Introducing The #WinSchaller Sweepstakes
When reflecting on the most influential watercolor artists of today, Thomas Schaller ALWAYS comes to mind. There is no question his use of color, ability to capture atmospheric qualities, and his entrancing cityscapes and landscapes will be celebrated for decades to come.
So, artists and art lovers alike, if you are in awe of Schaller as much as we are, then you’re going to LOVE this. Schaller has offered to give away his original watercolor painting, Angles of Light – Rome. Are you going to be the lucky person who gets to hang it up in your home? Read on to learn how easy it is to enter for your chance to win. Good luck!
Angles of Light – Rome by Thomas Schaller, 2017, watercolor, 22 x 15 inches
To enter, first: Follow us on Instagram @artistsnetwork. Then: Share a picture of your original artwork of a landscape, cityscape or seascape on Instagram using the tag, #WinSchaller. It’s really THAT easy.
The Sweepstakes is open to all U.S. residents, 18 years or older. A participant must submit his or her artwork to the #WinSchaller Sweepstakes between Aug. 16 to Sept. 13, 2017, to be eligible to win. (Only one entry per person)
The winner of Schaller’s Angles of Light – Rome will be randomly selected on Sept. 20, 2017. Once the winner has been notified, he or she will also get a celebratory shout out on ArtistsNetwork’s Instagram. Be sure to check your DMs on Instagram Sept. 20 to see if you are the lucky winner!
Please note: The winning participant must have a valid email address to be notified, which ArtistsNetwork will request via direct message on Instagram. If no valid address is supplied, another entrant will be selected as the winner.
You can read the full #WinSchaller Sweepstakes Official Rules here.
If the chance to win a Schaller original wasn’t enough, be sure to check out the step-by-step watercolor demonstration below from the watercolor celeb himself. Enjoy!
A Lesson in Watercolor from Thomas Schaller
The World Was Quiet (watercolor on paper, 22×15) is inspired by memories of my years in New York City and by a poem by Wallace Stevens. It’s about the almost-universal desire to find a quiet place in a chaotic world.
Narrative always has played a
major role in all of my work, including paintings with great atmosphere. Creating a compelling idea for each of my paintings is, in fact, my chief aim. All other elements — composition, values and color — must be in service to the overarching idea that frames everything I do.
Over time, I’ve found that the approach that works best for me is the establishment of a network of dichotomies — complements — within my work. Light vs. dark is, of course,
a consistent theme. But so, too,
are others: vertical vs. horizontal, warm vs. cool, man-made vs. natural, real vs. imagined, and the past vs. present vs. future.
Introduce such opposing forces within a work, and the viewer will see the tensions as well as the connections that exist between all parts of a painting.
Time Travelers (watercolor on paper, 30×22) is derived wholly from my imagination; the passage of time is the theme. The distant sky dissolves into mist, and the uncertain bridge carries the two figures on their journey over space and time—from wherever they were to wherever they may arrive.
How To Build Atmosphere, Step-by-Step
When painting skies and water, connect similar and opposing elements to create a realistic sense of atmosphere. Read on for a step-by-step demonstration for how I paint atmosphere in watercolor for gorgeous skies and water.
- Sketchbook: Stillman & Birn Beta Series
- Sketch Pencils: Faber-Castell 9000 4B; Palomino Blackwing 602
- Paper: Arches 140-lb. rough
- Brushes: Escoda Aquario Series Nos. 14 and 16; Escoda Perla Series Nos. 8, 10 and 12
- Paint: Daniel Smith: French ochre, permanent orange, Venetian red, burnt sienna light, burnt sienna, cobalt teal blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, lavender, imperial purple, lunar violet
- Misc.: Holbein atomizer bottle
Finding the Perfect Subject
Walking along the Tiber River with friends one evening, the air suddenly chilled, and great banks of fog rolled in to cover the water and Rome’s iconic Ponte Sant’Angelo. The effect was majestic and intimate.
The great structure and the historic castle beyond seemed to hover in space — as if removed from time. The fog had the effect of connecting everything; sky became water, and the earthbound seemed to float. It was much too late and dark to paint, so I went back the following day.
Sketching the Scene
Fortunately, the lighting and fog of the previous night were still fresh in my mind as I sketched the scene. I often counsel my workshop students to avoid describing their subjects and instead try to interpret them. In other words: Don’t paint what you see; paint how what you see makes you feel.
That’s what I tried to do here. The elements of site observation are much the same, but the lighting, atmosphere, feeling and story are quite different. They’re inspired by my earlier impressions of the place and drawn from memory and imagination.
This sketch helped me plan the painting. I began to design the shapes of the composition — the darks and lights, the verticals and horizontals, the shapes of values that help to imply a sense of depth.
Drawing with Your Brush
The preliminary site sketch also helped me complete my line drawing more quickly. I knew where the basic shapes needed to go, so I ran a smaller risk of overdrawing.
I find that it’s generally a good idea to draw only a bare minimum. Let the brush do the drawing and allow the viewer to fill in the blanks. Instead of describing with a line, I “draw” with fluid shapes of value and color.
Creating the Sky
In doing my black-and-white sketch, I designed a color palette for the work. I knew it was about light more than anything else. Hence, the saved white of the paper which would form the fog that connected all things is the primary focus. Actually, everything else is secondary.
Turning the board upside down, I began with the sky in complementary tones of yellows and purple. Knowing the bits of castle and bridge that appear would be darker, I determined that it wasn’t necessary to hold any edges there.
Working on the Water
Before the sky dried completely, I turned the board upright to lay in the tones of the water. I matched the hues of the sky to enhance the sense of reflection and the idea of connection. I was careful to maintain the pure white of the slanting fog.
Adding the Landmarks
Before the sky or water areas dried completely, I used more earthy tones for the castle and the bridge. I wanted them to “melt” into the water and sky to enhance the idea of mystery and a sense of connection — and to help imply the effect of distance and perspective.
I placed in the foreground elements of the bridge and statues. The sky behind was now nearly dry, so I could hold clean edges where needed. I used a water mister to help blend away any unwanted edges before establishing a bold sense of depth, perspective and drama by using darker values.
I used rather theatrical complements of color to imply warm reflections of bounced light under the deep arches against the cooler tones above and below.
Adding the Final Details
As the painting dried, I created just a hint of a dark foreground. And lastly, I added a few small details here and there. The foggy atmosphere didn’t warrant more.
More importantly, I wanted to engage the viewer’s imagination — trying to conjure what can’t be seen—in Fog on the Tiber, Rome (watercolor on paper, 30×22).
See more of Thomas Schaller’s work, his workshop schedule, his books and more at thomasschaller.com.
And be sure to stay tuned for his new series of video workshops all about designing powerful watercolors, including lessons on perspective, the magic of complements and painting dramatic atmosphere. Coming this September 2017, you can find this series at northlightshop.com and on ArtistsNetwork.tv. In the meantime, be sure to check out his other video workshops streaming now on ArtistsNetwork.tv.
Need more Atmosphere Painting Inspiration?
Below is a quick look at the process of another artist who paints atmosphere so well: Antonio Masi.
In a Fog
Drawn on site in midday, I painted Nocturne, Winter Farmyard—Ohio (watercolor on paper, 18×24) as if at night and in moonlight to tell the bittersweet story of resilient places and forgotten ways of life.
Painters ask how I paint, or achieve, light in watercolor. The simple answer is that I don’t. The light is already there on the surface of the paper just waiting for me. That’s true for painting fog, too. It’s more in what I don’t paint than in what I do.
Watercolor really is a subtractive medium, in that we don’t add paint to create light. Instead, we add paint to create the shadows that reveal the light. For example, find fog’s effect in what it obscures, not in what it reveals. Take a less-is-more approach.
Fog has a kind of silvery tone. And, like clouds, it can form shapes. Because of this, I’ll often add just a hint of cobalt teal blue and imperial purple to the bottom of fog banks to suggest shape, texture and a subdued atmospheric feel.
Fragmentation and uncertainty are portrayed in Broken Road (at left; watercolor on paper, 15×20), which is anchored in reinvented reality. Hard edges and negative shapes frame the foreground, but a hopeful destination beckons in the distance.
*Editorial contributions made by McKenzie Graham and Maria Woodie
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