New Watercolor Landscapes course

Today’s blog post is about my new watercolor landscapes course that I am producing right now.

I have been busy last week or so in shooting videos, recording audio, editing and so on for my upcoming watercolor landscapes course. Video editing takes time and good video editing takes much more time! 

It’s not the first time, though. It’s my 12th online video course and I think I’ll be able to launch it in a couple of days.

Course contents

In that course, I have talked (and shown) about the materials that I use and the step by step process that I follow to plan and complete watercolor paintings, layer by layer. All this is shown through painting demonstrations and you’ll see every brush stroke I apply to complete the paintings. I am sure you’ll enjoy watching it and also learn a lot from it.

Watercolor Landscapes course: Mandar Marathe Fine Art
Watercolor Landscapes course: Mandar Marathe Fine Art

I know this because I learn a lot more when I SEE someone making something or painting something. Text or verbal description has many limitations, especially when they talk about art. A lot of things can be understood only by watching someone do it.

So, watch out for a course launch announcement from me!

Until then,

Keep making art,
Mandar 

Painting on location

Plein air painting simply means painting on location, outside the studio. Such paintings are mostly landscapes, for obvious reason. Let’s get to know more about this method.

There are basically two environments in which any artist paints. Indoors, where light, wind and temperature can be controlled to a reasonable extent and outdoors where the elements dictate the weather conditions.

Producing a good painting is challenging even with all right conditions and all the time available in the studio. The level of challenge goes up when doing the same on location. Additional challenges in painting on location are:

1.  Time is limited when painting on location

You can spend only a limited amount of time on location. You need rest, you need food and water and there is no cozy seating available there. Though you can return back to the same spot day after day to complete the painting, it is a rare possibility. 

2. Weather conditions are not in control

The main thing that an artist needs to paint is good light on the subject and the canvas. Light changes every minute of the day but the painting needs to capture only a moment in time. After all, it is not a movie to show the passage of time. This shifting light makes it difficult for the artist to paint the light and correctly capture the color.

3. Distractions are more when you are painting on location

You can lock yourself up in your studio till you are painting is done but there is no such luxury on location. Spectators, onlookers and suggestion givers can create a lot of distractions to an artist.

Then there are other challenges such as bugs, wild animals, theft and so on.

However, there are also lots and lots of advantages of painting on location. Let us look at few of those.

1. The actual scene is a lot better than a photo. It’s in 3D

You can experience the place with all your senses. This gives more authenticity to the painting created there.

2. You learn to be quick

Due to limited time, you learn to be quick in making the decisions about your composition, colors to use and so on. You may not always come back with a good painting but you learn a lot faster.

3. You get all benefits of being out in open

If you love being outdoor, on location painting can be a good excuse to get out and feel the breeze. You can take lots of photos too which can be the source for your future paintings. Experiencing a place in person and looking at a photo clicked by someone else are two totally different things and that shows in the painting you do.

4. You get to meet people and develop friendships

Even if you are just a beginner, you’ll be looked upon by the spectators as an “artist” and that boosts your confidence. Painting, while others are watching you, takes courage and you should congratulate yourself for taking the courageous step.
Most of the times the onlookers are ready to help if you need anything. You also have a chance to make them fans of your art.

5. Learning from other artists

Though you can go and paint alone, painting on location with fellow artists is even more beneficial. You can go where you wouldn’t go alone, learn from each other, share experiences and learn to solve problems together. There is also a friendly competition that helps you in painting better.

I am not (yet) a frequent on location painter but want to be one.  Want to join me?

Here are two photos from my recent on location painting.

Mandar Marathe- painting en plein air

Mandar Marathe- Painting on location

Remaining-River-Watercolor-on-paper-Mandar-Marathe
“Remaining-River”, Watercolor-on-paper, Mandar Marathe – Painting on location

 

Watercolor Paintings

In this blog post, I want to share few of my latest watercolor Paintings.

Monsoon sunshine at Hinjewadi - Watercolor on paper - Mandar Marathe
Monsoon sunshine at Hinjewadi – Watercolor on paper – Mandar Marathe
Revival - Watercolor on paper - Mandar Marathe
Revival – Watercolor on paper – Mandar Marathe
Deep breath - Watercolor on paper - Mandar Marathe
Deep breath – Watercolor on paper – Mandar Marathe
Afternoon light - Watercolor on paper - Mandar Marathe
Afternoon light – Watercolor on paper – Mandar Marathe

Comparing oil colors to watercolors

Comparing oil colors to watercolors and explaining their peculiarities and differences is this blog post’s subject.

I won’t say this medium is better than that or this medium is difficult to learn than the other. Doing such comparison doesn’t achieve anything and is like comparing a sitar and a guitar.  Both are good in their own right and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Monsoon sunshine at Hinjewadi - Watercolor on paper - Mandar Marathe
Monsoon sunshine at Hinjewadi – Watercolor on paper – Mandar Marathe

 

Standing Tall - Oil on canvas - Mandar Marathe
Standing Tall – Oil on canvas – Mandar Marathe

 
Here is a list of their peculiarities and differences.

  1. Ease of handling the medium on the paper or canvas.

    Oil colors do not dry fast and so one can manipulate the colors more easily on canvas for a longer duration. Watercolors dry fast and so the time available to manipulate color on paper is very less.

  2. Ease of handling the medium outside of painting

    Watercolors tend to dry faster, even when inside the tube, than oil colors. They dry due to evaporation of water and oil colors dry by oxidation of oil film.
    Oil colors also remain usable for a longer duration on the palette than watercolors. Even though you can re-wet dry watercolors on the palette, they are not as good as wet color straight from the tube.

  3. Transparency

    Watercolors are more transparent than oil colors. One of the primary reasons for this is that when they dry, only the pigment remains on paper and the medium (water) has evaporated and gone. When oil colors dry, there is a film of dried oil that holds the pigment molecules in place.

  4. Change in value and saturation when dry

    Oil colors look the same when you apply them and after they are dry. Whereas, watercolors become lighter and look less saturated when they dry. This behavior depends on the quality of the paper. Therefore, artists have to compensate for this behavior and apply color darker and more saturated than what they expect on dried painting.

  5. Wet in wet effect

    Wet in wet technique is one of the greatest advantages of watercolor. To get a similar result with oil colors, manual blending is necessary.

  6. Gradation and controlled color change

    Controlled change in the value and hue of the color is easily achieved in oil colors. Watercolor does not give the artist so much control over it.

  7. Portability

    As they dry very fast, watercolor paintings are more portable than oil paintings. This is very helpful in on location or ‘en plein air’ painting.

  8. Display of paintings

    Watercolor paintings need the protection of a glass frame. They cannot be varnished due to the danger of dislodging color and darkening the white areas.

    Oil paintings do not need glass covering as the oil film gives a better protection. They are generally varnished to give them an extra layer of protection.

  9. Longevity

    Watercolor paintings tend to fade a lot earlier than oil paintings. Hence, watercolor paintings need more care while displaying.

  10. Method of painting

    While painting with oil colors, one typically starts with darks and gradually applies lighter colors. This method is very commonly used but is not a rule.
    Watercolor paintings are started with lighter washes and darker colors are applied towards the end of the painting process.

    I hope this information will help you choose the right medium for your paintings.

    Happy painting!
    -Mandar

Color dimensions

There are many dimensions to color. These Color dimensions help us understand, define and match colors when we paint.

There is color where there is light. It is a simple and a complex subject at the same time. It depends on how much you want to dig deeper. I’ll try to explain few things that I know about colors without going too technical. 

If you prefer a  more technical explanation, read this.

NO NEED TO UNDERSTAND

Except the colorblind people, everyone else knows what color is. In reality, no one needs to know the names of colors or understand how colors work, to lead a normal life. In the language of software programming, this is called abstraction. You can use colors without knowing how they work. You can drive a car without knowing how chemical energy is converted into kinetic energy by the engine.


“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.”

– Claude Monet


This is all OK for a normal person but if you are an artist (I’m not suggesting that artists and ‘abnormal’!) who uses colors is your art, you need to know how colors work, to a greater extent. Do not think if you are an artist are not. That thought is of no use. Since you have read this article till here, either you are an artist already or are on that path. In fact, all of us are on the path, It is just that some have started walking earlier than others.

So, read on and keep getting a better artist than you were yesterday.

NEED TO UNDERSTAND

All color is light and light contains different wavelengths of color. Though there are many types of lights sources, I am referring to sunlight here most of the times. I’ sure you remember the prism experiment you did in the school to see colors of the rainbow. It showed that sunlight is made of different wavelengths which split into different colors when passed through a prism.

So, if a leaf appears green, it is because it absorbs all other colors from the ambient light and reflects only green. When the same leaf becomes old and looks yellow, it is because it is absorbing different wavelengths of light and reflecting out the yellow wavelengths of light. In other words, the colors of objects are not “in” the objects. They appear to have the color which they reflect.

This also means that color of an object depends on what wavelengths the ambient light contains. Hence, the same object seems to have different color under different lighting conditions such as morning, mid-day and evening. Try photographing an object at different times of day and compare the photos. You’ll know what I mean. You’ll know that color is relative and not an absolute.

 


“I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.”

– Eugene Delacroix


 
Now let’s looks at different dimensions of color. There are 4 basic ones.

HUE of color

Hue is what we call “color” in common language. So, when we say apple is red, the sky is blue and so on, we are referring to the “hue” dimension of the color.

VALUE of color

You must have seen old photos that are black and white but you still recognized the objects or people in it. You were able to do this because that photo contained different shades of gray. For example, in a typical portrait shot, hair of the person are darker than his shirt. His skin is lighter than his hair but darker than his white shirt. This relative lightness or darkness of the object is called value of the color. Lemon Yellow is lighter than Venetian red but Venetian red is lighter than Ultramarine blue.

In painting, if the values of different shapes are correct, your painting will look good even if the colors are wrong.

CROMA of color

Croma is the intensity, purity or saturation of the color. Yellow in the sun is more saturated than yellow in a ripe banana.

So when you are trying to make a painting of an object or a scene and trying to match the colors you see, you need to match all these 4 dimensions. It is a task that requires learning and careful observation but becomes second nature with practice.

CONTEXT of color

How much ever we may try, matching colors in our painting to colors in nature is impossible. However, the “relative” nature of color makes our task easier.

It is more important that each color in our painting looks correct in the neighborhood of other colors in that painting than how closely each color in our painting matches that in the real world subject of the painting.

Context is the key here. Now again read Eugene Delacroix’s quote given above. It will make more sense.

Keep painting!
-Mandar