Chronicling Change in Nature With Watercolor and Line | Sharon Liu | Skillshare

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Chronicling Change in Nature With Watercolor and Line

teacher avatar Sharon Liu, Lover of nature & capturing the wonder

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Introduction to Nature & Art

    • 2. Finding Your Inspiration

    • 3. Art Materials and Mindset

    • 4. Guided Experimentation

    • 5. Line

    • 6. Color

    • 7. Background

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the beauty in nature that you wondered how to capture that feeling? Try your hand at Nature Journaling! Researchers have found that drawing is a powerful way to boost memory and increase recall regardless of artistic skill. 

No matter whether you are a new or an experienced artist, this class will encourage you to take notice of and marvel at nature’s cycles. You will learn line and watercolor techniques to help capture your subject throughout its progressing stages. 

This class is important because you will be on active search of what attracts you and when you draw/paint that image, you will be able remember the joy you felt at the time especially if you need a spiritual lift. This practice for me has really increased my personal joy and skill.     

Meet Your Teacher

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Sharon Liu

Lover of nature & capturing the wonder


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1. Introduction to Nature & Art : Welcome to Chronicling change in nature through watercolor and line. A class aimed to help you slow down. Find inspiration in nature in use techniques taught in this class to capture your delight now and in the future. Researchers have found that drawing is a powerful tool to boost memory and increase recall no matter what the artistic skill. Sharon Lu, a political artist. Now why I call myself a particle artist is because when I was young, I loved sketching and doing our watercolor. I was always in the woods or on the beach with a sketch pad. But in high school, science teachers came to me and said, art can weigh. You were to take Math and Science in all your free hours? Well, at the university there were no art classes for non-art majors, but I did find the Naturalist program, which allowed me to be out in the field for hours taking notes and sketches. In fact, it was nature journaling before I even knew it was nature journaling. As an adult. I took our classes but it wasn't until I was retired. Did I rediscover my true love, which is art in nature. My art is very personal. Some are commissioned, for example, for this fellow's grandmother who painted a famous photo from a Life magazine, I was to do an etching of her painting as a gift to his grandmother. Many had been given as gifts, but basically my art is from my pleasure. The approach I use changes over time. But that too is driven by what I find interesting. Here is a full list of the sessions I will cover. I will share tips and techniques using lines and colors so that you can select the approach that fits your personality and expresses your feelings about your subject. Do you select for your project? What is your project? The project is a series of at least two pictures of something that attracts your attention and changes over time. Your pictures are your expression of what attracted you. Add a description, what and why it attracted you. What were you feeling? And does it remind you of anything, whether it's an object or a story? Then post your work. By posting your project and viewing other projects, you will see the astonishing diversity of personal inspirations. My hope is that when you revisit your drawings, you will remember that joy that, that inspiration brought to you. Coming up next is finding your inspiration. See you there. 2. Finding Your Inspiration: Nature, nature, nature. For this class, your class project will be for you to find a scene or subject that inspires you and that it changes over time. And then create a series of line and color illustrations capturing that change. So let's venture outside, look closely and find something that changes and inspires you, are, catches your attention. And here are a few ideas. It might be the color due to the time of the day or weather conditions. Skies, Lance known and unknown animals, reflected light and shadows. When you find your subject, you may need to mark the spot. I recommend that you use a marker such as stick on kids, earrings or a bot to mark your subject. Depending on your inspiration subject, you may want to work for. Or from a series of photos. Sessions that follow will be art materials and mindset, guided experimentation, and three classes of tips and techniques. Coming up next is exploring your art materials and mindset. See you there. 3. Art Materials and Mindset: Now that you've scouted out what catches your attention in nature and ready to follow which changes over time. Let's get organized. Pull out those art materials you may not have used for awhile in this class. It's all about experimentation, having fun, and capturing your emotions about your subject. For art materials, you'll need something to create a line. Charcoal pencils, pens, a white eraser, watercolors and, or watercolor pencils, actually anything that makes color. Some testing paper, paper towels, a toothbrush, plastic card in a Spitzer. And of course, most importantly, a journal or art paper heavy enough to grab watercolors. Some of that colors and pens do not lead through. Now for your mindset, growth mindset thrives on challenges and sees it as a springboard for growth and stretching your abilities. So let's approach this with passionate growth mindset. So I want you to approach this class relaxed, tune into your feelings. Focus on the positive, what works. Enjoy the process versus the end product and experiment, experiment. And I focus on the discovery because I want you to realize your art as a step in discovering who you are. The sessions coming up are guided experimentation with your art materials and tips and techniques. Coming up next is guided experimentation. See you there. 4. Guided Experimentation: This class is a series of warm-ups using various art materials. Get markers and dual tip, watercolor brush, pencils, and charcoal. So blow out your art materials. I invite you to work along with me. Notice by the amount of pressure and angle you hold your brush pen, you get different effects for thick lines. Drag the angle the side of the brush, pen or pencil sideways for thin lines, barely touch the paper and try to make the line as thin as possible. Now for value scales, value scales consist of values ranging from very light to dark, with several shades of gray in between. The shades help create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality. Stippling is a series of dots in which you hold the pen vertically and lightly tap the paper. Hatching also causes gray, and it's done with parallel, straight lines and equal spacing. Cross hatching is just doing hatching in two directions. We will be referring back to these value scales in the next session to ensure that you use contrast to make your drawings pop. I find hatching is helpful to follow contours in shaded, rounded areas. I like stippling for texture. Pencils and charcoal can also be used to create gradations. Let's talk about color with watercolor, watercolor pencils and dual tip watercolor markers. I will be demonstrating all three tools. The primary colors, red, blue, and yellow are used to produce the secondary colors, purple, orange, green. And also all three primary colors can be put together in different ratios to produce browns and blacks. While you are playing. I mean, practicing these exercises, I want you to be curious. Ask yourself, what if I, how would I what if I reverse the colors? Wet the pen marks, went really fast or use two techniques together. Notice the colors I'm mixing to get the secondary colors, blue and red for purple, red and yellow for orange. Blue and yellow for green. When you're working on your project, ask yourself, what tools do I have that would capture the essence and feelings that I'm having. Old, muted, excited. Oops. Make mistakes, seem cool. And ask yourself, could I use this? And how could I do that consistently? Take advantage of happy accidents now and in the future? When I wet is a great place to experiment with hoops, the technique of wet on wet gives interesting effects. I find that tilting my paper helps in color gradation into lighter shades. Dabbing the wet colors, lifts colors, for example, for cloud shapes. Dropping in colors to the wet areas creates interest and variety. Drawing with a blunt edge on a wet color is also a way to add interest to a painting. Try your darker color over this and see what happens. Watercolor pencils used on a wet surface gives vibrant colors for excitement. Watercolor pencil shavings on a wet surface gives bright textures, blending colors, glazing complimentary colors are used to blend the color or to quiet the underlying colors. This technique is handy for different times of the day. The colors in the early morning, they're all blurb from Mountain Dew, Mountain fields, search trees. They do that. The next sessions are on line, color, background to help you align your project. Then final thoughts. The next class coming up is on line. See you there. 5. Line: This class is about using line allusions to give your project drawings depth and character, and to express your interests. So pull out your favorite drawing tool. And that inspired me to stop and start this video after the first time, free to work along with me first, what is your project for? This class project is a series of at least two pictures showing changes that attracted you. Your pictures are your expression of what uniquely attracts you. Add a description of what and why it attracts you. What were you feeling and what does it remind you of drawing concepts I will cover to help you have a strategy on how to approach your pictures are to first identify general shapes. Second, determine proportions, either using a unit measure, are using grid lines, work from light to dark. Check relationships, determine light source, make closest and shadowed edges the darkest. At the end, add details to the foreground or your main focus. And taking a picture of your drawing to help you see possible changes. Look at your subject or photo carefully. What are the general shapes? What are the proportions of the shapes? My strategy is more closely match your proportions, is to identify one unit of measure based on your subject or your photograph. In my picture, I chose the round shaped flower in the lower left-hand corner as my standard unit to judge height and width of each general shape. Finding a standard unit is an important strategy when trying from life, measuring proportions out in the field is usually done by holding your pencil arms lengths away and placing your thumb to mark the standard unit when working with a photograph, I prefer to use the grid method because in each corresponding grid square, you draw the shape and angle you see the proportions are always perfect. Always start sketching and light strokes. Once you have the general shapes and their proportions, keep checking the relationships between objects and within an object. Pay attention to the angles and the shapes around your main objects. This is called paying attention to negative space. Determine your best line, then erase all other lines and grid lines. Next, determine where the light sources. The light source will determine where the lightest and darkest lines should be. The closest and shadowed edges are going to be the darkest lines. Net look at your subject and pick out where the lightest, darkest and intermediate values are. Add details at the very end. When you think your drawing is done, take a photo in order to look at your drawing with fresh eyes. As a recap, here are things to consider as you produce your first of two inspirational representations. Don't forget to post your work of art. So we can all marvel at the great diversity of inspirations. The next sessions are concepts, approaches to adding. Final thoughts. Coming up this color. See you there. 6. Color: This class is about expressing yourself in color to capture what inspired you. Pull out your color art materials and your photo or subject. Feel free to stop and start this video after the first time through to work along with me. The intention of this project is to capture your inspiration so you can revisit that feeling. First, what is your project? The project is a series of at least two pictures of something that attracts your attention and changes over time. Your pictures are your expression of what attracted you. Add a description of what and why it attracted you. What were you feeling? Does it remind you of anything, whether it's object or story, depending on your feelings, you may want to go bold, settle, head colored only to your focus. So forget all the shades. If you are an experienced artist, experiment and have fun. Here are the main color concepts I will cover. First, planning ahead in this picture of a burger paradise and in clay vase, I started the picture by putting in the background of a blue wash on wet paper and lifting some of the color with a paper towel to give the illusion of sky. In this picture of akinesia, I put in the background last, in the next session named background. I will give you the details on both types of background in the California Water scene, I purposely left untouched areas in the water and sky. I also mixed my watercolors palette for most of the picture, but also layered additional colors throughout the picture. Contrast adds interests. Emphasizing contrast can be accomplished with pigment saturation, value ranges and adjacent complimentary colors. If you are new to color, a color wheel is helpful to define terms and creating the hues you want. Covert techniques. Watercolor is about water control. First wet your watercolor pigments. Water in your brush determines how saturated your color. Using a cloth or paper towel to remove moisture from your paintbrush is useful in a dry brush technique that is great for texture with the aid of a color wheel. And the three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow, you are able to make secondary colors, orange, purple, and green, with different ratios of red in yellow, which makes orange or red and blue making purple and yellow and blue make green. With different ratios, you can make all sorts of hues of those secondary colors. In fact, the combination of the three primary colors in different ratios can produce browns and blacks. Before adding color to my sketch from last session, I'm adding a fruiting body to my line drawing. So I have a flower bud and a fruiting body. As you can see from this picture, I'm creating a range of pinks, reds, and salmon colors. By starting out light, I can layer colors and blend the colors by adding complimentary colors. Finished by adding any details to express your feelings and write a description. I find taking a picture and looking at my work from a photo helps me decide if I want to change or add to my summary. Here is a list of considerations while you work on your project. The next sections are on backgrounds and final thoughts. See you there. 7. Background : This class is about adding a background to your work of art. Here are some of the tools I will be using. Something that absorbs water and pigment such as paper towels, Q-tips, or sponge. A. Mr. toothbrush, clean wrap, something with a hard edge. Instant coffee, salt, scrap paper for experimenting. A wax crayon, something to help cover up areas while you fling paint around and a stencil with circles. The key concepts for this class are determined your focal point, plan, your approach. Keep scrap paper around IEP, the background less than detailed. And to take a photo to see your picture with fresh eyes techniques, I will be demonstrating our wet on wet lifting using a blunt edge, applying instant coffee and salt, using cling wrap, splashing and flicking watercolors, you may need an apron, adding color and quieting a background that's too detailed in busy by applying a complimentary color for the wet on wet technique. First, wet your paper, then apply a wash of color. In this demo, I will be showing how you can lift the color with the paper towel to give the illusion of clouds. The most fun wet on wet technique are when you use more than one color and use them to run into each other and to add an eerie moon by lifting color using a stencil. Here are two inspirational photographs from my backyard that I wanted to combine in, given an illusion of a sunset with stars and the moon in one corner, I first wet the sky and leave the foreground and mountains dry so that the color does not bleed into the mountains. Next, I look at the colors to see in the photo and add yellow, pink, salmon blue, and my imaginary midnight blue for my stars and moon. I let the colors run into each other allowing feathery edges. This effect is what makes watercolor fun, appreciating whatever happens. Next, I sprinkle salt. I then missed it, the salt afterwards. In Michigan with high humidity, I did not have to mist and the salt affects work. Jazz, wait for the paint to dry. I waited impatiently. Eventually I used a hair dryer place around stencil where you want the moon. The patient must be completely dry, wet, a clean paper towel folded into a point, and lift the paint, then blop the moon to pick up any remaining color, remove the remaining salt grains. Finally, take a picture and see if there's anything else you'd like to add. My next picture will be used to demonstrate cling wrap wax, resist spattering using a blunt edge and coffee. First, I use the technique of wax resist using a white wax kids crayon technique that uses cling wrap to create interesting patterns and shapes starts out with wet on wet. I wet the paper around my main image so that the flower would not take on the background color. For this flower. I used watercolor pencils because I wanted to capture the fine tooth pink edges of the petals. I also used a bit of masking fluid to ensure that some white carriers with thin the flower and around my flower to have the yellow hair sticking out into the background. Yellow paint splatters and coffee were added for a variety. Before adding the cling wrap, cover the wet areas with killing Marat. Make sure that the paint under the wrap is completely dry before you remove it. And I wanted to demonstrate using a blunt edge to press into the paper to give the illusion of grass. Therefore, I had to add a wet layer of paint before using the blunt edge in grass like lines, let it dry, then apply a different color over the lines to make them more noticeable. I also added the same darker color and other areas of my background to balance out the colors used. Finally, I wanted to demonstrate what you can do if you have the picture that is too detailed and busy background. I felt as if the dew drops that were the most important element of my picture got lost. So I did a reddish wash over the background and the green leaves. I also added a bit of white with the gel pen. As a recap. Don't forget to post your work. Coming up with our final session. Final thoughts. See you there. 8. Final Thoughts: Today's video is called Final thoughts. Hi, Nice to see you again. I hope this class encouraged you to slow down, to notice what amazes and inspires you and the capture it in line and color and write about it so that you can remember, especially on those days that you need an extra spark. The key technical concepts are start with general shapes. Check your proportions because your brain sometimes lies. Your focus should have the most details and the darkest lines. Use a range of values from light to dark. Once you know your focus, let everything else fade away. Lastly, take a photograph to see your work with fresh eyes and adjusted if you want. But more importantly, here are my key points. Approach inspirational art with a growth mindset. That skills can be learned through practice. So you must enjoy the process, loosen up. It's not the end product that's important. What is important is to experiment and have fun that will build your skill. Don't stop if your picture is not what you had hoped, you hope be surprised, for example, on a bike tour to Spain, I broke my ankle and day one. So I pulled out my tiny watercolour kit and my small watercolor journal, and I painted landscapes along the way from the emergency band. My husband won me to share my work with the rest of the group and I responded no way. But now I look at my tiny paintings and they transport me back. I feel Spain. Oh, by the way, my husband Ben wrote and performed all the music in these videos. Finally, look for awe and wonder. Just imagine if you journal to your inspirations over a long period of time, you may discover that both you and what inspires you changes over time. Don't forget to post your artwork so that we can marvel at each other's diversity and inspirations. Thank you. Hope to see you again.