I am often asked how to paint backgrounds and how to paint pale colors in watercolor.
I sometimes choose to paint a study with a white background. A floral work with an unpainted background is often titled a "redoute" style painting. After the famous botanical artist Pierre-Joseph Redouté. This lends itself to the look and feel of a botanical study.
Other times I want to create a soft gentle study where the background emphasizes the atmosphere and emotion I want to portray.
Pale colored backgrounds bring a feeling of serenity to a painting and room where the painting is hung. Choose the overall feeling you wish to portray and then give some thought to how you will evoke the emotion and sentiment you want to capture with your message and within your brush strokes.
Much of this feeling and atmosphere comes from the color and tonal range you choose when painting something such as this still life painting. I wanted to share this intriguing insight into this ANZAC's story was to create a painting that would also evoke a deep and touching response from the viewer. Carefully placed, appropriate time-worn objects, all shrouded in the patina of age, invite the viewer to enter this world and feel the genuine emotion within each brushstroke. I want the viewer to feel the poignancy of this scene and understand the depth of emotion felt by the soldier and the family awaiting his imminent return. Pale sepia/ecru watercolor washes, light cast shadows and quiet illumination all bring peace and a sense of tranquillity where passing time goes unnoticed and we ponder the story this painting reveals.
As artists we can bring to the viewer - this and a multitude of other moments, emotions and a sense of 'being there' - by the understanding the five elements of painting: color, color temperature, tone, intensity and edges.
'On Active Service'
© Susan Harrison-Tustain
Watercolour on Arches hot-pressed 300gsm paper
40cm x 26cm
This is a painting of pride, love, and nostalgia. The letter speaks of the daily life of the young serviceman in his ANZAC regiment, but this painting also focuses on the story of the family back home in New Zealand, eager for news of their loved ones.
A cream cloth covers the breakfast table; a New Zealand Herald symbolises the news of the day. A letter with the official letterhead “On active Service" tells in a self-effacing way of the writer being rewarded for his actions. A letter that also hints at some of the difficulties he and his comrades face. The serviceman's words are magnified in the lenses of the horn-rimmed glasses. A cherished and obviously love-worn photograph introduces the emotion of the piece. A pristine photograph would not bring the same depth of message.
This is a painting that I felt driven to paint. It symbolizes the precious gift of freedom that we share and the gratitude we owe.
On ANZAC Day (25th April) Kiwis have a special day where we honour those who were prepared to give their lives for our freedom. This is my tribute to all of those who served - and to their families who stayed behind and 'kept the home fires burning'.
There is much to share and teach - one lifetime is never going to be long enough for me to paint all I want to paint and of course share as much as I can. But watch this space, join my newsletter mail list, enjoy my how to paint DVDs, keep watching Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest as I reveal more and more.
Color temperature along with tone, color, intensity and edges allow us to create the impression of reality in watercolor and all other painting mediums.
How to create form with colour and colour temperature?
Have you struggled trying to paint in watercolor? Have you wondered how to paint in oil color? Acrylic or pastel? The medium we use is not as crucial as the knowledge we have on how to create a good composition, how to use and mix color and create form using color temperature.
Let me help simplify some of these mysteries we hear so much about - but don't understand the importance of:
Take a look at my watercolor study of how to paint an eye. Can you feel a presence, a glassy surface of a rounded shaped eye as it influences the surrounding tissue and sits naturally into the face? Can you see the undulating form of this part of the face? The gently blended washes of color give a soft transition that leads the eye over and down the rolling landscape of the face. Can you see the color mixes I have used and where I placed them to help me to create convincing form?
This study will hopefully lift your awareness of the impact color temperature and also complementary colors have on our work and everything we see. This is an opportunity for we artists to observe how colour temperature and how these changes within the range of temperatures can affect what we see in our natural world and capture in watercolor.
Let's begin by understand how to paint an eye in watercolor or any other medium
Can you see how round the eyeball appears? What else do you notice? The paper is of course two dimensional - flat - and yet with the use of color temperature, I am able to bring an impression of substance and rolling form.
How did I do that?
Where to begin:
Begin by looking at the lightest areas. The highlight in the eye is of course the whitest area - so this is the coolest spot of all. White is our coolest color on the color wheel. Cool white will almost always come forward in a painting.
Now let's look at the shadow on the eyeball - I want you to think about what you see.
Look at the eyeball - directly below the eyelid. The shadow is blue/grey. Blue is less cool than white. You will notice that introducing this cool - but not as cool as white - shadow - has allowed me to suggest the roundness of form of the eye. The highlight and lightest color is in the centre of course. The cast shadow from the eyelid is along the edge just below the eyelid. We have a color temperature shift. From coolest - to cool. It is not a big shift - but just enough to describe the form is rounded. Not flat. Without that shadow the eyeball would not pull back into the socket. The eyeball would look flat in the central and upper areas.
Compare that cool blue/grey shadow we have just discussed to the color in the "white of the eye" at the base of the eyeball. What colors do you see there? Yes - you will see greys that are tinged with a little red/orange.
Give some thought to this. We have our coolest colors in the central areas. We have a coolish blue/grey cast shadow at the top and now we discover we have a warmer red/orange tinge near the lower edge of the eye.
Can you see how the eye has cool color on one side and warm on the other?
We have opposites working here. Blue - which is cool - and red/orange which is warm.
This is the point I wish to make. It is these opposites or near opposites that allow we artists to create convincing form.
If we had cool highlight area in the middle, similarly cool colors at the top and lower edges of the eye - this would result in giving the impression of a flat surface.
However what we have is a rounded form because we have used warm against cool color temperature to help us describe the form of the eye.
There is another phenomenon working here too: Complementary color
The upper area under the lid is blue/grey and the lower area is red/orange. Blue and orange are opposites on the colour wheel. That means they are complementary colors. If we want to create the impression of rounded form - we can easily do that by allowing one side of the form - to be established using cool color and the other side to be established using warm color. Generally we find the colors we use are complementary or near-complementary colours.
The complementary colors are these:
Red - Green
Blue - Orange
Yellow - Purple
You can see how warm and cool colors juxtaposed close to each other throughout this watercolor eye study - help us to create a seamless rolling of form:
Look at the cool light just below the eyebrow. This sits forward. Notice the area juxtaposed in the inner area of the eye - by the nose - and also on the eyelid. You can see these areas are warmer as well as darker. This tells the viewer these areas are in shadow and therefore must be on a different focal plane than that of the highlight below the eyebrow.
We have the cool of the highlight below the eyebrow and the warm of the areas in shadow that lead up to the ridge of the nose. We also have the warm of the eye lid that is also in shadow. This is what we need to look for. Then we need to learn how to paint seamlessly - without demarcation lines that would interrupt the rolling of form.
Let's take a final look at the last areas of this eye study:
The area above the eye is not as affected by the light as that area below the eyebrow. The area above the eye needs to sit back just a little on the forehead - but not as far back as the areas on the side of the nose - and the eye lid.
You can see how I have used varying amounts of warm/cool, light/dark, intense/pale colors to achieve the impression this is a three dimensional face. It is not flat. It is rounded.
Look at the lower lid. You can see how the upper area that is affected by similar light to that of the top highlight area below the eyebrow. This rim is light and cool-ish.
As this area rolls under - you can see it then rolls into a little shadow so the color is a little more intense as well as warmer. This is another example of how the roundness of the eyeball affects the outer skin form. We describe that form with roundness in mind and so we simply use warm and cool to help us establish the impression of roundness once again.
You can see how we can create an undulating form by simply using color temperature to give us the impression of form, substance and a three dimensional reality.
Experiment. Even if you can't determine these color temperature shift in your painting subject - you will find if you use color temperature to help you describe form, you will create a much more three dimensional reality in your paintings. Remember: Warm against cool and cool against warm will create beautiful undulating form that gives the impression your subject is not only rounded - but it is coming to life!
I have added a black and white tonal drawing of the same eye to show you how tone also gives you form. I think you will appreciate that color temperature is the 'icing on the cake'!
Have you always wanted to visit Europe or return to some of the most incredible destinations Europe has to offer? Richard and I specialize in creating leisurely-paced, tailor-made, unique tours where you can relax and enjoy being care-free as we introduce you to a trip of a life time.
Would you like to travel with a small group of like-minded people in the security of very experienced tour guides who can take care of everything for you.
Join us for a fantastic opportunity to visit some of our favourite European haunts. We specialize in unique, one-off tours that Richard and I have personally created. We offer an itinerary focussed on sight-seeing and experiencing authentic excursions - but with many additional opportunities that make our tours distinctly unique.
For those interested, we love to provide the opportunity to learn or extend your skills in painting, photography, wine appreciation and Mediterranean cuisine.
Why not try your hand at painting with me alongside to guide you? Let me help you capture the authentic flavour of Europe in every brush-stroke.
Maybe you would like to improve your photography skills with Richard to guide you? Or perhaps you have an interest in wine and Mediterranean cuisine? These are just some of the specialties Richard and I bring to our tours. What better time or place to try your hand at any or all of these wonderful interests than on a care-free holiday in some of the world's most characterful destinations. Read more ...
Richard and I have recently returned from Maroochydore Australia after a fun time teaching 2 x 3 day watercolour workshops to 2 groups of gifted artists. They were such a pleasure to teach and extend! Our venue was the beautiful Sebel Hotel overlooking the Maroochydore beach. A perfect combination: fabulous people, great venue, beautiful sunshine, spectacular hotel rooms - with amazing sea views but most of all - two fun groups of artists, eager to learn and extend their skills.
The workshops booked out quickly. many artists have booked ahead for future workshops in Maroochydore. The workshops were so much fun I am now contemplating conducting three new workshops in 2015. If you would like to be on my waiting list for these workshops, please let me know via the contact form at the bottom of this blog page. It would be my pleasure to extend you to help you reach your full potential too!
I have been given permission to use some of the lovely words and reflections sent to me since my return home. These are just some of the kind words I have received. I feel very humbled but thrilled to see how my teachings have helped each artist - no matter what level of skill they have. That is the joy and huge benefit of my way of teaching: helping extend each artist individually in our group setting. This way of teaching means that everyone is in their own comfort zone. However I also challenge them to reach for the stars because without challenges we don't learn and move forward. I gauge what each artist needs and
demonstrate the potential of where I know they can be. It is lovely to see everyone rise to this challenge - with me alongside them to guide them - and so when they leave they are ready to fly!
>From Jennifer M Australia
"The Workshop was so inspiring and I learnt so.... much. Your style of teaching was so generous, patient and encouraging. Not only are you a brilliant artist but you are also a brilliant teacher. Your passion in sharing your knowledge with others was so touching and I really appreciate it. I realise that you had given up so much of your valuable painting time to both prepare and deliver the workshop. You have significantly helped a number of aspiring artists. This was so kind and generous of you. Even though I had read many, many books and watched so many videos over the past two years when I have been trying to teach myself, there were so many things I learnt at your workshop that just aren't covered or explained clearly in these media. To have you not only explain things clearly, but also to demonstrate them and then have us practice the techniques was invaluable. I am now continuing the rose study at home and am quite delighted as I see my painting improve.
I wanted to thank you also for the enormous amount of time and dedication which you put into the workshop both before and during to ensure everything ran smoothly. Having spent years in my career organizing events I am well aware of the tremendous amount of work that goes on "behind the scenes" to keep everything running smoothly. You did a superb job and the workshop proceeded with out a hitch (or no issues that the participants could see!! ... Well done and thank you!) Thank you also for the informative session on photography and also allowing George to attend. I have tried some of your ideas using our camera and am pleased to report that they work. I actually had another look at the camera manual and was surprised that it had a number of features which you told us about and I had never used. ( It always helps to read the Manual!) Though I still haven't quite mastered getting dogs to be co-operative models yet!! But the multi-shot setting is helping!
So to you both, thank you for an absolutely fabulous experience; for the many new skills and techniques that I have learnt and the incredible knowledge that you have shared with us. Thank you for a wonderful three day experience that has inspired me and renewed my passion in painting."
>From L.W. Australia
"...your workshop was the best one I have been to; well organized, comfortable facilities and Susan's enthusiastic teaching was really enjoyable - quite an experience."
Thank you again to you all for your kind and thoughtful words. I also appreciate your permission to share your feedback. I will share others in different media. Thank you again!
Enjoy the attached images!
This is a blog of 'How to paint lessons' that will help give you a solid base to build on.
How do we paint?
Where do we start to paint in watercolor and where do we start to paint in oils?
Most artists think a painting begins with the drawing - but in reality a successful painting begins long before we take a pencil in our hands.
You will have heard me talk via international magazine articles, books and also in my blog, about "intelligent composition".
However there is one step before that - and this step is observation. Without good observation - and also good analysis of what is before us or in our imagination - then our painting will always lack depth and a sensitivity. A painting that is not able to incur some emotion or intrigue a viewer, is more akin to a wall decoration. I am sure you would prefer to touch the viewers of your work. So watch this space!
'Where to begin a painting' is going to be my first discussion in this - a new series of posts focused on helping artists to learn how to paint.
I plan to write a number of short posts that will help you lift your work to a more refined level. These posts will be in the form of painting hints and tips that will give you a more solid base and understanding of some important skills and lessons showing you how to paint in oils and how to paint in watercolor. These stepping stones will help you move forward on your painting journey with more confidence and with a solid grounding in some very important areas.
Keep popping by this blog to see what is being posted. I plan to discuss all of my most often asked about subjects.
Let your friends and painting groups know about this new series. The time and dedication it will take to design, prepare and write this series is huge - so the more that know about it - the more far-reaching and the more rich and deep art will be in people's lives.
That's a lovely notion isn't it!
Do also visit my Facebook pages (and if you like them - let me know - just click 'like'!) I am sure you will find a great deal of interest in my Youtube videos too. Just type in my name into Youtube to find a series of videos created to help artists such as yourself.
On my website there are numerous lessons, hints and tips for artists. Feel free to explore the 'lessons' section of this website. It is a rich source for artists.
Watch out for the first lesson next week!
TWO SUSAN HARRISON-TUSTAIN WATERCOLOUR WORKSHOPS SCHEDULED FOR AUSTRALIA IN 2013
In a very rare move - internationally acclaimed artist and tutor, author and art instruction DVD presenter Susan Harrison-Tustain is offering the opportunity for you to join her on the Sunshine Coast of Australia for unique three day workshops in September/October 2013.
At the last series of 3 workshops she conducted in New Zealand in 2010 she noted that at least half of the participating artists were from Australia.
It became clear that Susan should meet the demand for her workshops in that amazing country itself. Australia's Queensland coast is one of her favourite haunts so she is thrilled to have the opportunity to visit again and dedicate time to sharing her skills, knowledge and expertise so you too can experience and learn all she knows about how to paint in watercolour.
“I have chosen Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast for many reasons: for me it is an idyllic paradise. It’s quiet and relaxing, has lovely beaches, surf, weather, accommodation, a wonderful venue in the Sebel Maroochydore and the Sunshine Coast Airport is close by. Perfect!
Most artists feel they are on a 'plateau' and are not sure how to move forward to a more polished, refined and professional level. This is my specialty!
My workshops and tuition are unique. I focus on teaching the skills of:
- In-depth colour mixing and colour trails
- Colour temperature - this is absolutely invaluable information allowing us to create and mould three dimensional form that looks tangible
- How to use complementary colours to push/pull our subjects allowing them to live comfortably in the correct painted space
- Layering: how to create luminous, clean glowing colours through knowledge of washes and colour properties
- Understanding watercolour in-depth
- Observation, analysis and interpretation
- Intelligent composition
- How to capture emotion in your paintings
- Fine tuning: this stage is when our paintings gain that polish and the edge that pulls them together creating a painting that speaks to the viewers of our work through naturalistic realism.
- My workshops are so much more than learning how to paint one painting. I want to extend your skills and confidence so you have the tools and knowledge that you can adapt to any subject matter in your own painting workspace/studio.
- I think of my workshops as an investment in your future paintings, painting pleasure and the joy your work will bring others”
Enjoy a retreat from everyday life. Come and spoil yourself as you become immersed in the joy of learning the breakthroughs Susan has discovered and developed on her watercolour journey.
These are the skills that have lead to her international recognition and demand for international workshops, sales of 60 thousand copies of her book around the globe, 25 thousand watercolour instruction DVD sales world-wide, as well as numerous magazine and book articles and features.
In Susan’s words:
“It is so very important for artists to share what they have learned and developed. It is my great pleasure to announce this opportunity for you to learn all I know about watercolour while relaxing and having a fun time with like-minded artists in beautiful Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast of Australia."
Please note that these are the only workshops Susan will be conducting in the next 2 years. If you would like to take advantage of this rare opportunity - contact Susan or Richard via the contact form below
First Workshop: 28th, 29th and 30th September 2013
Second Workshop: 4th, 5th and 6th October 2013
Contact Susan or Richard for further details
We have some great news to share with you!
Europe is calling....
We are now able to announce our Portrait of Europe - A Mediterranean Odyssey 2014 tour!
Our Mediterranean Odyssey 2014 preliminary tour brochure is here!
The feedback we receive is you would like us to announce our tours earlier as many of you prefer to make your travel plans well in advance.
With this in mind, we have put together an early outline of our Portrait of Europe - A Mediterranean Odyssey 2014 tour. This is just an initial brochure so you are able to see the exciting destinations we have woven together to make this 2014 tour another unique and magical small group tour of Europe.
Click on the link below to view our initial brochure and outline of our Portrait of Europe - A Mediterranean Odyssey 2014 tour:
The final brochure and pricing will be released once the 2014 hotel prices are available.
Our reputation for creating unique, leisurely-paced, fun-filled tours to spectacular European destinations has meant word-of-mouth has spread awareness of our tours far and wide.
What makes this tour so unique?
- Exceptional tour to destinations personally selected by Richard and myself
- Uniquely different, our tours focus on sight-seeing as well as art, photography, wine appreciation and Mediterranean cuisine to enable you to savour and capture the essence of our destinations.
- For those who would love to try their hand at painting - or would like to extend their painting skills - I will be there to help you portray the magic of your adventure in watercolour.
- Richard will extend your photography skills in a 'how to make the most of your digital camera' workshop - the spectacular scenery and your awe-inspiring experiences will be portrayed in beautiful photographs forever.
- Richard will also share his vast knowledge of wine as we enjoy two exceptional wine tasting experiences you will never forget.
- Two Mediterranean cook-schools - one in Turkey and one in France - will ensure you bring back cuisine skills and recipes to savour .
- We are tour leaders with extensive experience and a passion to offer tours that allow our guests time to delight in the heart and soul of each destination
- An essential ingredient is the leisurely-paced nature of our tours allowing 3 - 4 nights in most land-based destinations
- Beautiful hand-picked hotels
- Luxury Azamara Quest 7 night cruise exploring Turkey and the Greek Islands (Veranda Staterooms)
- Private luxury air-conditioned coach with English speaking driver.
- We show you what we feel is the best of the best of Europe at an affordable price.
- We specialize in introducing you to experiences you never knew existed.
- Leave your cares behind, put yourself in the hands of well-travelled and highly experienced tour leaders (Richard and myself) and let us whisk you away for 29 nights of fun, laughter, adventure and a holiday of a lifetime - memories that you will savour and enjoy forever.
The current brochure is an initial outline of what we have in mind. There is still fine tuning to be done where we add additional excursions and experiences. While every effort has been made to provide information as accurately as possible please be aware that some changes may need to be made for practical reasons, but our aim always will be to make any substitutions that are as good as or better than those detailed here.
What to do now?
If you would love to join us on our Portrait of Europe - Mediterranean Odyssey tour in September 2014 - or if you are interested to know more - feel free to contact Richard or myself. Contact details below.
"Sharing our experience and passion for the mystical places that draw us back to savour again and again is a great passion for Richard and me. We create unique tours that are seamlessly woven together so you can delight in experiences that dreams are made of. Richard and I would love you to join us aboard this trip of a lifetime."
We hope you can join us!
There is more to painting watercolor roses and rose oil paintings than meets the eye. Here I have captured pink roses in oil and red roses in watercolor. It is difficult to tell which medium I have used for which rose.
'A côte de la Fontaine'
- Oil on Belgian Linen -
© Susan Harrison-Tustain
Watercolor on Arches hot pressed paper
© Susan Harrison-Tustain
You will find it is easier to determine whether a painting is watercolor painting or whether it is an oil painting - if you view it in an art gallery of course.
Looking on-line - you will find the background probably helps you to determine which is which. The red rose is the watercolor.
I am sure you are wondering how can these velvet-looking red roses can be painted in watercolor.
Art on line Lesson:
Observation is the key. These are the things you need to ask yourself:
- What does the surface of the rose petals tell you
- What does the texture of the rose petals tell you
- Are they opaque or are they semi-transparent?
- How does is the light affected by the surface - is it absorbed into the surface or reflected and bouncing off the surface?
- Are the highlights hard-edged or muted and flared? Compare the front vertical surface of the upper, right red rose. Does that have the same texture as the inside surface of the rose? Is it as velvety? How do you know it is more shiny and smooth?
- You will have now established that the surface of the inner side of the petals is velvety. Velvet absorbs light and gently flairs the highlight rather than allowing it to appear hard-edged.
- Compare the upper leaf - on the right hand side of the painting. Can you see how that appears shiny?
Now let's take a look at the pink rose:
Ask yourself questions about the surface and textures you see on the pink rose petals:
- Are the petals opaque or semi transparent? How can you tell?
- Do the petals have a velvety texture or are they smooth surfaced?
- In this case the main bloom has a few petals that are wet from the nearby fountain. How can you tell the top left petal is wet? Think about how I have suggested a wet surface?
We can be the best artist in the world at welding a watercolor brush and mixing color - but if we do not observe and analyse our subjects well - our paintings will struggle to be more than just an attractive wall hanging.
As artists we are story tellers. Become as adept in observation as you are at painting, and you will have a winning combination.
This is how to watercolor and how to oil paint - but it is also how to create paintings that speak to the viewers of your work.
There are just a few of the considerations we artists need to be aware of when wanting to know how to paint watercolor and how to paint oil paintings of roses or anything at all for that matter. Teach yourself to understand what is in front of you and you will find your paintings will eventually become masterworks.
These are just some of the observations, good analysis of art will reveal to you. Without this information and analysis, artists would find it difficult to capture the 'feel' and the sumptuous nature of this rose - or any other subject.
Teaching watercolor and oil painting is a passion for me. My teachings, on-line workshops, one on one workshops and of course my art instruction DVDs - all with their sound and in-depth teaching - give the artist a solid base to grown from exponentially. Knowledge and understanding bring confidence and drive to move out of the usual comfort zone, off that plateau and to discover a whole new world of possibilities and artistic potential.