Gradation studies

I was inspired by Lance Weisser’s recent post, which noted a YouTube video available from AWS watercolorist Stan Miller. Lance is one of the watercolorists here whose work I find very inspiring, so of course, I clicked over to the video he cited right away…..and found several others, all produced by the same artist. The first lesson can be found here.

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After watching almost all of these very inspirational, educational videos, delivered in Mr. Miller’s no nonsense style, one message I heard loud and clear is that, after a good drawing, value is everything in painting. Color is pretty immaterial; it’s really all about value. First: Is the drawing accurate? Second: Is the value correct (meaning does the lightness/darkness chosen match the reference)? If those two things are right, the painting should be a pretty good one, according to Mr. Miller.

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So, I decided to do a couple of gradation studies. As usual, I had very little time to put these together, but I was pretty happy with them. Are they perfect? Nope, but I’m on my way. By the way, his watercolor portraits are so amazing!! I’ve enjoyed doing portraits since January, but I have never tried them in any type of liquid medium (mainly colored pencil). Well, now that I understand how it’s done from watching Stan Miller’s demonstrations, I’m tempted to at least give it a go.

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Very excited about this! I really enjoy drawing portraits, but have not even considered attempting to paint one. Will be very curious to see where this leads.

I want to thank you, Lance, for sharing that post. That man knows how to teach! I am so impressed with his work and with his instruction!

Happy creative Sunday to all! Walk in peace and light.

25 thoughts on “Gradation studies

  1. …I am SO PLEASED to see this post, Laura. It is very encouraging of you, as always–so confirming. Indeed, Mr. Miller has a wealth of good advice to dispense, and, it is so worthy to point out, that he does this in such a public way, on YouTube, where it costs us nothing. He could so easily, like many others, make this available for a price. thank you very much again, Laura.

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      1. Wow, sounds like he really made a huge impact on you! I will need to check out the videos next time I’m in town (my internet at home is so bad that I can’t do videos…we may be the only people still getting DVDs from Netflix instead of streaming…LOL!).

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  2. I just briefly checked out his videos and have subscribed. I watched the one where he explains the exercises you completed. It looks like you met the goals of the exercise. Thanks for posting the link. Great work!.

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  3. OMG! Stan Miller! I could not believe it! I have taken 3 years of watercolor classes (in person) from this man. The first year we could not add color at all – value is king to him as you said. And yes, he has a very no NONSENSE approach to painting. He is a very talented artist. I’m curious to see what his videos are like. I did not care for his teaching style in person. 😏 I like your value studies, Laura. 😊

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    1. Thanks, Jill! Wow! I have to say, I’d love the opportunity to study under him, but I wouldn’t wanna fly cross-country to do it. When you say three years …. is this every week? So like, he wouldn’t let you add color for 52 classes??? Woah!! Even if it’s monthly classes, that’s still a long time not to add color. I’ll be curious what you think of his videos, Jill!

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      1. It was a weekly night class at a high school so it was only when school was in session. I took the class with 3 friends and this is what made it fun. He is a very serious painter and my friends and I were learning for fun. I’m not sure I would have continued if it weren’t for my friends. He was very critical. 😏

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        1. hmm….I wonder how I’d have perceived that. I’d probably welcome it at this point, since I almost prefer criticism to compliments! I’m so addicted to watercolor and I just want to get better. I guess if you were really new though, it’d be off-putting! Your friends must have liked his style?

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          1. I think criticism can be valuable if done in a kind way but as a new artist, it can also be hurtful. Let me just say, we put up with it because we wanted to learn. I can still remember him laughing at one of my paintings. I then “fixed” it and surprised the heck out of him. LOL! He is an excellent artist though – very talented. 😊

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