Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


From Drawing to Finished Painting.

Step 1) The student gathered source material for her landscape;
A photograph of a deer
A photograph of a parrot
A photograph of hills with a river in the background

Step 2) She began by drawing the tree and the parrot in the extreme foreground.

The student was a recent immigrant from Mexico and wanted to show in her picture just how out of place she felt in New Jersey. She chose the parrot to symbolize herself.

Behind the extreme foreground she drew the deer slightly higher up on the paper and slightly hidden behind the tree. She used overlapping to help create a sense of three dimensional space. When she was done with the extreme foreground and foreground she added in the rest of her landscape, taking care to draw objects smaller and closer to the horizon line the farther away they appeared.

Step 3) She added the shadows. Since this is an acrylic painting, she used a combination of acrylic gel medium and water based black marker. Simply use the marker to outline only the shadow side of each object in the painting. Then take your gel medium and brush horizontally starting at the black line. The gel medium will smear the marker.  Wash your brush, load more gel medium and continue to brush, making the shadow gradually fade. You must allow the under painting to dry completely before adding color. I always have my students practice creating shadows with this technique on a separate piece of paper. Once the under painting is dry it will not smear when you add color, since the acrylic medium will act as a sealant.
Step 4) She added color using transparent glazes of acrylic paint. To create a transparent glaze, mix a tiny amount of paint with a larger amount of acrylic medium. It doesn’t matter if you use gel medium, gloss medium, matt medium or glazing medium. They can all be used to create transparent glazes. Test your glaze out on a piece of newspaper before adding color to your painting. If the glaze is transparent enough, you should be able to still read the text. This is very important because you do not want to hide all the shadows you created.
The completed painting

A few more tips and tricks on landscape painting from The Helpful Art Teacher:

Tip #1

Using foreshortening will enable you to paint more realistic landscapes.

Tip #2

Learn to deconstruct the landscape in front of you before you begin painting.

Start by figuring out and organizing all the landscape elements, so that you can better plan your picture.

Artists often do this by creating a quick sketch on a seperate piece of paper. 
 Some artists just imagine the composition on the canvas in front of them before they begin.

Take a look at the example below.

I created it to demonstrate the thought process that goes into a painting before the brush ever touches the canvas.

Tip #3

If you wish to paint a waterfall, start by looking at the way water actually falls and cascades over rocks.

 Imagine the brush strokes you would use to create such a feeling of movement in your picture.

When drawing paths in a landscape, curve the lines to follow the organic contours of the natural environment and make the path get narrower the farther away it gets.

Landscape with Waterfall  by Rachel Wintemberg (the helpful art teacher)
Copyright 2011,The Helpful Art Teacher
Three dimensional shadow box, Gouache on paper, private collection

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