But this is a pretty pink painting, so I’m going to add some red to my cloud color.
The painting is keyed and all the colors work
together. This is the negative shape behind
the clouds. I want to lose this edge there
so go like that. It’ll just bring the audience
down with that. Tell you where to look.
Lose these edges.
I’m painting the negative shape behind the clouds.
That’s it. Bring this out. Add a little bit of brown, little red.
Tap it in there because it’s wet.
It looks like somebody’s running. That’s kind of
fun, to have a subliminal cloud shape. That’s going to get in the way.
Okay, so I think we’re going to leave it like that because I want it to stay loose. What happens if you
take it to the next level then the whole thing has to do that. So here it’s pretty much
the same level of looseness and a good place to stop.
I’ll soften some of these edges.
Remember, every time you saw the brush leave
it was shaken. Let me demo. You have a loaded brush. Right now it’s not. But if you have a loaded
brush give it a half shake like that. You’ve got half the water in there. Really shake
it and you get no water in there. You can
use a brush that’s dry like this to pull paint out.
Look, if I have a big wet area that I see, shake it, I can pull it right back out. Pull
it right back into the brush. So you really get to control your medium.
So that was watercolor and that was taking actually, typically what’s a pretty
conservative subject. You know, perspective is known for being almost kind of scientific
in a way, and loosening it up a bit and adding the watercolor and kind of the whimsy to it,
making it more whimsical. So I hope your guys enjoyed it as much as I enjoy doing it for you.
Get out there and draw. Get out there and paint. Drawing and painting is a biological
function so don’t be ashamed to do it. Let us know how you’re doing.
Take care, everybody. Thank you.