An Easy Naive Cityscape Painting After Egon Schiele

Egon Schiele Landscape with Houses0912 003

Egon Schiele was a very talented artist from Austria  He was born in 1890 and died of Spanish flu at only 28 years of age.  Schiele created many erotic paintings for which he was eventually jailed.  His unconventional use of colour and line had never been seen before.  You can make your own Schiele painting quickly and easily, here’s how.

Schiele Exercise – Allow 1  to 1 ½ hours

What art materials do I need?

  • A piece of good quality paper , I have used A3 sizd but you can use whatever size takes your fancy.  Not too small is good.
  • A piece of willow charcoal (easy to rub out with your finger)
  • A medium sized watercolour or acrylic brush.
  • A tube of white acrylic paint.
  • A few watercolours.  Work with either red and yellow + black and white (see below *) or blue and green + black and white.  If you use colours with these combinations you will not end up with a rainbow painting.  By restricting yourself with colour this way, you automatically create colour harmony without you knowing it!
  • Rags or disposable kitchen towels for spills
  • A palette, I used an old white kitchen plate.
  • A plastic container for water.

What to paint on?

I selected a hard piece of cardboard (off the back of an old watercolour pad) and primed it with my own homemade gesso primer.    You don’t have to do this; working directly on to paper is fine.

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Select a photograph to paint from

Next I looked at Egon Schiele’s paintings of houses, which I love!  I then selected a photograph of a similar scene and went to work.

EGON SCHIELE PHOTOGRAPH

How to draw the houses

I did a very rough charcoal drawing of the houses. Don’t worry if your shapes are wonky, you can go over them with paint later.  Actually, I got lost in the drawing and eventually created my own shapes, doors and windows.  I just kept on joining the lines and decided to add some crazy trees in the foreground at the end.

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Let’s start painting

Next I painted between the lines with white acrylic paint. Don’t worry if some of the charcoal moves into the paint, this is what will make the painting interesting.  I used the paint directly from the tube with no water to make the surface as textured as possible.  This will create lovely variations in colour when the paint runs all over the place!

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Allow the painting to dry

I had a cup of tea while I allowed this to dry.  Usually 30 minutes is enough time.  Putting the work out in the sun helps too but make sure your work is not in a dusty spot.

Let’s paint with watercolours

Next, select your watercolour tubes according to my colour recommendations above. * TIP: You can make a lovely green with black and yellow, just add white for a lighter green.

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Then check out your photograph and lay colours down according to what you see.  Put the background in first, then the dark colours, the mid tone colours and then the lightest colours last.  Your colours do not have to be exactly the same as the ones you see.  Just try to make sure the dark, mid and light tones are true to what you see otherwise your painting will look great but will only be shapes of colours.  And we want houses, don’t we?

TIP:  Put the watercolours down once only and leave them.  Watercolour has magical properties when left to do its own thing!

Watch your paint brush create magic

At the end I went over the charcoal lines with a thin brush dampened with water.  The charcoal will run and make a line.  I also put in the windows by using black (with a dot of red) watercolour paint and a thin brush.

My finished painting

This is my finished painting, it looks kind of naive but I ended up really liking it.  Putting it in a frame turned it into a magical piece of work totally suitable for my hallway!  So put yours in a frame if you can and see what happens!

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A tip used by professional artists

To make the houses come forward in the painting, paint them in warm colours.  The background or sky will recede if painted in cool colours.  This would require you to buy warm and cool versions of the watercolours mentioned above.  Ask at your art shop if you’re not sure.

You may also like to check out a later post on how to create a vibrant and interesting still life after Schiele.

An Easy Exercise in Watercolour – After Paul Klee

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This simple exercise is inspired by the art of Paul Klee.  He was a Swiss painter who taught at the Bauhaus School of Art, Design and Architecture.  Klee often worked with children and transferred this child-like perspective to his paintings and drawings.  He was also very interested in colour theory and the artist liked to show a love of music in his work.

He painted pictures that looked simple like Green Orange with Half Moon above yet were actually very complicated.  Klee approached his painting with a sense of fun by “taking the line for a walk” as he called it and allowing the lines to grow into shapes.

In this exercise you will create an amazing city or town scene using cardboard cut outs and watercolors.

Allow 1 1/2 hours for this exercise.

You will need:

Six tubes inexpensive water colours, blue, red, yellow.  Ask at your artshop for warm and cool colours of each.  A medium sized watercolour brush, some good quality watercolour paper (at least 180gsm) , a container of water, rags for spills.

Step 1

Tape your paper to a board if you have one. This is optional only and it is possible to work on a watercolour paper pad.

Step 2

Use a ruler to make vertical and diagonal lines on a piece of cardboard.  Semi-circles are good also. (I used the lid of a bottle, turned it upside down and went around the lid in pencil to make a circle then cut it in half.  Cut out some vertical, triangle and semi-circle shapes of different sizes from your markings on the cardboard.

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You will end up with a box of shapes like this.

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Step 3

Place some shapes on your paper and draw around them to create a town scene.  Start from the bottom of the paper and build it up.  Use triangles as windows or tops of towers.

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This is what I ended up with after I drew around the shapes. Try to fill your paper by extending the buildings to the corners and the top of the page.

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Step 4

Mix the watercolours to create the shades you want.  Decide if you would prefer warm or cool colours.  Warm colours are hot like the sun and cool colours are cool like the ocean.

The golden rule with watercolour is to work only on it when it is either completely wet or completely dry.  If you try to work into paint that is still damp you could become quite frustrated.

Step 5

Fill each shape with a watery wash of colour.  Try to use each colour a few times in different parts of the painting.  This will eventually help tie the work together.

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Step 6

Keep filling in the shapes with different colours.  Keep your brush damp, not saturated. You can wipe the brush on a paper towel or rag if necessary.  Allow the work to dry.

Step 7

Create interesting colour effects by adding more dark and light paint to sections of the shapes.  The beautiful translucency of the watercolour will create a whole new range of colours. Go ahead, paint opposite colours on top of others and watch the magic appear. Don’t forget the rule of not working on damp paint!

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Step 8

Using a colour from palette and paint a yellow sun into the sky.  Allow the work to dry, 10-20 minutes depending on the moisture in the air.

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Step 9

Add a darker wash for the background

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You will end up with a lovely city scene.  If I was to do this exercise again, I would take the buildings right to the edge and top of the page and use better quality paper.  If you look closely you will see the paper has buckled because it could not take the water medium.

Check out a similar and more recent post detailing an exercise in acrylic after Paul Klee to complete a painting on canvas.

Image Green Orange with Half Moon“, 1922, Paul Klee.

Related article: Paul Klee: Making Visible, Tate Modern, review (telegraph.co.uk)

An Easy Paint to Music Exercise after Wassily Kandisnky

 

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Allow 2 hours for this exercise.

Kandinsky was a Russian artist and musician.  He believed abstract art could express just as much feeling as music. In this exercise you will create a colourful and beautiful abstract composition to the tune of your own music.

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Good quality watercolour paper
  • 7 tubes of watercolours, blue, red and yellow (both cool and warm) and one tube of black or very dark grey/blue if you prefer.
  • Container for water
  • Board and tape (optional)
  • Rags for wiping up spills
  • 1 medium sized watercolour brush with a good point.

Ask at your art supplier if you are not sure about what you will need.

Choose a favourite track from your CD collection.  In music, a motif is a part of the tune that is repeated over and over again (there might be more than one).  Listen to the track with your eyes closed to establish the motifs.  This is important when completing the following artwork.

TIP: With watercolour, it is best to work while the paint is completely wet or completely dry.  Working into damp paint may cause some frustration. 🙂

Step 1

Tape your paper to a board if you have one but this is not necessary.  You can work on a paper pad if you wish.

Kandinsky Music Exercise

Step 2

Put out a generous amount of cool yellow into your palette with a small amount of cool blue.

Add water until the colour is pale and clear yet vibrant.  Test on a piece of spare paper first. This is how my mixture looked with water added (mostly yellow.)

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When you have the colour you are happy with, drag it across the paper in horizontal strokes working quickly while the paint is wet.  I placed a bound book under the top of my board so all the drips would run to the bottom of the page, where I mopped them up with a damp brush.  Don’t be timid, your marks will be perfect according to what evolves organically.  Take a break and allow this to dry.  Depending on the day, it could take 10-20 minutes.  I tested it on some scrap paper first, this colour should be a light lime green.Kandinsky Music Exercise3
Step 3

When the work is dry, mix up a small amount of black, load a thin brush with the mixture and close your eyes.  Put on the music and paint or draw a line that suits the rhythm of the melody.  Perhaps a swirling line for a smooth rhythm and a zigzag line for a jerky rhythm.  It is your interpretation only and whatever you put down will be perfect.  It is best to start and end off the edges of the page.

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Step 4

Mix up six colours ready to start the next process.  Use some light colours and some dark ones.  Colours directly from the tube tend to be boring so mix a little of an opposite colour to make your colours jump off the page.

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Along the line, paint a shape each time you hear a motif in the melody.  Make the marks different sizes, colours and shapes.  Use other shapes if there is more than one motif in the melody.  The music will inspire you to keep painting so use your feelings to add different shades of colour around the shapes and along the black lines.  When the track is finished stop painting, that way you’ll leave some restful areas.

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My music was happy so I used a lot of yellow, it also was quite romantic and soothing so I used pale blue and pink.  There are joyful melody motifs all over my painting!  Try to rinse your brush with water in between making these marks and drag the colour over the page to create depth.  Don’t worry about spills and drips, that’s what makes the work so very special and unique.

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If you want some soft watery edges as I have, wet a clean brush with plenty of water picking up some wet paint, drag the water across the paper a little way.  Make sure the brush is filled with water and no colour.   This is my finished painting, can you see the water marks, I love them!Kandinsky Music Exercise8

You may also like to paint after the great master, Wassily Kandinsky in acrylics.

Related articles:

Choosing Watercolour Paper

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Choosing the perfect paper is the first place to start when undertaking a watercolour painting.

There are 3 types of watercolour paper:

  • Hot pressed –  this is a very smooth paper and good for detailed work.
  • Cold pressed – this paper has a semi-rough surface and is sometimes called NOT paper, meaning “not hot pressed.”  This is the best paper for beginners.
  • Rough – this paper has a course finish good for producing flecked or textured effects.

All papers come with “size”.  This is a weak glue solution that makes the paper absorb less paint.  Most modern machine made papers are treated on both sides with “size”.

More expensive handmade papers are treated on only one side.  This is usually the side with sheen.  Otherwise, a good quality paper will have a watermark which reads the right way around.

Watercolour papers are also measured by weight, for example 180 GSM.  I am not sure, yet have always thought GSM to mean “grams per square metre”.  Anyway, the heavier the paper, the better the quality and the more forgiving it will be.

A Few Facts About Watercolour

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These are some of the amazing benefits of painting in watercolour:

  • One of the most delicate and sensitive of all painting mediums.
  • Beautifully fresh and translucent when not overworked.
  • Unpredictable and best left to dry and do its “own thing”  Only then does the picture speak to you.
  • Watercolour painting works best when the artist is comfortable with ambiguity.
  • Chance marks and happy accidents are part of the process and can add sparkle and spontaneity to your work.
  • A beautiful delicate translucency comes from the white of the paper.
  • Paint dries quickly or slowly according to the amount of humidity in the air.
  • Colours dry paler than when first put down.
  • Allowing a layer to dry and placing another one over it can create beautiful unusual colours.
  • Working quickly in what is called, “wet-in-wet” is another method which will add interesting and mysterious effects.
  • Watercolours cannot be scraped off or painted over like other mediums.
  • Can be used to build lovely transparent layers of paint. This can only be done if each layer is left to dry completely.
  • Watercolours are non-toxic, portable, easy to clean up, tap ready with a long shelf life.
  • Good quality watercolour pigments do not fade.  I highly recommend Schminke watercolours on good quality cotton rag paper.
  • Watercolours can be used to create texture by using a dry brush, sponge or spattering with a toothbrush. They lend themselves to a variety of techniques
  • Watercolour can be used on Gesso primed board and other non-absorbent surfaces to create unusual and beautiful results (see below*)   This link gives information on how to prime a painting canvas
  • There is no need for an easel, just tape the paper to a board and place it flat on a table with the top raised a little higher .
  • Watercolour painting requires a knowledge and consideration of the paper and to this end, I have placed a link below.

 

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My watercolour work above has lots of what I used to call “cauliflower” marks as a distinctive part of the work.  I often discarded paintings with these watery marks until my teacher at art school told me to welcome them.  She called these marks “blooms” and said they are very beautiful and spontaneous.  These marks usually form when working wet with a lot of water and a small amount of pigment.

The works below are some of my watercolours on paper.

 

*Yes it is possible to use watercolour on a Gesso primed canvas. and here is one below.

 

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In my next post I will write about the first place to start with watercolour, choosing the paper.