Monday 22 September 2008

Techniques of Dry Brush Painting in Nature Study by Sandra Zuidema

The following are the notes Sandra has made available. If you have questions for Sandra about technique, please put your question in a comment on this post so she can share the information with the rest of the group, too.

Techniques of Dry Brush Painting in Nature Study

A. Keep in mind that this is nature study, not painting, drawing or art class
  • The focus is on studying nature
  • 1 minute of quiet observation
  • Allow time for kids to talk about what they’ve observed. Let each child talk. You and theycan ask questions like: “anything else”, “what is the neatest (most complicated, most lovely…) part”...
  • Time for you to talk about
    1. What you observed
    2. What you know (Comstock…)
    3. Good technique for drawing/painting it (e.g. See how the grape tomatoes are all perfectly round, how the top ones are dark orange/red but get progressively lighter until they’re green at the bottom, how they are progressively smaller…Why? What side looks like it’s in shadow?)

B. Paint Box:

  • Use small brush (#2)
  • Transfer colour to the lid
  • Mix colours in the lid
  • Don’t wash them off; just add a little water next time and re-use
  • Keep box open until dry
  • Don’t use the green and rarely the black

C. Painting:

  • Date, Common name, Latin name
  • Observe object from the angle you will draw it. (Sometimes the children might choose a simpler position, other times they might like to challenge themselves.)
  • Hold the paintbrush like a pencil. The bristles should form a point once wet. Paint with the point, just like with a pencil.
  • Paint the outline in light yellow as if you were drawing it. (This is the most important part of your painting because it determines the size and shape, so take your time.)
  • Work from lightest colours to darkest colours, in layers.

D. Shadows and Definition:

  • Shadows: Shading is what will make your painting look alive, rounded, full. To find the right colour to shade with (NOT black!), take the colour of the object (e.g. yellow) and mix it with its complimentary colour (purple). Use this new colour (mud) to shade.
  • Definition: Take the complimentary colour of the object (e.g. if your flower is yellow, take straight purple) and scantily outline the flower. I usually find that putting a very thin line on the shadow side of the flower and maybe in the folds of the leaves or the heart of the flower will make it pop out. The key is to use it very sparingly, rarely using a solid line.

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